I ate at GOGYO back in February just before I flew out on my first trip to Japan. The plan was to have a good ramen before I left and then compare it to the best from the motherland. Odd thing was I only ate two ramen in Japan and neither of them even came close to the awesome that is GOGYO. I am no expert on ramen but this was the single best ramen I have eaten in my life. But there’s a catch…..
GOGYO (meaning the five elements of earth, fire, water, metal and wood) is owned by Chikaranomoto Global Holdings (which is also behind IPPUDO in Sydney). Currently there are three GOGYO outlets in Japan, one in Hong Kong, and now, one here.
GOGYO’s ramen master and founder, Shigemi Kawahara, broke with Japanese traditions in 2003, by burning the hell out of the miso. Deliberately. This is how kogashi miso was born. Meaning “charred” in Japanese, the method originally hails from Hakata, the ramen capital of Japan, and is made by over-heating lard in a wok to 300 degrees celsius, then adding miso paste or a special soy base (there are two kinds – we try both below), followed by chicken broth to quell the flames and create a smoked broth. It’s then topped with chashu (barbequed pork), cabbage and a flavoured egg.
From reading a few posts about GOGYO it appears there are approximately 80,000 ramen venues in Japan (how did I not eat more!!!) and GOGYO is up towards the top of the ramen ladder. Their venue off the Nishiki Market in Kyoto has regular queues and people talking about it like a religious experience in a ramen-like hallucinatory mecca.
THE GOGYO VENUE:
GOGYO is located in the now dearly departed SALARYMAN venue, I only got to attend SALARYMAN for the Hawker Chan special visit early in 2017 – such an epic experience. Where SALARYMAN was grungy and more Japanese Rockstar Dining with graffiti art and lots of neon, GOGYO is more refined. It is muted tones, warmly lit and offers plenty of exposed materials, both venues were designed by Paul Kelly.
The mood only really pops with the large orb like light fixtures and towers of fire every few minutes. It feels more zen and allows the food to be the centrepiece art of the venue, those towers of fire when the fat us being set on fire really do explode in colour. Kelly and GOGYO were happy recycling the venue as opposed to starting fresh. It is basically SALARYMAN completely toned down to raw materials.
We attended close to opening and the venue was packed. The service was less than impressive and some items did not arrive, un-ordered extra items arrived and eventually we were charged for a few things we did not order – it was corrected in the end begrudgingly but to be honest I am not holding it against the venue too much as it was freshly opened and nowhere near as bad as the service in the opening month of CHIN CHIN Sydney. The food more than made up for it.
WHAT WE ORDERED:
- King Prawn Guacamole $16
- Chicken Sasami Jerky $8
- Gogyo Original Gyoza $13
- Crackling Piggy Roll $6 (each) – currently off the menu
- Twice Cooked Pork Belly with Brussel Sprouts $26 – currently off menu with a Sweet Sticky Pork Belly replacement
- Chilli Shoyu $17 – Spicy chicken broth, habanero pork mince, bamboo shoots, tomato coriander, pork belly chashu **Noodles: #18W medium (medium hydrolysis)
- Kogashi Miso $18 – Charred miso base, original chicken broth, half umami egg, pork belly chashu **Noodles: #16F medium-thin (low hydrolysis)
- Kogashi Shoyu $18 – Charred shoyu base, original chicken broth, half umami egg, pork belly chashu **Noodles: #16F medium-thin (low hydrolysis)
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The drink game was good – we started with some wonderful cocktails. The No. 5 – Gin, Chambord and tonic was my starter. The wines are a mostly Australian selection with some Japanese bottles in the mix and their Rosés come from France. I loved their beers, they have seven on offer with three of them being different Asahi on tap. Then four Australian Craft beers range from Marrickville for the Grifter Pale Ale to the Balter XPA from Queensland.
We mostly sampled the entrées as there was six of us to get through them. The guacamole was beautiful and fresh and all guacamole should now only be made with king prawns. The chicken sasami jerky was a table favourite and I will be eating this dish again and all to myself. Sasami is the tenderloin and the flavours were salt and unami, this dish and a beer is a perfect start to any meal. Their gyoza were packed with flavour and the mild fry added a slight crunch texture that complimented the soft delicious contents – definitely one of the best gyoza I had eaten in a long time. Lastly was the Crackling Piggy Rolls. These were a treat but more European than Japanese. Just think Japanese pork sliders.
