-> In Japan, a ramen restaurant is a one-person-one-dish type of restaurant. At least that's what I've noticed anyway. You're supposed to come in, state which type of ramen you want, be served a glass of water, eat your ramen, pay up and leave. That's how the Japanese do it anyway. However, outside Japan, there are plenty of side dishes to accompany your ramen. This is because ramen is considered an exotic food outside Japan, and therefore a ramen restaurant should offer a complete dining experience. Ergo, there's a need for lots of embelishments such as variety of side dishes, drinks, non-ramen items, etc - more so than in Japan. In Japan, it is very unusual for a ramen restaurant to serve sushi. Well, that's what so great (or not, depends on what kind of person are you) about ramen restaurants outside Japan. In Jakarta, Indonesia for example - they even serve 'Japanese' spring rolls and 'Japanese' triple choc brownies in one of the ramen restaurants I've been to.
Even though I'm not Japanese, I always feel that ramen restaurants are supposed to be one of those quick eat-and-go kind of place. To me, eating ramen in a place full of waiters in a proper restaurant-type seating & tables are just a tad weird. It's like, a kebab shop - surely it would be weird to find somewhere out there in another country, kebab is served in a proper restaurant with proper ambience and lots of waiters on tableclothed tables. You know what I mean?
-> Some people in the know would be able to tell straight away that I've been putting off posting this entry for awhile now just by looking at this food. Yup, this is one of the two absolute BEST summer dishs out there (the other one being cold somen). Not the best one I've tasted (and I've tasted quite a fair share of hiyashi chuuka around the globe), but considering that there aren't many places in Sydney that serve this thing, it's quite a pleasant experience.
-> I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but I'm a total artificial fruit drink freak. The faker it taste, the better. I hate real juice. Well, I actually don't hate real juice, but I just hate things that even has the slightest bit of acidity to it (i.e. sour). Fake fruit flavorings are usually either 'trying to be real' or 'trying to be fake'. In the West, fake fruit flavorings are desperately trying to be real. That's why even those arificial fruit drinks, jellos, etc you find on your local supermarkets STILL taste sour-ish, because let's face it, most real fruits are sour and Western food scientists always strive to create artificial flavors that are closest to the originals.
In the East, however, artificial fruit flavorings are always 'trying to be fake' - e.g., things like mango lollies do NOT taste anything like real mangoes - but somehow, through some pre-installed information somewhere in our brain, we know that that flavor IS supposed to represent mango. Odd, isn't it.
For me, living in Australia is rather frustrating in the sense that even artificial fruit flavors are trying so hard to taste as close to the real thing as possible. I know, you're thinking "what kind of logic is that??" - but in my opinion, if I want to eat something that taste like real mango, or real melon, I would get some real mangoes and melons and eat them. When I see "mango cream biscuits" or "mango soda", I'm expecting something that taste ARTIFICIAL. I don't know - maybe it's an Asian thing. I grew up eating Japanese & Asian candies, lollies, confectionary, cordials etc that taste particularly artificial - that's why I crave those flavors every now and then.
Also, I think artificial fruit flavors that are trying to be real are just plain pretentious.
-> Definitely a must-order. This is pretty authentic-tasting. The soup is infused with all kinds of Cantonese delights. A true representation of Chinese-style Japanese dish. I like this with loads of menma (bamboo shoots) added to it.