Japanese Groceries in Gold Coast

March 26, 2022

I dedicate this post to V, the brave woman who used to boss me around in the kitchen.

Gold Coast has many Japanese grocery shops. I will introduce two good ones which have just started carrying Taro’s Ramen frozen home packs.

1. Gogo Mart @ Harbour Town.

This independently owned shop is “コンビニ” (japanese convenience store) like. Located right across from Harbour Town Shopping Centre in the same complex as BCF. Their shop is all about variety and the latest items, they are quick to catch on to a trend. Feel free to talk to a friendly staff if you are after a particular item even if they don’t stock it.

Large display fridge and freezer aisle. 充実した冷凍、冷蔵ディスプレイ。
You will find us here in the freezer. 目立つ所に置いてくれて有難う御座います!
Other instant ramen selection. カップ麺など珍しい系も置いてます。
Books to fine tea 古本や雑貨が充実
shampoo and sanitary goods ドラッグストア系も
cookware and dishes お皿に鍋、七輪なども揃う

2. Ichiba Junction @ Molendinar.

This shop is like “業務スーパー” (wholesale warehouse). In fact that’s exactly what it is. Owned and run by Japanese wholesaler Daiwa Food who also supply our restaurant. They supply the food essentials mainly in bulk at wholesale prices.

They currently sell our packs at $16.90, the cheapest among all retail outlets. 現在冷凍ホームパックの売価は$16.90、一番安く置いてくれています。
Open 7 days
Decent meat selection. Friendly vibes. 焼肉や薄切り系の肉も揃い、店員さんが親切。
Get the tofu, same tofu we use in the restaurant. Asian veggies so cheap too. 店で使用する豆腐おすすめです。野菜も安い。
Australian Go Rice from here is the rice we currently use. At the moment I am not totally happy with the quality of the rice so we blend 10% mochigome. 店内のお米はこちらの豪州産Goriceです。粘りを増すためにもち米を1割入れています。
Find our ramen in the freezer next to Udon. 冷凍うどんの隣にあります!
Sake and Mirin available in refills! 料理酒、味醂が詰め替えで買えるのは嬉しい!
sometimes you can find japanese ramen at unbelievable bargain. 時々インスタントラーメンも超特価でゲットできます。
trust me get the Unmaibo snacks. うまい棒がまとめて買えるのはここだけだとおもう。

Enjoy Japanese grocery shopping in the Gold Coast!


Introducing Our Egg Farmer, Forage Farms

March 23, 2022

After Country Range Farming, our trusted organic egg farmer for 12 years closed down, we are lucky to have the task taken over by Forage Farms.

It was just pure chance that I saw their eggs and poster in Harris Farm Markets in Westend around January. I was delighted with the quality and contacted Megan straight away and we have been happy customers since then.

This week, I drove up to the Mary Valley and visited them, Hamish was kind enough to show me around.

They employ pasture raised, regenerative farming practices. This is a method made famous by Joel Salatin and Polyface Farms in USA (have you seen Food Inc?), basically doing it naturally, no pesticides, no herbicides, maintaining a very sustainable animal to land ratio, and rotating the land the animals graze on. Arguably better than some forms of “organic”, definitely not something a large scale operator can mimic easily.

So there are no large fixed barns or pens, the small portable pens move around following the cattle who graze on the property before the hens so they can cut down the grass to a manageable height for the hens to roam in.

In some large scale “free range” egg farms, birds are crammed at up to 15,000 birds per hectare. And there’s really no guideline on what kind of land these birds are given. Sometimes the hens just prefer to stay inside, shying away from the dry lifeless paddock to the comfort of their large air conditioned barns. Well these are all what Forage Farms and pasture raised farming is not about. 400 birds per hectare and natural grass and insects actually form a part of their diet. Protection is given by electric fences and these beautiful smart friends.

Forage also raise pigs and chickens, graze sheep and cattle.

As you can see the pigs also have a good life. Access to all the play area they want and the safety of a mobile shelter.

Meat chickens are raised in these shelters. They are fed a no chemical no antibiotic diet plus plenty of grass and grubs.

This is what I purchased as a souvenir. If you are envious, their produce can be purchased online here. I had the pork belly and chicken so far, absolutely blown away by super clean taste of the chicken, no weird chlorine smell, especially the skin tastes so good. Pork is also very different, slightly more chewy, dense umami flavour. I can taste the animal’s upbringing.

They are pioneers and missionaries of their farming practice and I am so happy to support them by using their pasture raised eggs in my ramen!

Ripiena @ Fortitude Valley

March 7, 2022

There’s an Italian couple that has been coming to Taro’s for a long time and I asked them, where is a good Italian restaurant I should go to and they recommended Ripiena.

