“Trust me, you just have to go” said our good friend Alex to me as I professed to not having a soft spot for ramen noodles. But trust I did, and off we went! The Dojo Ramen Bar is a tight rectangular space divided by a bar; yet the whole place felt warm and cozy somehow. Perhaps the feeling was from the wooden accents throughout the dining room, or the Japanese decor illuminated softly by the overhead lamps. Nah. Let’s get real. Being elbow to elbow with a full-house of people hovering over steaming bowls of ramen makes things warm and cozy real quick! 😉
I had a Glass of House Red ($7.00/glass) which was as expected: wet, red, and tannin-y. Hubby Bear and Alex both had the Robot Ninja Beer ($9.00/each), a very fittingly named beer in a Japanese eatery.
We started with cheesey rolls. Yes, you read correctly. Cheesey Rolls. Never, never would we have ordered this if it weren’t for Alex’s insistence that it was “a must try”. The Cheesey Rolls ($5.00) were basically a mozzarella-type cheese deep fried in a spring roll wrapper, so nothing special there….nothing special until you dip those suckers in the miso-mayo dip!! O.M.G. that dipping sauce!! It literally doesn’t matter what you have in your hand, just dip it and go to a happy place. Thank you Alex. (bow)
The other three entrées we had were the Veg Gyoza ($8.00), the Salmon Skewers ($12.00), and the JFC Ponzu ($10.00). The boys shared the pan fried tamari & garlic marinated salmon and said, while they were tasty, the pile of blitzed daikon radish did “nothing for the dish“. On the other hand, the “Japanese Fried Chicken” was quite a hit; they popped crunchy battered fried chicken pieces into that magical dip – and munched away with grins on their faces! As a vegetarian, I didn’t partake in this entrée, but I did love the dip from afar.
Hands-down, the veg gyoza were among some of the more flavoursome I’ve ever had out. My experience with veg gyoza, dumplings and spring rolls is — it’s not easy making those suckers tasty (or taste like anything) without drowning them in soy, but these gyoza pass muster all by their little-green-selves. Little bursts of ginger and veggies inside were great, made even greater when dipped in the vinegar-soy. A definite must have for my fellow veg-heads. (And yes, I did plunge my last gyoza into that miso-mayo dip that was leftover from the boys’s JFC. Evil, I know. But it had to be done.)
Hubby bear tried the Chili Miso Ramen ($13.50) and reported that while it was spicy, it wasn’t too spicy, it was just right. Slices of pork, half an egg, spring onion, bamboo shoot slices, nori seaweed and a generous serve of noodles were slurped up quick-smart. A solid broth mixed with solid ingredients = a winning combo for sure.
Alex’s bowl of Shoyu Ramen ($13.50) held all the same glory as hubby bear’s, less the chilli. Slurp. Munch. Slurp. Happy Alex.
So here’s the big moment, can a bear who isn’t a fan of ramen noodles, learn to fall in love with them? Can the Veg Shoyu Ramen ($13.00) win a spot in my heart? Oh! I’d love to say yes, but not quite. Maybe a spot near one of my left ribs, so close to my heart, but not quite on the mark. While the noodles were perfectly cooked, the ingredients fresh, and the broth tasty – ramen noodles just aren’t my thing. In saying all that, I ate it all. Maybe my ramen’s downfall was the miso-mayo’s fault? It stole my heart at cheesey roll.
Given Alex has eaten everything on this menu, we asked what the Cheesecake ($9.00) was like, and he gave a little smile and said “It’s worth trying”. Curious at smirky remark, we ordered and understood totally what he meant. The green tea cheesecake was definitely very good, it had a very nice flavour…but boy oh boy! How dense and thick can a cake be? Massive! Thank goodness for the super-yummy black sesame ice cream, it helped loosen up the slow-moving bits of cheesecake down our throats!
Chuffed with his desert (as no obstacles of dense cheesecake had to be manoeuvred), Alex had just the Black Sesame Ice Cream ($5.00). The taste isn’t easy to describe, but it’s so very worth having! From my photos it does look like you’re eating big blobs of grey Play-Doh, but trust us – you aren’t! It’s creamy, sweet and a great finish to the meal!
Overall? Alex was right, we had to go. This place has some seriously awesome food that we will be going back for soon. Granted, I will probably just order a bowl of miso-mayo and a spoon, but hey – whatever makes you happy, right? 😉 It’s worth a trip. Go!
Address: 333 High Street, Northcote VIC 3070
Tip! Book if you have a party of 4 or more. This isn’t a big space, so you don’t want to be disappointed. The miso-mayo is waiting for you.