Ramen Kan, Haymarket

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Ramen Kan used to be one of my favour­ite places, with a kais­en don on their menu tick­ing all the boxes with its gen­er­ous cubes of sal­mon and tuna cov­er­ing a bed of well-vin­egared sushi rice drizzled with sweet soy sauce, all for a very reas­on­able price. Then after a pos­it­ive first exper­i­ence after their remod­el­ling, I star­ted get­ting bones in my fish and I ended up with a few sad cubes of sal­mon when they ‘ran out of tuna’ and didn’t replace the tuna with sal­mon. After these dis­ap­point­ing exper­i­ences, I steered clear of it for a while until N con­vinced me that per­haps the third time’s the charm.

There are new dishes on their menu, like this Tekiyaki Eggplant ($8.90), with battered cubes of egg­plant in ter­iyaki sauce, along with onions, asparagus and ren­kon chips. The bat­ter on the egg­plant is a major turn off for this dish — it’s not easy to bite through, and once bit­ten through a small piece egg­plant slips out and you’re left with the battered pouch with its slimy and chewy mouth­feel. It would have elev­ated the dish immensely to have these deep fried, or not battered at all. The asparagus stalks were very tough fibrous. The crispy ren­kon chips were the high­light for an egg­plant dish.

But! Their Takowasa ($8.90) is still deli­cious. N and I love the crunchy mouth­feel of raw octopus and the kick from the was­abi. Some Japanese res­taur­ants don’t have the crunch to their octopus, but Ramen Kan gets it right every time.

And of course, the Crab Cream Croquettes ($6.90). Four pieces come out pip­ing hot.

They’re best eaten when they’re pip­ing hot as you get the optim­al crunch from the panko coat­ing and the soft creamy innards. But they’re still good when they’ve cooled so you can exper­i­ence more of its creamy deli­cious­ness in each bite. Mmm!

The Kaisen Don is N and my favour­ite dish at Ramen Kan. Sushi rice topped with cubes of raw sal­mon and tuna then drizzled with a sweet soy sauce, this dish hits almost all the sushi spots. Unfortunately, the por­tion of the raw fish and the pri­cing are unfail­ingly inconsistent –

For one reas­on or anoth­er, the Kaisen Don from December 2015 ($11.90) nev­er made it to the blog. But this is the Kaisen Don that N and I fell in love with for the three years up to the end of 2015. The raw fish is shiny and fresh and most import­ant of all, piled so high you can barely make out the rice.

Fast for­ward to October 2016, and this is the sad state of affairs to which the Kaisen Don ($13.90) has been reduced. That’s a 2 price increase for a pile of choppy off-cuts. The fish and the rice tasted good — it’s hard to do it wrong — but the gen­er­os­ity that was its main draw card is gone.

They say third time’s the charm, and it is indeed, with the Kaisen Don ($12.90) return­ing to some­what of its former glory in February 2017. It’s still more expens­ive and with less fish than in December 2015, but I’m happy with this. This time, though, the rice was so pip­ing hot that it par­tially cooked the tuna (hence it’s light­er col­our). It still tasted good, though!

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Part of the remod­el at Ramen Kan saw bowls of con­di­ments and top­pings for ramen, which used to be brought in con­tain­ers to each indi­vidu­al table, now loc­ated in front of the counter.

I’d return to Ramen Kan as it does serve up decent Japanese food, but the qual­ity and value for money that defined Ramen Kan as a main­stay has diminished.

Ramen Kan is loc­ated at 90 Hay St, Haymarket NSW 2000.