There are a lot of mains on offer. GOGYO is about the famous ramen but there is much more that can take your fancy. If in a group just try a bunch of them if you can. You can dine here for $17- and just eat a ramen, maybe grab a beer. Or you can feast and spend a lot. The mains are mostly all share accompanying dishes. Karaage Chicken, Sashimi, Wagyu Flank Sumiyaki and School Prawn Isobe-Age to name a few.
We devoured one and I wish we ordered six of it. A Twice Cooked Pork Belly and Brussel Sprouts dish. Basically two of my favourite things combined. I could live off this dish, ok and maybe the ramen. They don’t have it on the menu at the moment but do have a Sweet Sticky Pork Belly which sounds like a version of this dish – just order it!
Mains Part 2: Ramen:
Then there is the ramen. There is two main ramen to choose from; the Kogashi Shoyu or the Kogashi Miso. Different in flavour but made with the same method. It is the choice between a burnt smoked soy or a burnt smoked miso based broth. The first is very salty, it’s thick, molasses-like, bitter and the broth is incredibly rich. The flavours include garlic and sesame and obviously heavy soy. It is as black as hell and to be honest is so powerful to eat I was glad I only shared the one bowl. It’s heavy. But with the addition of the noodles, the pork, cabbage and egg makes one rewarding dish. This is the kind of ramen you eat once a month, not once every few days. When we hit winter I am going to be wanting this one a lot more.
The Kogashi Miso is it’s polar opposite – it is a potent miso broth that is pure raw earthiness and lard. It is as heavy as the Shoyu but purely miso. I liked them as much as each other. I ordered the Miso and my friend Kat ordered the Shoyu and we swapped half way – we eventually swapped back because we preferred our original order. Again this is a delicacy ramen, not a regular Wednesday lunch ramen. Too much of these is a bad thing haha. But they are sublime and an experience to treasure.
I am not too expert on the noodle front but the different ramen are served with different noodles. From what I have read lower hydrolysis noodles are thicker noodles used in more humid areas that use less (but heavier broth) in the bowl so the noodles remain al dente. In the North of Japan they use more broth in the bowl and so have thinner noodles and broth because they are not effected by humidity – this aids in the noodles not overcooking. The Kogashi noodles are medium thin – I would not however take this as indication the broth is thinner.
The Chilli Shoyu one of our guests ate used a medium nood, is this because of the humidity caused by you sweating at how bloody hot this dish was? My friend Lachlan ate this one and OMG, as a chilli lover, even he looked to be sweating and on a struggling chilli high. I would only recommend this for serious chilli lovers.
There is a fourth ramen we did not indulge in – a Tonkotsu Ramen made from a 24yr old recipe with pork bone broth – this is the regular ramen you could enjoy with occasional Kogashis as a treat. For the vegetarians out there they do offer a fifth, Veggie Soba Ramen, that looks fantastic but we did not get to try this one.
They only offer two desserts; two versions of Taiyaki (Red Bean or Nutella with Sobacha Sorbet) or a Mango Bongo – we did not eat dessert but the options could be increased. They appeared more like an afterthought than as a pro-ramen compliment to match the rest of the menu’s calibre.
GOGYO is a master in the ramen world, in answer to my title question…… that’s a resounding yes from me, although to be fair I haven’t tried all the ramen in Sydney. The Kogashi are a wonderful heavy specialty ramen – if you chose to indulge regularly you would die but on occasion they are dishes that will blow your mind but not your wallet. If ramen is your game and you have yet to visit GOGYO – you need to fix this culinary discrepancy immediately.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 0/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
PH: 02 9212 0003
52-54 Albion St, Surry Hills NSW 2010
BOOKINGS: Yes via Dimmi
PRICING: Medium – Ramen is only $17-.
Mon – Fri: 12 – 230pm & 530 – 10pm
Sat: 1130am – 230pm & 530 – 10pm
Sun: 1130am – 230pm & 5 – 830pm
TAKEAWAY: I can find no evidence
LOCAL DELIVERY: I can find no evidence
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: No
They do not have a website?!!?
*** This meal was paid for ***
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