While Melbourne steadily earns its “international city” status, it follows that the number of 24-hour dining options (that don’t involve glowing golden arches or snappy neon strap lines) is growing. From Vietnamese snacks and bowls of broth at Twenty Pho Seven to falafel salad and black pudding sandwiches at The Butcher’s Diner, the range of quality Melbourne eating options open long after the sun sets is expanding, and they’re even ideal beyond the need to mop up those last three Negronis.
It’s a mixed bag at any time of the day or night, from shoppers, suits and students to ramen fiends and those with booze munchies.
A hop, skip and jump across the road from Heartbreaker – the CBD’s closest approximation to a dive bar – you’ll find queues of people waiting patiently to score a seat at Russel Street’s Shujinko. It’s a mixed bag at any time of the day or night, from shoppers, suits and students to ramen fiends and those with booze munchies. And while some dining establishments have shied away from the late-night crowd for fear of the additional challenges that come with an excess of good drinks and good times, owner Kevin Pak has gone all in with the commitment to serving people quality eats at any time of the day.
As a result, the vibe is as friendly and buzzy as the broth is hearty, and everyone sits happily side by side, bonded over their shared love of toothsome noodles, tender char siu and, of course, the joy of the slurp. “[It felt like there was a] lack of choices for late night snacks in Melbourne and we saw opportunity in it. We wanted to focus a lot on the ambience and experience, from interior design, background music, customer service and menu, that customers could feel like being in a ramen bar in Japan,” says Jacky Liang, Shujinko’s operations manager.
Start by sharing a plate of gyoza or takoyaki, the former filled with juicy pork and wrapped in crispy-chewy pastry, and the latter, AKA “occy balls”, comprised of tender octopus tentacles suspended in a light sphere of fried batter, dressed in squiggles of kewpie mayo, Bulldog barbecue sauce and ribbons of waving bonito flakes.
Shujinko’s signature tonkotsu stock is a porky, 12-hour-in-the-making, stand-your-chopsticks-up broth, guaranteed to bring you back to life no matter what state you’re in. “We make our own ramen fresh daily in the shop. Our soup base is known as Tokyo-style, which is a little different from other ramen restaurants,” adds Liang.
True to Melbourne form, there’s even a black ramen, seasoned with a proprietary blend of blackened shellfish powder, which adds even more depth and dimension to the broth. There’s also a classic dry-style tsukemen and summer seasonal hiyashi chuka cold noodles. Thanks to Shujinko, the city’s universal love of soup noodles can be enjoyed at the universal time of "whenever I damn well want".
225 Russell St, Melbourne VIC
Open 24 hours/7 days
(03) 9654 0989
The essence of udon soup is a delicately flavoured dashi broth with chewy, slippery noodles.
Noodles are a quintessential ingredient in Japanese cuisine and during the country’s hot and humid summers, steaming bowls of noodles are swapped for cold noodle dishes with dipping sauces. Here, a dashi sauce is poured over cold noodles and topped with fresh ingredients.