In deed, their focus is pasta and make their pasta on the premises. In fact during lunch the place is a “Pasta Lab”.

Carbonara, Bolognese, Wine and Olives, happy days.

I really regretted not coming earlier… So, went two days in a row and met the maestro himself Nicolo!

January Monthly Special – Immunity Ramen

December 28, 2021

Combine all immunity related superfoods in one bowl, balance flavours, and voila*! This is my Immunity Ramen!

*Voila: {definition} after take 6 so believe me it’s tasty!

OK long story. One friend recently asked me, what happened to the immunity ramen concept i talked about in March 2020.

It was a thought I had when COVID initially struck. What can I do as a ramen chef? Maybe I can make a ramen that helps fight COVID! That thought slipped as I got busy just scrambling to keep our business afloat.

Things are still a bit uncertain for us but hopefully the worst is over, with good spirits, I am able to take some time off to spend the holidays with family and friends. And it’s also a good time to spend some time in the empty CBD shop kitchen to experiment.

I got back to the drawing board and started building on the concept.

The body has it’s own defense system and we can help raise it’s potential with the things we eat. The key is eating healthy but there are several ingredients or methods that are said to help.

1) Intake of beneficial bacteria. Foods like yoghurt and sour cream. Kimchi, natto, fermented pickles. Raw is best but even if it is cooked, it reaches the gut and contributes to good gut flora.

2) Balanced fiber to nourish the gut flora. There’s soluble fiber and non soluble fiber, both combined delivers best results.

3) Increasing core temperature. Ginger is known to raise body temperature. Higher temperatures help the immune system fight off enemies like bad bacteria or viruses.

I wanted to incorporate all these components. Firstly, I created a ginger miso tare + shiitake sour cream soup. Also the dash of garlic chilli sauce really gets you sweating and feel the core get hot.

Kimchi topping and the sour cream in the soup are direct sources of good bacteria. Miso is also beneficial.

Flaxseed blend noodles to provide more fibre and to boost blood circulation.

Shiitake as non soluble and Wakame as soluble fibres.

Pork charsiu and organic free range egg for protein to reconstruct damaged cells.

Of course eating this ramen will not make you literally immune but I hope it can trigger some conversation to promote healthier eating habits and help make customers and friends stay safe.

Available after January 3rd 2022, at all shops in limited quantity.

Celery and Beetroot Cured Smoked Charsiu Experiment

October 30, 2021

Back in Japan, it must have been between 2000-2003, I lived in Urayasu, Chiba. Obviously, every weekend I would hunt around for good ramen and one day, I had a bowl around Ichikawa or Baraki in a small shop run by a solo owner. I don’t remember the name of the shop but their charsiu had a plump ham/bacon texture like no other and it stuck in my head.

I decided to take homage to this and create a similar charsiu.

The characteristic ham/bacon texture comes from pork being cured in salt and nitrates. Nitrates is a controversial additive, suspected of being cancer causing but beneficial in eliminating botulism and more importantly the beautiful pink coulour and texture. In Japan, nitrates is called Hasshokuzai (colour emitting additive). Being me, I wanted to stay away from these harmful artificial nitrites/nitrates.

I chose beetroot and celery for colour and being naturally high in nitrites, created a salt and vegetable brine.

brine at 9.6% (salt meter capacity max 5% thus measured at 50%) salt after 10 days

Soaked the collar butt for 10 days.

desalting progressing.

And desalted for 4 days, measuring the brine and desalting process as I go.

desalting complete (i had split the meat in the process at a higher salinity so the reduction in weight is not a reflection of the curing/desalting process)

After desalting, air dried for 1 day.

Basted with soy sauce and mirin, smoked at low temperature for 3 hours and finished sous vide with remaining soy and mirin.

The result is stunning. Beautiful pink colour, solid smoky aroma and the texture… Plump, juicy, slightly rubbery like aldente noodles. This is what I wanted to make.

Looking back, it took 16 days to create! It’s available for you to sample at South Brisbane and Stones Corner in limited quantity today 30/Oct/2021 being the last day. $3 for a slice as an additional topping. I would match it with Shoyu or Shio.

牛タン味噌漬けチャーシュー麺 Miso Beef Tongue Charsiu Ramen

August 28, 2021






Miso marinated beef tongue charsiu ramen

Farmer friend John sent me a box of beautiful beef tongue from his family cattle.

Tongue when slow cooked will become melt in the mouth tender but we can use shin or cheek for that. Enjoying the bite back texture that can only be had with the tongue,,, that’s the Japanese way of enjoying beef tongue. Aficionados love a simple thin slice on the charcoal bbq but I have created a miso charsiu with a slight bite to match ramen.

Soup: Shio Soup. Clear poultry, dashi and veg broth with shallot and prawn oil. 

