Grown @ South Brisbane

July 26, 2018

Those who know me, will know I am no means a vegan. I love meat, the style of ramen I create centers around meat. I event take the self claimed role as ambassador for Bangalow Sweetpork.

So I had heard good things about this little vegan diner and I was genuinely interested but instinctively not overly obsessed with getting there in a hurry. Plus I had actually missed a few attempts just purely due to lack of investigation rocking up on Mondays and Tuesdays when they are closed.

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Plastic Bag Ban

June 18, 2018

Frankly speaking, take away of ramen is not recommended. The noodles are best al dente and the soup is best hot. The magic is lost by the second. So everytime a ramen is taken away, I cry a little inside…

But ideals aside, people have a lot of valid needs and requirements to take our food away. So we always respect and cater for this.

To cater takeaway and to also try to do our share for the environment, we are already using some bio-plastic containers in our venues and we are also getting ready for the Single Use Plastic Bag Ban from July 1.

So, in come the idea of custom printed paper bag project!

Where possible, sourcing local is our policy. Got our paper bags from @ Archerfield. They have a wide range of all sorts of bags and at a sharp price and unbelievable service! We can’t afford custom printing so I had an idea.

Got my custom made stamp at @ New Farm. Came out nice!

The bags are more sturdy compared to plastic and will keep the containers upright so that’s a plus but I just hope the soup doesn’t spill inside. For this risk, we are only able to use plastic containers for the time being.

*Bio-plastic can’t handle the heat and paper or plant fibre containers can’t form a water tight hold. If anyone has a good solution on takeaway solution for hot soupy stuff, please let me know.

Ku-O at Gabba

May 22, 2018

At first I came here on the recommendation of my regular customers and was surprised to find much more than a familiar face.

Actually story goes back to 2004.

Back then, we had the luxury of eating out wherever we pleased and actually enjoying the night (now we have to feed three more hungry and loud mouths). I was a young coal trader from Tokyo enjoying expat life in the Teneriffe woolstore apartments. There was a Spanish restaurant called Miro’s just down the road run by Jose and I used to frequent it. It was a lovely institution and was probably a positive factor in me opening up a restaurant. The sight of Jose and his team having a proper dinner after service seemed like perfect happiness.

Anyway, there was a middle aged German couple that was always there, even more than us and they would lay out about 6 bottles of wine on the table, drink about 4 of them and start lighting a cigar as the other patrons left. On many of those nights, he had Nami san at the table helping empty the 4th bottle. We naturally introduced each other and talked a little, back then, I think Nami san was the sushi chef at a Japanese restaurant in Toowong. The German gentleman spoke highly of Nami San’s sushi skills but having just come from Tokyo, I was preoccupied discovering various cuisines not available in Japan so I never got around to visiting Nami sans shop. I thought I will one day but those fond days quickly changed with the arrival of our child and the eventual closure of Miro’s.

Fast forward to 2018. I am now a Ramen chef in Brisbane and having been here for 14 years now, and with 3 hungry roudy kids, we are always looking for reasonable family friendly venue serving comforting Japanese food. All these years I knew of Ku-O in Sunnybank but I usually went to Sunnybank for Chinese and not Japanese. Anyhow, I wasn’t interested in their Ku-O Woolongabba shop in the beginning, same owners, same quality was my prejudgement. But I kept on getting recommendations from multiple customers including a foodie family and Japanese expats who knew their sashimi.

So I finally decided to pay them a visit a couple months ago and was pleasantly surprised to find Nami San, with his strong passion at the sushi counter. Expectation was completely exceeded, I must say I don’t know of a better way to spend $36 than the Large Sashimi platter expertly prepared by Nami San. It takes energy and passion to stock and prepare this much variety of fresh fish. Just look at any other Japanese restaurant. They usually only stock Salmon and Tuna, maybe kingfish and Nz snapper if lucky, plus frozen Prawns and frozen cuttlefish. Nami san always has far greater variety, all fresh mainly local.

And the value! Feeding my family of 5 is usually a bank breaking task but Ku-O is so generous and well priced we just find ourselves coming back again and again. Of our countless visits, guess what’s the one thing we always order, Large Sashimi Platter, cut thin. Nami san is happy to cater to requests like this. And for a mere $36, he wows us with the best fish of the season and his skills. Sometimes it might be the springy grouper or the freshest garfish or maybe the local squid with countless hidden knife incisions so the texture is just perfect.

I like the fact we can just walk in on most days so being greedy I am a bit reluctant to tell people about this gem but I hope Nami San gets the recognition and business he deserves.

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.