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

来月は地産地消で純和風ラーメンを。まずは麺のご紹介。縁あって農家さんから直接小麦をいただけました。限られた機材で自家製粉は初めての試み。結果上々です。

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.


QLD Autumn/Winter

May 24, 2021

As the weather gets cooler, things get yummier. I spent last week visiting my suppliers to prepare for next months special ramen.

First up, I visited Dan at Walker Seafoods in Mooloolaba. Water gets cooler and tuna gets fatter! QLD has in addition to the famous yellow fin tuna, some nice bigeye tuna. This is my preferred choice, more marbled, rich smooth taste.

Next I visited Tia at her farm for the land’s winter blessing. Yam potato and taro potato are being harvested at the moment. The islanders boil and eat the yam but Japanese enjoy it raw as a delicacy. She showed me her farm and that sadly her lease is ending soon and her years of hard work will be excavated flat to give way for development. She is moving to the East side and her stock is ok so I am assured I will be in good hands for June.

Finally I visit John in the Darling Downs. John produces the wheat for our flour. I caught up with him so I could secure some raw wheat grains so I could add some whole-wheat to our noodles to add an accent to the noodles.


QLD’s best produce: The Coral Trout

October 31, 2020

Super generous staff C’s husband went fishing and they gave me a fresh whole coral trout!! Look at this beauty!

I have to say, it is one of my favorite reef fish. And I think it’s one of QLD’s tastiest produce.

In my opinion, bottom reef fish generally have really great tasting white flesh but coral trout is the champion with such an elegant taste with gentle fat and firm texture.

Somehow, filleting fish has become a soothing activity for me recently. Japanese people generally and me especially enjoy the whole fish and leave nothing to waste.

I had the fish in 6 ways.

Thinly cut sashimi “usudukuri”, skin off and skin on “yubiki” (frosted with hot water and chilled). I also cleaned and boiled the stomach “ibukuro” and cut into thin pieces and ate along with the sashimi with soy sauce and wasabi. Chewy and yummy.

My filleting is not great but no fret. Frame, head, steamed chinese style. Lightly starch dusted fish steamed and topped with with fresh ginger and shallots, sweet soy sauce, hot oil poured on top for final aroma. This is my favorite style to enjoy this fish. I also enjoy the cheek and eye meat.

By the way, “China Sea” at Milton does this style of dish, “Steamed Coral Trout with Ginger and Shallots”, particularly well if you don’t have a fisherman friend or the passion to cook it up yourself. They don’t use off cuts they use fillets.

Fillet pieces lightly dusted and deep fried, “karaage”.

Finally another part of the fillet was preserved “kobujime” or cured with kelp and enjoyed at another date. Don’t have pictures. But the kelp umami transfers to the fish and also the fish aging and dehydrating makes the flavours richer. Really nice with sake.

The Fish Factory at Morningside sometimes has line caught ikejime coral trout which is also very fresh too.

C-san, gochisosama deshita!!


22 Agnes Pop Up Bakery

April 22, 2020

Been following Chef Ben Williamson’s next move and the timing could not be worse for his project getting off amidst the Corona Virus pandemic.

the bar area seating inside

I too was working like an overloaded wheelbarrow on a winding road. From a restaurant to take away / delivery plus an online shopping platform plus kitchen packing factory and logistics depot for our DIY ramen homepacks.

bar counter / impromptu service counter freshly sanitized after each customer

I was finally able to take a breath and head over to check out Agnes this morning.

Bar and bottles available for sale

Got there just before 8:00 and there was a queue of eager customers politely keeping their social distance. The anticipation grows as i see exiting customers smiling and carrying their precious baked goods.

the menu the basque cheese cake seems to be the most popular and was sold out at around 8:30 am

Inside, two parties are shown to the bar counter and order with passionate staff that are happy to fill my curiosity.

Here’s what we purchased.

