Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ajisen Ramen - World Square, Sydney

I'm officially running out of places to have a quick, hassle-free, cheap Japanese lunch in the city. At times like this, I wonder why don't I live in places like Hong Kong instead - where you can find even the most appaling examples of Japanese food (wafu beef stroganoff at Tsim Sha Tsui, anyone?). Even in a city as cosmopolitan as Sydney which is blessed with diverse and abundant culinary choices, VERY demanding people such as myself often wonder, "where can I find a good taraba crab rice doria a walking distance away from Pitt Street mall?"

That said, I took a surprisingly un-me step one day and decided to eat at Ajisen Ramen. You know, that ubiquitous, seemingly-mediocre Japanese ramen chain. It seems that you can't escape Ajisen anywhere you go - It's practically the first restaurant you see when you stepped out of the customs area in Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok, it's in every major shopping mall in Singapore, it's crowded with schoolkids in Jakarta, and a couple of years ago it opened its door in our very own Sydney.

In fact - I'm so sick of looking at that min-min (or min-may or any quintessentially-Chinese name according to the Japanese) mascot I want to literally scald her face with hot ramen broth (okay, that might be too cruel). Not to mention that the said mascot's image has been identified with any product that has anything to do with noodles - so in China, the image has been unlawfully used on lots and lots of noodle products. It's like, slap that mascot's image on a product and you know that it's a noodle.

Chicken Katsu Ramen

-> Too heavy on the oil. The tonkotsu soup is essentially made up of FAT, so I see no reason why they should add extra layer of oil by drenching that freshly deep-fried chicken cutlet on it. So in conclusion, this ramen is BAD for your heart. And your figure. Which means that it's delicious.

Rating: 7/10

Beef Teriyaki Set

-> Another surprisingly good dish. No wonder Ajisen is very popular worldwide - their food is actually not THAT bad. I actually define this dish as "good but I won't be craving it anytime soon"-type of dish.

Rating: 6.5/10


Leony said...

Bener...kuahnya itu, udah mengandung kaldu babi, minyakan pula... no wonder kan it tastes good. Tp bener, gue gak bakalan kangenin ini lagi sampe waktu yang luamaaaaa.... Oh iya, my mom is a pork hater. Jadi kalo makan di Ajisen, dia tuh bener2 teliti memilih ramennya yg non-pork, walaupun dia tau kuahnya pake babi. Sampe si mbaknya itu nyangka mami gue Muslim kali, kemudian disamperin: "Permisi ibu, kami di Ajisen Ramen, kuahnya memakai kaldu babi. Masih mau pesan ramennya Bu ?" Hehehe.

Erique Fat Owl said...

REALLY?? Wow, what a progress! Di Indonesia sekarang udah terang2an di mall2 menyatakan pakai babi? Hurrah for kemajemukan!

Anyway, inget gak sih, dulu tahun 80an 90an di Jakarta mana ada yang berani pake Babi, apalagi di mall2...ada restoran di luar "designated area for non-halal food" (a.k.a. Glodok-pancoran-pasar baru-petak sembilan-pluit-kelapa gading etc) yang pake babi aja harus bisik2 ngomongnya (gosip mulut ke mulut...kayak misalnya tau gak non restoran kenanga yang di Wijaya Grand Centre? Itu kan di luar daerah kota tuh...but they serve pork...pas buka, harus bisik2 bilangnya bahwa itu babi...)

Anyway, that's my impression on Jakarta before the reformation era...

aptronym said...

Went there twice. The second time to give them one more chance, and I have to say that I won't be back. I'd recommend Menya City on Bathurst St instead. A lot better and better value as well.

Erique Fat Owl said...


I couldn't agree more. Among the 4 major ramen restaurants in the City (Menya, Ichiban Boshi, Ramen-kan and Ajisen), This is probably the worst.

cla said...

I actually think of ajisen ramen more of a different breed altogether... hahaha... the "noodle" here is closer to spaghetti than the regular "ramen"... no?

i miss ramen-kan!!! the broth taste strongest here i think... MSG?? you can just feel ur face swell up after you polish off a bowl there... oh... and will never forget the horror of their super dodgy lift....

blockhead said...

just tried it few days ago.
i actually think that it wasnt that bad
but yeah, i prefer ichiban-boshi though! ichiban-boshi ftwwww :D

Erique Fat Owl said...

Ramen-kan is okay, although I still prefer Ichiban-boshi. The main reason why I hate Ramen-kan so much is their lousy, unfriendly service (some of the rudest Japanese I've ever seen on the planet works there).

Ajisen is a huge international chain. Instead of cooking sincere, authentic food, they've got all sorts of corporate policies to modify their menu according to the country they open their shops in / give franchise to. Therefore, it's 'less' Japanese than independently-owned and operated local Japanese restaurants. That's why e.g. Ajisen in China / Hong Kong has some random ingredients like doubanjiang (toubanjan, Sichuan-style spicy paste), wuxiang beef, fishballs etc because these sort of tastes are more familiar to the Chinese tastebuds than, say, tonkotsu or miso.

I guess that's good for the business, and that's the way things go, but I personally don't care much for it - therefore I almost always avoid Ajisen at all costs. I still think that Ajisen is too mass-market.

I tend to blame this on Taiwan (LOL) - they're the one who started 'taking inspirations' from Japanese food and butcher them to suit to Chinese tastebuds since WWII. (although some of the results are amazzingggg) LOL

The amount of Japanese-inspired Taiwanese food in Taiwan is shocking - although in all fairness I'm not 100% sure who's 'stealing' from who. The Japanese may well be the one stealing from Taiwan, I mean, who knows.

Geez, at times like this when I need FFIchiban (from Here Comes the Food) the most, he's not commenting here! Tweet tweet FFIchiban; you know a lot about Taiwan, care to enlighten us?

Anonymous said...

Ajisen is disappointing, my japanese friend came here just for the Ramen and he agrees with me, it just isnt that good. Maybe my friends expectations are too high.......I like RAmen Kan but it is a bit small and Ichiban boshi is really busy and ive never had the chance to try there pork dish which they only make so much of......because its either not ready or its all out


blockhead said...

hey erique thanks for droppin by my blog :)

ah, readin ur blog in the middle of the night always makes me hungry!ahaha