Gomi Boys may have begun as a pandemic project for chefs Ben Reardon and Ryan Maher, but the seeds for the ramen delivery service go back much further.
After making several trips to Japan and consuming many bowls of ramen – including one particularly special niboshi (dried fish) ramen in Shinjuku – the two were inspired to try to recreate their favourite styles at home.
“I bought a heap of ingredients and smuggled them back and we started playing around,” Reardon says.
After lots of trial and error, they settled on a few recipes they were happy with and launched their heat-and-eat ramen business, prepared and delivered out of a kitchen in North Melbourne. A little while later, they moved out of the warehouse and began doing pop-ups at Nasty’s in Thornbury.
Though Reardon and Maher had thoughts to scale, their space and equipment limitations didn’t allow it. But in a twist of fate, someone offered them a commercial noodle machine over Instagram.
“[It] kind of just dropped into our laps,” Maher says. “We were like, ‘Maybe we can actually do this on a larger scale.’”
So late last year, they settled into a permanent dine-in home on Sydney Road, the former site of Beatbox Kitchen. Fitted out with a long wooden bar, moody lighting and deep green walls with a custom mural by tattoo artist Ganji Bang, the shop is a far cry from its old life as a bright and sunny burger joint.
The menu emphasises minimal-waste cooking. It changes regularly according to season and availability, and most ingredients are utilised in various dishes for maximum use. For instance, the chicken used to make bone broth for the chicken shio (salt-flavoured) ramen is also used for the crispy chicken skins with peach and ponzu sauce.
“We render the chicken fat out of the skins,” says Maher. “Then they’re fried for 30 seconds until they go crispy.”
Other menu highlights include a vegan mushroom and ponzu-based ramen topped with charred bullhorn chilli, and variation on tsukemen – a style of ramen where the broth is served on the side for cold noodles to be dipped into – which is served here with hot dashi and pickled Port Philip Bay sardines.
Though the particulars of each bowl of ramen may change, one constant is the thin, wheat-based noodles, which the team age in linen towels overnight for the perfect moisture level and bouncy consistency.
“The linen absorbs some moisture and stops them from drying out completely,” Maher says. “They lose the stickiness but retain the chew.”
Ramen is obviously the focus here, but the drink selection (and particularly the cocktails) holds its own. Sharing ingredients with the kitchen, the menu includes Japanese-inspired spins on classic mixed drinks such as a whisky highball with saltbush, a shiso vodka Martini with black sesame, and an Old Fashioned with caramelised apricot and housemade eggplant treacle. The treacle is made by charring eggplants on the grill then wrapping them up to rest. Once they begin to release their liquid, it’s cooked down with mirin and soy sauce until it becomes thick, sweet and syrupy.
Beyond cocktails, there’s a range of predominantly Australian beers and wines. Despite Reardon’s smuggling incident, the team now aims to source local ingredients whenever it can.
Gomi Boys Ramen
692 Sydney Road, Brunswick
(03) 9191 0008
Wed & Thurs 4pm–9pm
Fri & Sat 4pm–10pm