  • Fermented Pumpkin Pork and Fennel Pizza = Stinky good!
  • Kouign Amann. Custard and Almond = kept for my afternoon delight.
  • Malted Sourdough = Slightly burnt bitterness of the crust complimenting the sweet and sour pillowy inside.
  • Seven Cluster Rolls = Rich and the right balance of chewy and soft.
  • Smoked butter = pretty strong! reminiscent of wood vinegar, potent and a taste that you get hooked to.
  • Pork Rillet = Smooth, can’t think of any other way to describe it but like tuna and mayo.
  • Pork Lonza = Sliced heaven.

Warmed up the pizza and the bread and we had a blissful breakfast. Obviously the bread was superb but the pork lonza was divine!! Just amazed at the skill of the team perfecting even a very specialized craft like dry curing..


Corona Related Changes

March 18, 2020

Dear Customers, we would like to express our whole hearted thanks for supporting us through these tough times. I know for a fact how fortunate we are with a steady amount of trade due to our regular customer’s faith and generosity.

The situation is getting tougher and tougher but we are committed in continuing to serve ramen because that’s all we know how to do well to give Brisbane a bit of happiness in these grim times.

Today I was in the Stones Corner kitchen experimenting some new recipes to try to create an Immunity Booster Ramen. It’s not perfect yet but please stay tuned!

Also, mainly from this week we started implementing a few measures so we can have you guys safely enjoy our ramen.

  • Reducing and distancing tables at all shops for social distancing.
  • Back dating all staff travel history so all currently rostered staff are well beyond the 14 days incubation period.
  • Stopping self service chopsticks, water and condiments (now via iPad or counter orders).
  • Placing sanitizers at all tables and toilets. Sanitizing tables and seats after each customer turnover.
  • Open windows and doors for airflow and minimal surface contact.
  • All staff to wear single use gloves for money handling and dirty dishes.
  • Considering takeaway ordering options.

It’s a bit of change and a small concern regarding the lack of tables, as it may potentially create a bit of delay on a busy day but we would rather stick to this and keep you and our staff safe than cramming customers in for a profit. Right now it’s about making sure we look after our hard core customers and keeping our staff safe and employed.

Let’s continue to do what we can to help each other in the community, look out for our elderly friends, wash our hands and keep Brisbane safe and happy.

Thank you again!

Taro Akimoto


Taro’s Ramen Ascot awarded Premium Malts Quality Master

February 26, 2020

アスコット店がサントリー様にプレモルQuality Master認定されました。南半球で6店目だそうです。嬉しいです!!密かにご来店いただき覆面調査していただいていたという事で地道な努力が報われた瞬間です。

5 years ago, I met Suntory Draft Meister Ohno san and blogged about my excitement in this post.

https://ramendo.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/suntory-premium-malts/
Who Is Ohno san the Draft Meister? https://mobile.suntory.co.jp/beer/pre-mal/kamiawa/draftadviser/

Ohno san taught me that Suntory Premium Malts is a beautiful beer, enjoyable in the can or bottle, but “extraordinary” out of the keg by pouring it right and adding the divine cappuccino head. It is the duty of each restaurant or bar to bring this new style of excitement to the customer, one that can’t be achieved at home. But this can only achieved when done right. I was excited to be able to take part of this Suntory Premium Malts movement and at the same time, felt a sense of responsibility in not letting the brand down.

Just a couple weeks ago, I got a call from Suntory. They have decided to recognize us as Suntory Premium Malts Quality Master. Ohno san’s protege, Trurumoto san visited us today at Ascot and presented me with the certificate.

Apparently, they have been following us regularly and checking on the quality of our beer under cover. Taro’s Ramen – Ascot actually becomes the 6th shop in the Southern Hemisphere to be recognized with this certificate. And it’s not just the honor, they also presented us with a special tap spout only available for Quality Master shops. The creamy head nozzle pinhole is an extra 0.2mm thinner so the trademark creamy head becomes even creamier. They only give out these tap spouts to the Quality Master shops due to concerns of mishandling including unsanitary cleaning which might lead to clogging of the tiny pinhole spout.

