Free Home-made Takana Tasting July 10-12 Dinner only at Queen

July 6, 2017

MSG free all natural handmade takana (pickled mustard leaves).  

At the moment, for our popular free condiment takana, we are using imported Chinese takana pickles containing MSG.  I am not happy about it but it is immensely popular and there is no denying the good match with our tonkotsu soup.  

Brisbane’s climate is very similar to Kyushu, the home of takana pickles in Japan and apparently autumn is the season for mustard leaves.  Coming across some fresh mustard leaves at the Inala markets, I just made one batch to see if I can make it on my own.   

It was a long process. 

5/15 start process

Batch one 1700g 10% salt 170g

Batch two Baby mustard leaves 690g 6% salt 40g

5/25 Change water, wash resalt, turmeric, chilli.

6/1 Desalt entire batch.

6/2 Pickle in marinade 

7/2 Finish

As you can see, a process requiring time for lactic fermentation and pickling. 

The end result, i guess is ok for a first go.  Being all natural it is very very weak in umami compared to the current one but hoping it might be a step towards perhaps replacing it with a more natural alternative.  
I would like to invite people to come in and try it and let me know what you think.  It is merely a prototype so there is no charge but would appreciate your comments. The limit is one plate per person and first 10 customers per evening.  

—-From Facebook—-

Takanazuke Project. 

Kyushu (the home of the tonkotsu ramen) and Brisbane have similar climates. Means similar produce. I came across these fresh looking mustard leaves in Inala. Takanazuke is pickled mustard leaves. A really good tasting and popular free condiment to our tonkotsu ramen. Popularly made in parts of Japan and China by pickling and fermenting the mustard leaves. 
It’s no secret that we currently import our takana from China and though it tastes good it contains MSG and additives. My ramen is MSG free so ideally I would like to have my condiments also MSG free. I have considered Japan sourced options as well but haven’t been able to find a naturally made product that is also an economically suitable and good tasting. So, let’s see if I can do it myself!  
We probably can’t change this complimentary component straight to 100% homemade at a business like ours with a relatively mid low price point but first up, see if I can actually make a good tasting takanazuke and think from there. Always fun to think of new yummy stuff!


3rd Artisan Series – Spanner Crab Ramen

July 3, 2017

Hopefully as our readers are aware we have the titled event on sale. 

Last week I visited the supplier Fraser Isle Spanner Crabs at Mooloolaba to get an insight on the beautiful produce we are introducing.  Their passion is Spanner Crabs, they stick to completely sustainable practices, they stick to their quota, follow the seasons, release the littlies and the females.   

I can’t stress enough of my passion for eating against the main stream.  With every kg of eye fillet there is a kg of cheek or tail or tongue that is IMHO as good as the fillet sometimes getting wasted.  We at Taro’s Ramen are all against that.  The same situation exists with Fraser Isle.  As they produce their succulent prized deshelled crab meat, most of the head meat is being dumped as fertiliser feed.  In Japan, we cherish the meat as well as the head meat and I wanted to introduce the intense flavour that can be extracted from fresh crab head meat to my customers and maybe the general public and help the crabs get a bit more recognition for their robust contribution they can provide to the palate.  

And to publicly state our message, where else is more appropriate than wandering cooks?  They share the same ethics as we do and I saw it a natural course of things to present the 3rd artisan event at the edgy warm vibed venue.  

If you are interested in the event, there are about 10 tickets left so please act quickly.  

Taro’s Ramen – Artisan Series – Spanner Crab Ramen
by Taro’s Ramen


Sat. 22 July 2017
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm


Hi, my name is Taro. I’ve been a foodie all my life but jumped into ramen 7 years ago. Just genuinely following my greedy instincts ever since, creating ramen with all sorts of ingredients traditional and off-centre. This time around, I got approached by a like minded crab fisherman, Jason from He told me about his passion of the pure taste of the fascinating creature being the local spanner crab, and the opportunity of utilizing parts of the crab that simply does not have a commercial value. History of ramen evolved exactly from this. Pork and chicken bones being utilized to make a hearty soup and filling up hungry folks. Jason and I got excited and I jumped right into it.

Tonkotsu Crab Soup. I will blend in the crab shells into a highly emulsified Tonkotsu soup. The delicate sweetness of the crab will be bound together with the richness of the pork bones. The aromatic oil is carefully made by slow cooking the head meat in olive oil at 120 degrees. The resulting bright red oil gives the ramen it’s signature character.

Pork Charsiu. I will go for a simple salt and koji cured bangalow sweet pork charsiu with this one.

Noodles. Tonkotsu style noodles but will be broader to provide a bit more bite.

