Scullin Shops is becoming quite the suburban hotspot: first with Sweet Bones and now with the opening of Muku Ramen Bar.
Muku is the passion project of Hokkaido-born chef Rina Miyata. It started as a series of wildly popular pop-ups around Canberra (and even Sydney) while she renovated the beautiful corner location at Scullin. Rina has now ‘soft-launched’ the restaurant and will gradually increase opening hours over the next few weeks.
“Ramen is my comfort food. I’ve been making handmade noodles and everything: all the elements are handmade,” she told Region.
“I just wanted to share my passion with everyone.”
Rina learnt a lot of her cooking skills from her Grandmother. She explained that while many Canberrans are familiar with ramen, the Hokkaido variety of her childhood favourite is relatively unknown here.
“Hokkaido is a north island of Japan. I was born there. Hokkaido-style ramen has thick, crinkly, chewy noodles and a rich, creamy broth.”
The menu at Muku is plant-based and all-vegan. But Rina quickly said that she wants her food to be for everyone, not just vegans. Much of her cooking is grounded in the techniques and traditions of shojin ryori: Japanese temple food eaten by Buddhist, Zen and Shinto monks. Typically, this food is plant-based, handmade and contains seasonal ingredients.
“We don’t see ourselves as a vegan restaurant; we’re serving food that everyone can enjoy.”
One of her pop-ups was also entirely gluten-free, and she’s planning to include more gluten-free options as she expands the offerings at Muku. She’s also incorporating seasonal ingredients into her dishes.
A favourite menu item is Grandma’s mochi cheese potato: Japanese potato dumplings filled with house-made plant-based mozzarella and topped with their house-made BBQ sauce.
“My Grandma used to make a lot of these mochi dumplings, freeze them and send them to my family when we lived in Tokyo. She was always cooking. She would go into the mountains and pick mountain plants, mushrooms and fruits. That’s why I love edible weeds, and I think it’s why I love native Australian ingredients.”
Rina has incorporated native ingredients into sweets and desserts. She serves a seasonal parfait and even makes her own ice cream. In fact, Rina makes everything at the restaurant from scratch.
For now, there’s also a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks – including a yuzu sorbet mocktail – and eventually, there will be beer on tap, once the liquor licence comes through.
The Scullin shops have changed significantly in the past few years thanks to the efforts of the My Scullin Community group. Thanks to their efforts, they’ve reinvigorated the once near-abandoned centre. There’s now a Yoga Studio, an African supermarket, and Sweet Bones Cafe (where Rina previously worked). Rina’s connections to the community through Sweet Bones led them to encourage her to take up the lease for her Ramen Bar. As a resident of nearby Holt, Rina and her partner are pleased that the restaurant is located within their local community.
On their first night, they were packed and had a queue of people waiting for tables! Rina wants to make sure she’s able to provide the best service before she overloads herself with too many opening hours. So, for now, there are limited opening hours with a smaller menu a few evenings a week, but they will eventually expand to Wednesday through Sunday, with the possibility of weekend yum cha in the future.
Having tasted the menu at Muku, I can confirm that the mochi potato dumplings and ramen options are totally delicious! The fruit parfait was super tasty, and I honestly forgot it was vegan. So creamy! How do they do it?
Scullin is lucky to have Muku in their neighbourhood.
Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.