East Meets West and Back Again: Ramen Kan and Williams-Sonoma

Back in the days before Stately Prick Manor there was Shitty Prick High-Rise and home was a crummy corner unit of glass, plasterboard, and uncleanable carpet half-way up a very dodgy development with occasionally working lifts  deep in the heart of Bondi Junction. Upstairs lived a DJ who’d never heard of headphones; the bedroom looked down over a service alley shared with a club whose empties would be poured out for recycling every night around 3. Good times.

There were consolations. Around the block was a Japanese joint, Ramen Kan, which served up all sorts of goodies and noodles and bento boxes and the like: cheap, cheerful, and excellent restorative dining for one. Five years later the place is still there, and with a few free Saturday afternoon hours to kill up the Jungo – the balance spent at the new Williams-Sonoma – it was time for a return visit.

But would it still be as good?

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Interesting question. Without a doubt, what was served up was  a nice bowl of soup. Good, but not great, and certainly not as fantastic as remembered. The Prick’s tan tan ramen was spicy, in fact mostly heat, pleasantly so. But the broth wasn’t as silky and unctuous as it should have been, and the noodles were a bit too obviously out of the packet for the Prick’s liking. Nor was there a helluva lot of meat. Oh well.

The memory plays funny tricks, and food memories can be funniest of all. Things from the past can be built up to more than they were (think Proust), while subsequent experience moves the mental goalposts. Would the meal have been less anticipated had Ramen Kan not been a little bright spot during an otherwise tricky time? Would it have tasted better had Ippudo not opened up and become a regular haunt over the past several months? All up, it’s probably a wash, though as Bondi Junction eateries go, it’s something to which the locals should continue to hold fast.

In any case, the main event for the day was the new Williams-Sonoma, which along with Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, and something called West Elm, have brought a little bit of American bourgeois prosperity to the local pedestrian mall. (Given that there’s not much bourgeois prosperity left in America, one supposes it had to go somewhere, so why not Sydney?)

It’s been years since the Prick’s had a wander up that particular strip; those who know it will note that much is still the same despite the billion-dollar Westfield over the road. From the Irish backpackers to the dollar boutiques to the cops standing over some grumpy-looking derro on a bench trying to figure out if he’s worth their trouble, almost nothing has changed.

And the Prick was very, very good indeed, did not load up on sets of All-Clad, and walked out with nothing more extravagant than a few jars of curing salt (BACON!) and some nice nesting bowls. There’s a good selection of product, lots of toys and gadgets, and they don’t seem game enough to triple their prices for the Australian market like some other retailers.

But can someone explain what the hell this is all about!?

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Ramen-Kan on Urbanspoon

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14 Responses to East Meets West and Back Again: Ramen Kan and Williams-Sonoma

  1. Mike Farrell says:

    OMG Prick – I’ve heard of edible undies, flavoured condoms and lube – but this takes the cake !!!! God bless America (or Japan). What a novel idea !!!!!!!

  2. It’s not just any old rimming sugar, either. It’s artisanal rimming sugar.

    So there ya go.

  3. youcancallmemeyer says:

    Do they put it in a brown paper bag when you’ve paid for it?

  4. Steve at the Pub says:

    I hope y’all DO KNOW what that stuff is? Don’tcha?
    We use quite a bit of it here at my place, vanilla flavour is really good stuff.

  5. LOL @ JAPAN.

    But wow, never knew there was a Ramen-Kan at Bondi! Always thought the Central store was the only one…

  6. Deadman says:

    Rimming sugar, surely, is used for sweetening dates.

  7. Richard says:

    Still LOL at some of the comments.

    It’s one of life’s rules that things are never as good when you do it again. The longer the gap, the bigger the disappointment. Memories of great great food can become bigger and better as time passes. On the other hand, the providers can get lazy, they can sell to people who don’t understand, and so it goes. We’ve all had a few of those, I’m sure.

    My worst repeat was at a camping site in Italy many years ago. We’d driven from northern Germany towing a caravan over the alps. 1000km in about 18 hrs of driving. We were dead tired and very hungry when we got there and the cafe/restaurant did the world’s spag bol. Next year we drove down anticipating the brilliant meal. It was not as good. The same wines were rubbish. A total disappointment.

    It happens all the time.

    Never mind, there are always new experiences.

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