Sushiman, Balmain: Spicy seafood ramen

Rating: 2 out 5

Sushiman
321A Darling Street, Balmain 2041

seafood ramen

Although there is a vast array of decent ramen restaurants in Sydney, the common Australian’s experience with ramen noodles is usually the instant variety.  Those little rectangular cakes of fried noodle in cellophane packaging are the staple diet of students everywhere, unless you are a slightly more affluent student, whereby the pot noodle is a bit of a step up.

My previous ramen experience here at Sushiman was decidedly average, with my Spicy Chicken Ramen reminiscent of a packet of Shin Ramyun. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shin Ramyun (it’s my Plan B dinner when I’m lazy – just crack an egg and add some vegies and you have a delicious meal within 10 minutes!), however I expect something more when I’m paying $10 for a restaurant-standard ramen.

On this visit, I was keen to give the ramen another go.  This time I went for the Spicy Seafood Ramen – it’s damn hard for me to go past the spicy version of anything when it’s on offer (KFC Hot n Spicy is a prime example!).  The bowl of ramen was served with a reasonably generous cocktail of frozen seafood mix, which included miniature shrimp, claims, mussels, calamari and octopus, along with a decent variety of fresh vegetables including green beans, sliced carrot, eggplant, and broccoli.  The soup was better than last time, taking on a seafoody flavour, and the noodles were still the instant type, and slightly overcooked as they were a tad too soft.

This is not anywhere close to an authentic style, quality ramen, being made with instant ramen and frozen seafood mix.  It’s still a relatively satisfying feed with a nice mix of vegetables and seafood (even if it is the frozen mix variety), however next time I fancy instant noodles, I’ll make my Shin Ramyun at home.

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New Shanghai, Ashfield: Stir fried la mian with pork and vegetables

Rating: 2 out of 5

New Shanghai
273 Liverpool Road, Ashfield 2131

hand made noodle la mian

One of the most mesmerising experiences one can have is to witness la mian being made.  In Chinese, it means “pulled noodle”, and it’s a fascinating sight seeing the noodle puller repeatedly stretching and pulling a nondescript pile of dough into fresh, springy noodles.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the noodles being made tonight at New Shanghai, as it was a late 8pm weeknight dinner visit.  Despite this, the restaurant was still full of chatty diners, overwhelmingly of Chinese background, which is always a good sign for a Chinese restaurant!  We were seated quickly and served a hot pot of tea, with the waitress coming back within around 30 seconds to take our order.  Eager to please, or get us in and out so that they could go home!

We ordered the stir fried la mian with pork and vegetables, since it was the first item on the noodle menu and presumably the safe choice, but also because the photo illustration at the bottom of the dish looked pretty damn good.  When it arrived, we looked at each other with instant disappointment. The noodles only just covered the bottom of the white rectangular dish, with no whiff of volume or generous proportions.  It certainly looked nothing like the picture on the menu.

The noodles themselves were deliciously springy and not too soft, stir fried in a tasty soy-based sauce with a hint of chilli.  However, the noodles were the only salvation for this dish.  The aforementioned pork was barely existent, with only a few scratchings of marinated meat which were even outnumbered by the small amount of choy sum vegetable.

Overall, the dish was disappointing considering our high hopes.  A paltry serving with very little meat overshadowed the beautiful noodles.  Not a good value proposition at all.

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