12 May 2016
Salaryman in Surry Hills sits comfortably outside the classification of either Ramen Bar or Izakaya…
So comfortable in fact that they’ve started making up a few of their own rules about what’s allowed to be done to a bowl of ramen. Like adding bucketloads of cream for instance. Ohh yeah! The result is an extravagantly more-ish bowl that is jam packed with flavour.
On our night we manage to nab one of the limited bowls of ‘Live Marron Mazemen’. It comes with a fragrant crayfish broth and loads of the aforementioned cream, making me want to drink it straight from the bowl. The noodles are bouncy, just how I like them. There’s a soft boiled quail egg for that food porn effect and the rockstar of this dish – a wood grilled Marron.
This is the kind of place that you can spend an evening in and not feel like you’ve missed out on anything. It’s a little bit bar/restaurant/club in one. Not that that there’s blaring loud music being pumped through the place, but the blue light under the bar and along some the awning have a certain disco effect.
There’s a good buzz with an open kitchen and seats overlooking the kitchen if you’re lucky enough to snag one of those. Or sit by the bar and chat to the charming and very capable bar staff. Most importantly – this place, all the disco instalments aside, is still all about the food.
Live Marron Mazemen $25/$39 Half/Whole Marron
As we’ve walked in tonight without making a reservation, we get the very last spots by the bar. Perfect, it’s Friday and I’m thirsty! After a glass of bubbles to kick start the evening our bar tender allows us to taste test a little of the Argentinian Torrontes we’re keen on devouring with our meal tonight.
Our starter is a Honey Bug Nigiri, covered with its tiny shell, looking rather spooky in the blue under our bar. It looks very sweet and goes down in one bite. Rather easily I might add.
Our clubby seats by the bar
Disco bug tails
Honey Bug Nigiri $15
My request to move to some seats that have become available by the kitchen bar is received with a big smile and a sincere ‘Of course! No problem!’, by the accommodating hostess. I’m not a fan of making a fuss on a busy service night, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
The kitchen delivers a prawn toast Okonomiyaki which tastes much like you would expect an Okonomiyaki to taste like with some added crunch. It’s perfectly tasty, but there’s definitely more exciting things on the menu here. Like the amazingly tender Octopus with snow peas and schicimi peppers. Delivered straight from the chargrill, it’s by far one of the best Octopus dishes I’ve had in Sydney. We finish with our bowl of ramen which is a pretty solid end to a good night out.
Prawn Toast Okonomiyaki $16
Seats by kitchen bar – Priceless!
Octopus from the Char $24
All in all, these guys are kicking big goals. Friendly staff with great knowledge of the menu, good fun atmosphere without bearing overbearing and as it should be – the food is first and foremost the focus which definitely shows. And on top of that it comes at a pretty decent price in the Sydney restaurant scene at just on $75/head.
I’ll be back for some more of your ramen, Salaryman. Only next time, I’m bringing a straw!
The short and sweet:
THE GOOD BITS: Great staff, buzzy atmosphere, seats overlooking the kitchen, fun menu
THE NOT SO GOOD BITS: I’m not a huge fan of blue light which dominates the bar and entrance area, but it made for some fun photos
STANDOUT DISH: The Ramen bowl, Chargrilled Octopus
COST PER HEAD: $76 for An aperitif, 4 dishes, bottle of wine
Location: 52-54 Albion Street, Surry Hills