Tomato Crab Salsa. Use this to change the flavour at the middle of your meal. It will turn into a bisque type broth.

Apologies, (Allergy Warning), people who can not eat crustacean or pork can not be catered for in this event.

The event is family friendly and very accessible. Ticket is required only to pre-purchase your ramen, entry is free and open to anyone. Wandering Cooks will arrange a food vendor to sell other nibbles along with the wonderful bar focusing on local beers and wine.

Our Mission: To deliver the safest and the most delicious bowl of ramen ever to Australia. Taro trusts his sense and taste more than anything when it comes to selecting ingredients. Our ramen does not contain any MSG or preservatives and we only use the best natural ingredients. The produce that requires freshness is sought out locally and dry goods etc are gathered from personally trusted suppliers in Japan. Please enjoy the “real flavor” Taro has created by using the best ingredients and his best recipes.  

Taro’s Ramen – Artisan Series – Spanner Crab Ramen


Wandering Cooks

1 Fish Lane, South Brisbane, QLD 4101

Hawaii Eats

May 27, 2017

Koa Pancake House

Just simple fare to keep the kids happy.  A good excuse for me too.  


World famous for dry aged beef. Was lucky to meet the man himself.  After eating their juicy tender steak, guess what’s in my cold room now?

Shiro’s Saimin

American Target sells Riedel glasses. 
Locally made Aloha Tofu actually tastes awesome but costs double the prices of mass produced Japanese or California imports. Same with beer.  

Yoshitsune Japanese Restaurant

We were craving Japanese for breakfast so went to this authentic restaurant.  The gindara saikyo yaki was melt in the mouth.  The rice is awesome everywhere you go.  The California rice is very close to Japanese.  

Super market choices 

Ramen!!Bacon! Maple, apple, hickory you choose your smoke!Kimchi and other tsukemono pickles

Agu Ramen

Hawaii Favourites

May 27, 2017

Hawaiian cuisine. 

Hawaiian local culture and food is a mix of Japan, Korea, Phillipines, Polynesian and American foods.  And being a japanese with time spent in America during youth, it just feels so comfortable and it’s no wonder that my siblings decided to choose Hawaii as home.  This time my main purpose was to say hi to a new member of the family but good food is always not too far behind.  

For this trip, my BBQ and Smoking Guru friend gave me a mission to check out some items he was interested in. I was glad he did.  

Helena’s Hawaiian Cuisine

They are a long standing institution serving many local dishes but famous for the pilikoi style beef ribs. Pilikoi usually means dried beef and usually refers to beef jerky. Theirs is a shorter drying style just for condensing the flavour. Very much like the Japanese himono ranging from dry (katsuobushi, niboshi or surume) to quick dried (ichiyaboshi or overnight dried).  

As seen in the picture, they hang the marinated short ribs and they cook it on the grill. The marinade tasted of soy and sugar and maybe some garlic but I couldn’t taste much of it or too much else herb/spice wise but the beef umami was really drawn out and it was really nice.  

Opihi poke. Normal Ahi Poke, tuna sashimi marinated with sesame oil and soy, along with seaweed and some raw baby abalone on the top.  

Butterfish collar stew. Tomato based stew. These stews with fish can get too fishy very easily but this was done just right.  

Mike’s Huli Huli Chicken

Huli Huli means turn turn. The chicken is butterflied and set on a basket rotisserie and roasted for 45 minutes over kiawe wood.  

I am not a big fan of rotisserie chicken. I think that the outside parts including my favourite pieces such as wings and drumsticks get overlooked during the process of cooking through to the core. No worries with the Huli Huli. The chicken is butterflied and the cooking process is short so the moisture is retained.  

The spit is empty because the chicken was already pre-prepped. Here is a flank steak being cooked to order.  

I got the prawn and chicken combo. The food actually tasted not fresh, even a bit off.  At first I was hesitant, but after my second bite I was hooked. I don’t know whether it was intentional but this also tasted like it’s been air dried. Condensed umami and slightly funky flavours. The taste just crept back at me and I was just heading back for more. The mac salad was totally fresh and the slices of juicy pineapple also a perfect accompaniment. I don’t know though. Air drying chicken sounds like a dangerous affair so maybe they use some sort of fermented marinade.  Either way the result was addictive.  

This simple dish became my most memorable dish dining outside.  

PS for the honour of the restaurant I did not get sick at all after eating this dish and am just craving to get back next time I can.  

Tokyo Soba April 2017

May 1, 2017

Being a noodle freak, soba is another passion.  My preference is thin, not too sweet and preferably no msg. Tempura must be crunchier than usual to add accent to the soba.  

