When it comes to ramen, I’m a self confessed newby but there’s something about this traditional Japanese dish that has really gripped me in it’s hooks as of late. It all started with what’s known as the best in Perth, Nao Ramen, and has led me to other destinations in this city – with the most recent being Nomstar Ramen in Karawara Shopping Centre.
Nomstar opened in mid 2015 and unfortunately received quite a bit of negativity towards their menu, prices and the overall flavour of their ramen. But instead of letting this get them down, owner Scott and his team revamped their offering and worked hard to improve the quality of their ramen dishes. I was looking forward to seeing whether their mission to change had resulted in a quality product.
Jeremy and I went down one night for dinner after I finished work. Nomstar is located in Waterford Plaza, across the road from Curtin University. It’s been a few (more than I’d like to admit) years since I graduated from there, and during that time the shopping centre has completely transformed. There’s a lot of dining options, and I have to admit I spied a curry puff venue that I’m particularly fond of from back in Singapore… a return back this way is a must I think!
Nomstar is small and well laid out, with a long bench for common dining, plus some individual tables on either side. We were given our choice of ramen, plus a plate of the gyoza to try. I have to admit, I was really tempted to also order some of the fried chicken wings, but Jeremy quickly reminded me I tend to have eyes much bigger than my stomach’s capacity… though it is hard to say no to fried chicken!
The pork gyoza (5 pieces for $7.00) was first to come out to the table, and looked really delicious. The pastry was thin and while the folds weren’t the prettiest I’ve seen, the crust on the outside was impressive and delicious.
The filling was stuffed to the brim with pork, with notes of ginger and spring onion cutting through the meatiness. I liked that as we bit down, the juiciness of the filling gushed out providing an even tastier mouthful. This was a great way to start our meal at Nomstar.
For his bowl of ramen, Jeremy chose the Shoyu ($14.00), which is a soy based dish. Comprised of homemade thin ramen noodles in a shoyu tonkotsu broth flavoured by a special blended soy sauce, this bowl was topped with chashu pork, ajitama egg, cabbage, menma bamboo shoots, spring onion and toasted seaweed.
Of the two ramens we tried, this was our favourite for the evening with the salty soy flavour umami rich and full of porky goodness. It wasn’t as flavoursome as I was hoping, but still hit the spot.
I liked the thinness of these noodles, which contrasted with the thick slices of that melt in your mouth chashu. I would have liked to see a runnier egg yolk as I thought this was a bit too set (and really would have liked a whole egg… but that’s because I do love those little protein balls so much).
My choice was the miso ramen ($14.00). Full of homemade ramen noodles in a miso tonkotsu broth, this was topped with chashu pork, ajitama egg, cabbage, sweet corn, bean sprouts and toasted seaweed. Mmm how good is corn in ramen! Though not for everyone, I’m quite a fan of those little sweet pops of flavour, and the way they contrast so much to the saltiness of the other ingredients.
The miso ramen has a thicker ramen noodle, which I enjoyed the al dente texture. There’s something really quite special about homemade noodles – the texture and flavour is so much more enjoyable, and it is a testament to restaurants who go this extra mile.
My broth was not quite as flavoursome as Jeremy’s, and was slightly more watery – but the salt factor was quite strong. While I enjoyed it, it didn’t quite reach the high of my partner’s. Lucky for me, he didn’t mind me digging in and slurping up his leftover broth!
All in all I though Nomstar Ramen has a decent ramen offering. Jeremy’s shoyu broth was much stronger than mine, but the flavours of both were enjoyable. I did miss the layered richness of the broths at Nao, but I think that Nomstar has potential to keep growing. I’m interested in seeing what comes next for them.
Thanks to the team at Nomstar for the invitation and the meal they provided us.