Toppings: Beef Tongue Miso Charsiu. Beef tongue from the Kummerow Farm, deskinned, marinated in miso and sous vide. Sprouts, Shallots, organic free range egg.

Kummerow Wheat Blend Noodles: 31% house milled Kummerow farm durum whole wheat. 38% house milled Kummerow farm bread wheat. 28% Weston Milling premium medium strength unbleached white flour. 3% other (gluten, egg white)

		Taro's Ramen - Artisan Series - Beef Tongue Charsiu Ramen image

Tickets are on sale here for September 11th.

鴨つけ蕎麦 Duck Tsukesoba

August 28, 2021





A classic staple at a Buckwheat Soba Restaurant is Duck Tsukesoba.

Duck flavoured dipping soup, charred leek, and cold soba.

Of course the classic is made with buckwheat but I made a very nice wheat soba using Kummerow Farm durum wheat.

And the duck, slowly heated on the frying pan to collect the nice fat and grill the leeks in it. After the skin is finished, we sous vide it so we get maximum tenderness and juiciness.

Yuzu, bamboo and the charred leek is also a beautiful side kick.

Get your tickets here. Available on Sept 4th only.

Japanese Beef Cheek Curry (only at CBD Queen for a limited time)

July 28, 2021
served with a dollop of whipped whiskey cream, pickled scallions and fukujinzuke. available only at CBD Queen St shop. It is medium spicy.

Ask your favorite Japanese restaurant whether they make their curry from scratch. Chances are they don’t.

It takes so much time and effort and plus the food giants have perfected their recipes so it just makes it not worthwhile to venture into it.

Well, our farmer friend John sent us some beef cheeks from his family farm. I wanted to do it justice so spent one weekend in the Queen St kitchen. Lots of tasks to do a proper job.

Firstly caramelize celery and onion.

From this…

To this.

At the same time, cook the beef cheeks and vegetables in the oven until fall apart tender. Start a beef onion stock.

Once cheeks (3hrs) and vege (2hrs) are done we deglaze the pans with white wine and add to stock. Then get started on the rouix. Pan fry the spices, S&B curry powder, black pepper, chilli powder. Butter and tapioca starch.

Add the stock to the rouix, add the vegetables, blend, simmer until consistent.

Added some more spice, miso, vegemite for added tanginess. Completely homemade, no MSG, gluten free. Took 9 hours… Hard work but good result!

Taste of Japanese Autumn in QLD

May 26, 2021

以外とこちらの日本人に知られてないのが冬場は山芋(white yam)と里芋(taro)の新鮮なのが手に入る事。興味ある方はぜひ日曜日の午前中にwoodridge marketsに足を運んで下さい。農家のTiaさんが自然農法で丁寧に育てていたものを直売しています。

Japanese people feel the seasons by eating certain foods. Taro potato (里芋 satoimo) and Yam Potato (山芋yamaimo) are definitely those type of foods. These starchy staples tell us that Winter is coming.

Farmer Tia grows these crops mainly for her Islander clients but the crops are exactly same to that of Japan.

Tia harvesting some taro.

Tia harvesting white yam.

In Japanese cooking the Yam Potato is usually enjoyed fresh. Either julienned and enjoying the crunchy texture, or grated fresh and used as yamakake paste to eat with rice, noodles or with sashimi. This is what we use for our current monthly special Tsukimi Yamakake Ramen

Here’s how Taro eats Taro! Just wash off the dirt, boil it until tender, dab a bit of sauce and a heavenly snack.

It’s as easy as this. Sauce recipe one, mix equal parts miso and peanut butter. Sauce recipe two, mix butter and soy sauce.

If you are keen, simply visit Tia at her stall at the Woodridge Markets. On every Sunday morning to noon.

Making Thick Curly Noodles featuring Raw Whole Grain Durum Wheat from the Kummerow Farm

May 26, 2021


We will be creating a very Japanese monthly special ramen using QLD produce. First up the noodles.

As mentioned I visited John at his farm to get some durum wheat. Fresh from his silo.

The specs are bright orange compared to a hazy grey of the bread wheat.

Its a first for me to mill my own flour from grain. I sift the grain to get as much of the husks out as possible. Then put it in my blender, sift, blend, sift, repeat until i get the desired fineness.

Look at this bright yellow colour! Wasn’t expecting this beautiful appetizing colour for a whole meal flour.

The noodles we opt for our standard no. 16 cutter at target 1.3mm thickness.

Taste test against our standard thick curly noodles.

The standard noodles have had at least a couple days maturing time and this creates a consistent moisture distribution, making the translucent colour and maximum chewiness.

The noodles made today have a fresh white colour with yellow specks, more vibrant wheatiness with some grassy notes.

Can’t wait to taste it again in a couple days once it’s matured a bit.