14 April 2023

Canteen perfects the art of noods and booze

| Lucy Ridge
Bowl of Ramen with condiments on wooden bench at Canteen

The Classic Daddy ramen features a cloudy chicken broth, perfectly charred pork and delicious noodles. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The team behind Ramen is now selling their cult-favourite bowls of ramen out of a mixed-use building in the Dairy Road precinct.

Opening late last year, Canteen specialises in “noods and booze” for lunch or dinner. The menu is concise, offering a few different snacks: rice bowls, mazesoba (dry noodle bowls), and ramen.

Canteen specialises in tori (chicken) broth in both paitan (cloudy) and shoyu (soy-based) styles. The noodles for the ramen are hand-made daily in-house from Australian rye in Canteen’s custom ‘noodle room’.

Restaurant interior with view into glassed off room with grain mill and noodle roller

You can eat right next to the noodle room at Canteen. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The space feels warm and intimate with wooden furnishings throughout. The open kitchen dominates the space on one side of the restaurant; on the other, there are shelves lined with colourful sake bottles.

I arrive for lunch on a Thursday. The place is comfortably full with groups sitting at shared long tables in the building atrium out front of the restaurant, couples inside at restaurant tables and more people outside in the leafy courtyard. I perch on a stool at the low bar next to the kitchen pass and check out the menu.

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Despite being thoroughly tempted by the chicken katsu sando (Japanese-style fried chicken sandwich), I know ramen is notoriously filling and I don’t want to over-order. But I find it hard to resist a good condiment, and there’s a small dish of house-made cucumber apple and seaweed tsukemono (pickles) that looks too good to miss so I get that alongside a ‘Classic Daddy’ ramen.

Bottles of Sake

Canteen has an impressive collection of sake and Japanese spirits. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

I also ordered a grapefruit, yuzu and soda non-alcoholic drink. The soda is refreshing: just the right level of acidity with a touch of sweetness.

The ramen is excellent. I’m most familiar with the rich, creamy tonkatsu pork ramen broth, but the tori paitan (cloudy chicken broth) here is lighter. I feel like the flavours of the noodles and toppings have more opportunity to shine. The mushrooms, in particular, are exceptionally good: they’ve been pickled, giving them a velvety texture, and the flavour bursts out when I bite into them. The slow-cooked pork belly is practically falling apart and has beautiful char.

The pickles are cold and refreshing with a surprising hit of chilli coming on the back end of sesame oil seasoning. They act as a nice contrast to the hot, rich ramen broth.

A bowl of pickles next to the kitchen pass at Canteen.

The house-made cucumber apple and seaweed tsukemono (pickles) are a tasty condiment. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

The hero of the ramen is truly the noodles. The team has perfected the art of the nood and nailed the silky texture and satisfying chew. The rye grain adds a beautiful nutty flavour, and a variegated texture and tone.

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At night, Canteen transforms into an izakaya – a style of casual Japanese bar known for serving alcohol and snacks in the evenings.

The menu stays broadly the same as during the day, although a few more snacks are available. Evenings are the time to explore the drinks menu of cocktails, Australian wine, Japanese and Australian whiskies and gins, and a few excellent, grown-up, non-alcoholic options. There’s also a full page of sake, split into tasting categories like ‘light & fine’ or ‘deep and umami’.

Canteen sign outside building.

Canteen is located in the Dairy Road precinct. Photo: Lucy Ridge.

At many ramen shops, it feels like there’s some unwritten challenge to make every bowl unreasonably big, with each piling more on than the last so it’s refreshing to encounter a bowl of ramen that is exactly enough but not too much. I don’t need to feel guilty for leaving half the bowl full, nor do I have to force myself to finish the last few spoonfuls.

I’ll get that katsu sando next time.

Canteen is located at 1 Dairy Road, Fyshwick. They are open for lunch from Wednesday to Saturday, 11.30 am to 2 pm, and on Sunday from 11.30 am to 3 pm, and for dinner from Thursday to Saturday from 5 pm until late.
They are also open for coffee from 9 am Monday to Friday.
Follow Canteen on Instagram.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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