In Japan, tracking down a bowl of ramen for breakfast is as easy as walking into an Aussie cafe and ordering smashed avo on toast. But, for the most part, Sydney treats ramen as a lunch or dinner affair. With a few exceptions, you just can’t really get it before 11am.
But there’s a tiny new cafe in North Sydney that’s putting ramen on the breakfast menu – and it’s made by one of the city’s most influential ramen chefs. You can get it from 7.30am.
“We are starting to get a lot of Japanese customers coming in early for ramen, because it’s kind of what it used to be like back in Japan,” says Jonathan Yu, owner of At the Coffee Shop. “That’s a bit of the culture that we want to create.”
For his new spot, Yu has teamed up with Takeshi Sekigawa, one of the founding chefs at CBD ramen institutions Gumshara – perhaps Sydney’s first cult-favourite ramen joint – and Yasaka, the two spots largely responsible for Sydney’s obsession with tonkotsu ramen, that unctuous, almost gravy-like pork soup from Kyushu in south-western Japan.
But Sekigawa isn’t here to serve the style of soups his previous posts are renowned for. His latest project (called Sou Ramen Lab) is all about chicken – and keeping things interesting.
“We looked at the shop design, and the big counter looks a little bit like a lab, where you’re working on a big flat bench,” says Yu. “It kind of tells the customer that we’ll always be working on something new. We’re making every single ramen with a lot of soul.”
The menu changes weekly, but you can always expect a light soup (made with chicken parts simmered at a low 70 degrees celsius for 20 hours) and a heavier signature that dials up the vegetable content and complexity. There’s also a soy-based vegetarian ramen, and rotating specials that might range from a summery tsukemen (dipping noodles) to a funky chicken soup spiked with dried anchovy. All of the above come with thick and chewy flat noodles you don’t usually see in a bowl of ramen in Sydney.
The rest of the menu is a roll call of Japanese standards: beef curry, chicken katsu with rice, Wagyu sukiyaki (a hotpot-style dish) with rice and salad, and sides including gyoza and kare pan (curry bread). You can also grab Western-style breakfasts such as bacon-and-egg brioche rolls, avo toast and Brasserie Bread sourdough with spreads. There are also sandwiches filled with chicken katsu, chicken and ham, grilled Wagyu or egg.
While Sekigawa tends to the gargantuan broths out the back, Wu helms the espresso machine facing out to the street from behind that huge lab-like counter. He’s serving coffees sourced exclusively from Colombia by Colombian Connection in Marrickville, as well as Japanese tea and canned drinks.
The duo is awaiting council approval to trade for dinner during the week and on Saturdays. There are also plans to expand the menu even further and start hand-making their noodles in-house.
At the Coffee Shop x Sou Ramen Lab
Shop 5/141 Walker Street, North Sydney
0481 955 138
Mon to Fri 7am–3pm
17 Nov 2022
16 Nov 2022
15 Nov 2022
15 Nov 2022


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