Osakaya Sunaba @ Toranomon

A 300 year old classic.  Amazing.  This is what edomae soba is about. 

Nunotsune Sarashina @ Omori

Beautiful. Another 300 year old classic. Was looking forward to the cool service by the beautiful lady in the kimono but she wasn’t here this day.  I remember talking to my wife, this lady is very impersonal and cold but it just shows how much pride and confidence they have.  Taste has not changed at all, amazing.  

Sobayoshi @ Nihonbashi

Tokyo Ramen 2017 April

May 1, 2017

Was in Tokyo for a few days so had some ramen.  

Nantsuttei @ Shinagawa

Kumamoto style good quality tonkotsu with black garlic oil and high density tonkotsu soup. Characteristic round cut noodles slightly reminiscent of spaghetti. 

Afuri @ Nakameguro

Yuzu Shoyu ramenyuzu shio ramen.  When i did my artisan shio ramen, customer said i should try this shop and it turns out it is of very good pedigree.  It is run by the Nakamura family.  Chef Nakamura is famous for his “Sky High noodle draining.  I have high respect for him who is currently in the centre of the US ramen boom. 
His creations from the Nakamuraya days are all high quality, no msg, very subtle, attention to the detail.  Using binchotan to grill the charsiu and using Yamanashi mineral water for his soup.  
Sora @ Higashi Nihonbashi

Ginsasa @ Shinbashi

Mugi to Olive @ Ginza

Was tough decision between chicken heavy soup tsukemen and the triple soup ramen.  Shallot Olive Oil. Poster saying they use Toribushi or dried chicken, a new stock ingridient I think invented by Minoru Sano.

Ikaruga @ Ichigaya 

Opted for the regular ramen.  Was blown away.  I could not fault a thing with the soup.  Pork, chicken and katsuo all expressed masterfully.  Recommended!  Exterior.  They don’t even have a sign up. Apparently they are “pre-open” and are still training but it’s been like that for 1-2years?  I walked past without noticing.  So look for the blank sign!  

Home made Sushi

February 27, 2017

I won’t try to proclaim I know what I am doing. All my knowledge is off the internet and traditional common sense.  I have so much respect for the craft.  But when you’re a picky foodie and you have 5 in your family who have picked up similar tastes, it’s really hard on the wallet to really eat “till your heart’s content worth” of sushi.  

Last Saturday arvo, I just got the craving to really pig out on sushi.  

Google Check, nearby Rufus King Seafood at Ashgrove is open and apparently offer local seafood straight from a trawler from Straddie.  

Drove up, got tuna, salmon sashimi grade, oysters and some green prawns. Not a bad start.  

As with all things, when you ask the professionals, is your fish sashimi grade, they will mumble and only point to a few things.  Usually salmon and tuna because the logistics chain and the regulations have certain criteria that a product has to clear in order for it to sell as sashimi compliant. Well to eat well in this country full of sashimi naive beaucracy, you have to take some risks. The wild caught straddie prawns were really shiny, the green tail print was so bright, I couldn’t resist and took the risk of eating one completely raw, my wife joined. We said, ok if we die, we won’t regret it. And the rest I blanched for 10 seconds.  The oysters as always landed in my and my wife’s stomachs without the kids seeing.  
On the other hand, prepped some cucumber and egg for kids friendly fare.  

I admit, my egg made in a frying pan was jaggety on the edges and the cucumber roll is not pretty and the sushi rice was too acidic due to too much vinegar. In the end, only 5 varieties of neta but we were happy and full with home quality sushi.  


Wash your sushi rice very well.  If available, get Japanese origin rice which has been hulled recently.  Rice starts to oxidise and dry very soon. Don’t look at the price but look at the mill dates or best by dates. Cook rice with a sliver of konbu.  
Mix rice with vinegar mix (vinegar, sugar, salt).  Mix in a cutting motion trying not to make the stickiness increase.  And fan while doing so to reduce the temperature.  

Cut the fish beforehand.  

Prepare tezu (hand vinegar).  Water and vinegar 4:1 should work.  

Coat your hand in tezu and clap your hands to get rid of excess tezu and to get your sushi craftsman mood up.  

Mold rice into shape in your weaker hand, put some wasabi on the rice, put fish on and squeeze gently from all angles using the palm of your weaker hand and the pointer and middle finger of your dominant hand.  The point is not oversqueezing.  The sushi rice at cheaper restaurant you might have noticed is too hard.  Try to mold the rice without making it too clumpy.  

You will need a bamboo slat to make the sushi rolls.