Tosaka Ramen, Perth
Kazuo Yoshida (third from left) of Tosaka Ramen, Perth
Tosaka Ramen, Perth
Any visit to Tosaka, a homely 30-seat ramen restaurant on William Street in Northbridge, requires a degree of patience.
You’ll likely have to line up to get in. (Bookings aren’t taken, and on weekends lunch and dinner queues start pretty much from opening time.) You’ll likely have to wait to order while cheery staff dart from table to counter to kitchen, relaying food, drinks and dockets. And while the kitchen crew meticulously assembles every bowl of tori paitan: a creamy, frothy ramen soup with a deep chicken flavour that stays with you long after you settle your tab. In short, your patience won’t go unrewarded. But if you do find yourself short on perseverance, look to the story of Tosaka owner Kazuo Yoshida for inspiration.
Born in Osaka, Japan, Yoshida began cooking tempura and sushi in his hometown before heading to nearby Kyoto to continue his education – not just in the ways of deep-frying seafood and pressing nigiri by hand, but also in the art of good noods.
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“I grew up with tori paitan,” says Yoshida. “It looks quite heavy but it’s quite light. After you eat it, you don’t feel sick. Kyoto is very famous for its chicken broth, and if you go there, there are lots of shops everywhere. I went to so many shops to research.”
Following a move to Australia, Yoshida had to put his ramen aspirations on hold. First was a stint at a high-end Sydney hotel making sushi, followed by a relocation to Perth, where he worked at sushi train restaurant Jaws. Seemingly all sushi-ed out, Yoshida opted for a change of scenery and temporarily got out of restaurants. Among his more memorable gigs: helping prepare business- and first-class meals for Qantas. In 2019, he finally got the chance to cook the noodles he grew up eating with the opening of Tosaka (the Japanese word for a rooster’s comb) at the former Baby Mammoth site on William Street. His decision wasn’t just about repping the Kansai region of south-central Japan – it was about adding to the Japanese dining options in Perth.
“A lot of people were doing similar styles of ramen back then,” says Yoshida. “I wanted to bring something new.”
Our man’s tenacity aside, Yoshida’s soup is also an endorsement for doing things the long way. Each batch starts with a 200-litre stockpot filled with chicken bones (among other unnamed ingredients). It’s boiled hard for eight hours, then a further two hours of cooking reduces the soup and amps up the chicken flavour. The high temperature helps the chicken fat emulsify into the soup to create tori paitan’s signature cloudy body and texture. As standard issue, every bowl comes spiked with a house-made spring onion oil with optional power-ups, including a sprightly red prawn oil (made in-house) and black garlic (also made in-house, but slowly roasted rather than fermented). Another key detail is using a stick blender to whisk each bowl before it gets served. This isn’t just an aesthetic consideration: those tiny, cappuccino-like bubbles help the broth cling to the noodles as they’re lifted from the bowl. (The noodles, while not produced on the premises, are made over east according to Yoshida’s specifications.)
Fried onions and black pepper are on-hand to help eaters fine-tune their bowls while tender slices of chicken chashu – chicken breast slowly poached sous-vide till buttery – and the soy-soaked ajitsuke tamago (ramen egg) help bulk up the noodles. A menu of donburi (rice bowls) is also offered, as is an excellent vegetarian ramen that’s thickened with soya milk – a classic Kyoto move that some might recognise from vegan ramen restaurants such as Neko Neko in Melbourne.
While ramen is the main attraction, Tosaka also has a small selection of entrees, such as chicken karaage and nori-sprinkled chips, that helps pass time between ordering and eating – as does the tight edit of alcoholic drinks, including sake and Japanese beers.
Unit 2, 305 William Street
(08) 6107 6380
Mon to Tue 5.30pm–9pm
Sat & Sun 12pm–2pm, 5.30pm–9pm
20 Sep 2022
13 Sep 2022
07 Sep 2022
30 Aug 2022