Ramen rising in Raglan

Japan’s national noodle of choice, ramen, is characterised by its rich, deeply flavoured broth, handmade noodles, and array of condiments. Recently the iconic noodle is experiencing a popularity surge in western countries with ramen shops popping up in the States, Australia and now in Raglan, New Zealand too.

Raglan is really the last place that thirty-one-year-old Tsubasa Matsumura thought he would be making ramen. Having always wanted to open his own ramen shop he spent a lot of time in Japan learning the secrets of ramen making.

“I guess I always wanted to open my own ramen shop so I could work during lunch and then be free to go for a surf, but I think the reality isn’t quite that simple,” laughs Tsubasa.

Tsubasa has four years under his belt working in ramen shops in Japan including a year at Ippudo, a ramen chain that has stores in 12 countries including cities like New York, Sydney and London (the NYC Ippudo can have waiting times of 90 minutes or more at five o ‘clock on a Tuesday).

A bowl of ramen consists of four basic elements: the broth, the tare (concentrated soup base/sauce), the noodles and the toppings. In Japan, ramen is serious business with each shop having their closely guarded, secret methods for creating the unique broth and tare combos that make up the delicious soup.

There are also four basic types of tare that flavour the soup: shoyu (soy sauce base), miso (miso paste base), shio (salt base) and tonkotsu (pork bone base).

The ramen Tsubasa is making at Aloha Sushi is based off a traditional Tokyo-style shoyu ramen. He has spent the last couple of months developing a pork and chicken based broth using bacon bones from Raglan Butchers to add a smokey flavour, which he hopes will appeal to kiwis.

The most important thing about ramen is that it is eaten straight away.

“When it is left sitting for too long the noodles suck up the soup and you lose the texture in the noodles,” says Tsubasa.

Aloha Sushi will only be offering ramen during evenings from 5pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays so they can take the time to serve customers in-store rather than providing takeaways meals.

“I’m still tweaking a few things, but would love for everyone to come and try it!” Says Tsubasa.

Aloha Sushi is open for lunch Wednesdays to Mondays 11am to 4pm and evenings Friday to Sunday from 5pm to late.

M.N.