I am overwhelmed with the quality control regime of Suntory to actually do the field work even in a remote market like Australia and to have been recognized as a proper Suntory PM dealer.

After talking with Tsurumoto san, I felt a lot in common. They have the passion of a small batch producer and are producing a distinctly delicious beer experience but are supplying the public at an amazing price point. We are not at all comparable in size but my philosophy with ramen is essentially the same. There’s a bit of pride, certainly passion and my own satisfaction and enjoyment, and the humble nature of the craftsman thinking that we can still do better and in this feeling of being in the middle of our pursuit, we don’t falsely believe or boast to others that we have reached our goal. We are genuinely doing it to make ourselves and our customers happy and it’s not about gold plated marketing or up-selling to make a short term profit. I am proud and grateful to be able to handle a like minded brand as our favorite beer.


Pipit @ Pottsville NSW

December 16, 2019

I had the pleasure of visiting Ben Devlin’s Pipit, 2020 Good Food Guide’s Regional Restaurant of the Year.

I had been asking Ben for advice and he has been an inspiration from my very early days.

After numerous head/executive chef stints in top restaurants (including my favorite Esquire), Ben is back in his home area in the Northern Rivers area to open his own restaurant.  There he is experimenting as ever, with ways to eat healthily and deliciously whilst keeping our conscience healthy as well.  The menu is sourced entirely local, mainly organic, with minimal red meats.

The starters were all amazing!! The baby vegetables from local organic farm matched with a smoked almond paste and green garlic oil.  It’s such a privileged feeling to enjoy the delicate young life of these produce and just the tender sweetness and minimal bitterness coming out.  The bottarga canapé with Davidson plum. Obviously cream and roe, touch of sweetness, tartness, can’t go wrong! The pickle roll with mustard leaf emulsion, intentionally swaying away from any richness, keeping to sourness and bitterness, I thought was a great way to stimulize the taste buds for the courses to come. The sourdough bread with cultured cream and macadamia butter was also great.

The first course, roasted koralbi dish. I was smiling. The roasted tender koralbi pieces are soaked in stock and the contrast of the crunchy radish. The richness of the nut butter adding another decadent layer. I would never have expected it but this plant based dish was my favorite dish.

The awesome tuna carpaccio follows.  It is good quality albacore treated well with a salt cure but the combo of the tomatoes, the sour tomato plus the smoked cherry being bonded by the pea mash. The produce quality and treatment of the tomatoes was shining through.

The parsnip noodles with albacore mince. Beautiful presentation and a creative mix of flavours.

The bay lobster tartare. A local business has just recently succeeded in farming Moreton Bay Bugs and are marketing it as bay lobsters. Just beautiful. I tried cooking raw or lightly blanched bugs myself but I gave up on them because the flesh does not form a nice fillet or even a decent sized morsel to treat as sashimi so I gave up but Ben’s tartare was a great idea to showcase the delicate raw flavours in a beautiful way. The combination of flavours was awesome too using the mustard leaf emulsion to put an edge to it.

The sugar loaf cabbage with spanner crab. What a presentation. A mound of snow, creative use of shaved macadamia. A combination of exciting white coloured elements on the dish. The brown butter sauce was rich and amazing and wanted more!

The grouper was done expertly with the skin being super crunchy and flesh being perfectly done. Matched nicely with shaved squash. The grouper, and all bottom swimming fish, are great eating fish, clean, strong umami and pleasant amount of fat. The accompaniments were in their place not interfering with the star.

Some rock melon with finger lime as a palate cleanser.

The sapote dessert, the caramelized banana crisp was tasty, the coconut crisp was good, the sapote is an interesting exotic fruit with chocolate resembling characters.

The honey dessert, the ice cream was nice, and the merengue crispiness, the texture of it retaining crispiness while soaking up the honey almond milk underneath was great.

