I thought I was ready to tell you about the most amazing Joburg ramen experience after my first visit to Great Eastern Food Bar, above Service Station in Melville, procrastination got the better of me once again though, and I found myself back there before I got around to posting about it, which is fortunate because my second experience was far from enjoyable. Last night I went back, because best of three decides anything in life, and like an addict I’ve been hankering for a repeat of my first high. I now feel confident enough to tell you what to spend your hard earned cash on.
As I said I’ve been three times, all there times with the girlfriend, and all three times we stuck to pretty much the same thing. Bottle of wine, two shared starters, two bowls ramen. You’re looking at about R500 for this option, which isn’t cheap, but it’s damn well worth it.
Get the bottle rather than the glasses, because it’s R50 a glass, R130 a bottle. Share the starters because they’re fucking delicious and you’ll want to sample as much as you can while still leaving room for substantial ramen.
You can’t go wrong with the trout tacos, in fact, the flavour is so good I could have them for dessert. The menu changes weekly, parts of it at least, but I can safely say you won’t go wrong with any of the dumpling options – I’ve had them all, and the shiitake mushroom steamed buns literally explode with falvour. The buns come in portions of two, if you’re nice to the waitron, you can have one of each, cut them in half and each get a taste of both options.
Let’s get to the ramen though, because that’s why you’re here. The first I had, I can’t remember the name of it, looked like this.
The second, and third (the girlfriend and I shared), were, if I’m honest, not enjoyable at all. I had the scallop option, which was covered, and I mean covered, in raw garlic and ginger, which I usually love, but it was far too overwhelming, and the dish is more of a noodle dish than a brothy delight – which in all fairness I was warned about.
We spoke to the owner and chef about them last night and were told those were his summer options – he constantly changes the ramen options, which is why I haven’t seen the same ones on offer the last three times I’ve been, and also why I’m being useless and can’t remember any of the names.
That doesn’t matter though, because from now on I’ll be discussing the ramen dish with him before ordering. Besides the second less enjoyable experience, we’ve actually ordered off menu each time – a great benefit of the owner being the chef, he’s incredibly accommodating. Disclaimer: we were there when it was quiet each time, I wouldn’t go in ordering off-menu when the place is rammed.
We told him about our first dish, the one we kept coming back for, and he whipped together a hybrid dish he calls Shiro ramen, an untraditional mix of two styles Shōyu and Shio, and the previous two dishes were forgotten. I ate until I couldn’t move, and then I just about lifted the bowl to my mouth.
I can’t tell you about the dessert, because I’ve not been able to fit it in. Go for the fish tacos though, and for the Shiro ramen, because it’s one of the best noodle dishes I’ve had in Joburg.
Bamboo Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville
011 482 2910