Being something of a ramen obsessive, I always live in hope of discovering new or hidden ramen shops in my home city of Perth. Although the worldwide ramen craze has definitely taken off in a big way in Sydney and Melbourne, there are far fewer ramen specialists of note in Perth, and in a recent discussion with a friend we both expressed our dismay over the fact so few in the CBD are open at night, and when they do its only on Friday nights - don't they know ramen is an anytime food?!? One Friday night, Alissa and I headed into Perth to try relatively new ramen joint Hikaru Ramen only to discover they were no longer open for Friday evenings - or any evenings at all for that matter! With both of us not working in the CBD, it would take Alissa and another 3 months before we finally got around to try our first bowls from Hikaru Ramen.
Located in St Martin's Centre on St George's Terrace, Hikaru Ramen is tucked away just behind Coffee Club and Croissant Express, however the restaurant features a nice al fresco dining area in St Martins Square. When they opened, Hikaru offered all four of the main ramen broth styles - Miso, Tonkotsu, Shoyu and Shio - however by the time of our visit the Shio broth was no longer on offer. Additionally, the original menu seemed to offer set toppings and broth combinations, however they now allow for the diner to choose any of the three broths for any of the toppings. As a greedy ramen fan, I also was pleased to see the restaurant offered free Kae-dama - an extra serve of noodles for those who are still hungry (or, more likely, greedy noodle fiends)!
As an entree, Alissa and I shared a plate of Pork Gyoza. Too often, Gyoza can be over fried and burnt, or stingy on the fillings. These Gyoza on the other hand were very very good, being juicy, plump and meaty dumplings with a good, silky casing that was pan fried to perfection without being greasy. I would definitely rate these are some of the best I've had in Perth.
For my main, I had the Chashu Ramen with the Tonkotsu Broth. Hikaru's Tonkotsu Broth is very different to the more garlic-forward flavour of the Tonkotsu Ramen at Kai in Bull Creek, and was more similar in style to the sweet, porky flavour of Tatami in Bateman. Hikaru's broth was better realised however, having a better depth of flavour that suggested a longer boiling time and that lipsmacking unctuousness I've come to know and love from a Tonkotsu broth. The noodles too were very good - similar in quality to places like Kai and Dosukoi (but not as good as Nao), they had good bite to them that was better than the soggy noodles we had the last time we dined at Arigataya. Unfortunately, the toppings were not quite as excellent, with the Chashu slices being tougher than the melt in your mouth softness of Dosukoi and Arigataya, and the egg yolk just a touch further down the road to being set than I prefer.
Being a chilli fiend, I added my customary sprinkling of Shichimi Togarashi to my bowl. I was probably a bit too heavy-handed, however it did not take away from what was a very enjoyable ramen.
For a point of difference, Alissa went with the Miso Ramen with the Karaage. Noodles were identical in quality to my bowl, so the main point of difference was the broth. The broth was a decent Miso broth, however we both agreed that their Tonkotsu broth was the superior of the two. Alissa felt that compared to the gold standard Miso Broth at Nao, Hikaru's broth needed a bit more garlic and salt and said that the Tonkotsu simply had 'more balls to it'.
The Verdict: Very Good
I've long lamented how few Tonkotsu Broths are available in Perth. Previously, Tonkotsu fans either had to resort to the soggy noodles of Arigataya or the weak broth of Zensaki, however with the addition of Hikaru there is now at least a strong contender for the Tonkotsu crown in the CBD. By Perth standards this is very impressive and porky Tonkotsu, however I still contend that we don't have a Tonkotsu Broth that can equal the refined Hakata style Alissa and I enjoyed at both Ichiran Ramen in Hong Kong and Kokoro in Melbourne, or the sledgehammer to the face porkiness of Gumshara in Sydney. Nevertheless with their excellent Karaage, Gyoza and the offering of Kae-dama, Hikaru Ramen are a ramen joint Alissa and I would recommend - and would definitely visit again.