The menu. For the Saturday lunch session, you can either go prefixed or alacarte. I think it would be best if you confirm the content of the prefix or go alacarte to make sure you want to try what you see on the menu.  If I could, I would have wanted to slip in the swordfish, the duck and the alpine style raw cheese dessert with pickled carrot!

I took away a lot of inspiration and was again stimulated with Ben’s passion and creativity. The potential of a brand new category, reduced meat gourmet plant emphasis eating in the making!

Thank you for having us and thanks for your gift!


Restaurant Dan Arnold @ Fortitude Valley

December 12, 2019

Sometimes you just don’t want to instantly share your experience on Instagram or Facebook. The impact and feeling you get makes you think it deserves much better than a few photos and hashtags.

That’s exactly how I feel about RDA. I was able to sneak out on a date with my better half on a Saturday night. The place was recommended to me by my dentist (By the way, If you need a recommendation on the best dental prosthodontist in town, Please message me).

RDA got recognized by the critics this year and is deservedly on the rise in popularity. I hope people don’t go because some critics say it’s good but actually recognize themselves the quality of the cooking that goes into each single component of the dish.

Let’s talk vegetables. Say in the menu of a good alacarte restaurant, the proteins position themselves in the pole position with lavish description, whilst the vegetables are simply clumped together as “Side Dishes” and are priced reasonably, think your $8 offering of stuff like chargrilled broccolini with evoo, or a morrocan spiced legume salad. I do look forward to these healthier side kicks and order them frequently. At these good diners, I would expect a good quality produce done simply with good technique and with a bit of twist to your usual steamed veggies.

At RDA, it is all set course menu and no alacarte, and the vegetables are incorporated with the mains. They are not offered in a heaped serving but are given a varied and precise treatment full of intent. Of course the protein components are flawless but I was just blown away with the vegetables…

We started off with an amuse bouche of cured salmon and another type of canapé style crisps. Sorry no picture.

The finger food starter course continues with cucumber cigars, cheese croquettes, beet root ravioli and cauliflour mousse.

The first course is lamb. The choice of vegetables are so lively reflective of the season, broad beans, asparagus, grains, each cooked to its best texture (or maybe Dan and I have similar tastes) the asparagus slightly blanched but broad beans almost raw to keep the crunchiness. All brought together with an onion mousse.

The second course was a Wagyu rib cut. The accompanying mushroom was multi layered, some with a touch of vinegar and some with rich buttery confitness. The potato tartlet was divine… the perfect doneness of the potato just in between the crunchy raw texture to when it’s just starting to become starchy.

The house made bread, the light citrus butter went perfect with the molasses bread but personally I like sourdough with a more savory style spread.

I forgot the desert picture, It was a mango passionfruit dish paired with goats cheese. Great balance with rich and refreshing. Some petit fours to finish.

A shot with the master mind himself!

It was an extraordinary experience and an inspiring evening…

We opted for the least expensive lamb/beef three course for $80 but as you can see with all the added complimentary courses, it’s truly an experience. I am wanting to come back for the seafood/duck based 5 course. There was an alluring mention about yolk which is stuck in my mind.


La Cache A Vin @ Wharf St

October 13, 2019

Back in the days, I visited Montrachet on Caxton St. a few times. My last visit was 6 years ago.

https://ramendo.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/montrachet-paddington/

That day and most other day and nights, Thierry Galichet was almost always there to converse with us and we always had a wonderful time. Fast forward to 2019, Montrachet is now closed at its original location but Thierry’s personal presence at his new La Cache A Vin is unchanged making sure the food and wine is authentic and top quality.

I visited the other day and was greeted by J (long term regular customer of Taro’s Ramen) and Thierry himself. The decor is reminiscent of classic comfortable bistro style just like Montrachet.

We had the following beautiful dishes.

Escargot

Lobster Omelette

Steak Tartare 

Foie gras

And some Steak with Frittes for mains and of course wine! It was a wonderful truly delicious memorable experience. Thank you Thierry and team.