Nao Japanese, Perth
Nao Japanese has always been one of me and my boyfriend’s favourite places to eat in Perth for a cheap and filling meal. We’ve had our fair share of ramen around Australia and internationally, but it wasn’t until we travelled to Japan in 2013 that we could compare Nao to their authentic ramen. And we are positive that we have found the best ramen in Perth (so far). Nao is a hugely popular restaurant where I constantly see queues forming outside, and securing a table can take at least 15-30 minutes during the busy periods. We’ve been a couple of times — a few times for lunch and a handful of times for dinner, and we’ve managed to get a table with an average waiting time of 10 minutes, so it’s best to go during the odd hours.
To us, when it comes to ramen, it all comes down to the broth. The saltiness and the fiery hotness of the broth that leaves your tastebuds burnt for a good number of days makes it all worthwhile. One of the best bits of ramen is choosing the delicious toppings that comes in a variety of choices, such as slices of pork, boiled egg, bamboo shoots, dried seaweed, corn (my favourite!), and loads more.
Nao is a fairly small restaurant, seating roughly about 25 customers at one time. Their menu can be confusing, but the first page explains the process fairly well. Basically, you choose the broth you want — shoyo (soy), miso (soy bean paste), shio (salty), and spicy (spicy miso). Next, you choose your noodles — white (plain egg noodles), green (spinach infused noodles, extra $0.50), and red (red chilli infused noodles, extra $0.50). The noodles all come with simple toppings — bean sprouts, spring onion, bamboo shoots, wakame (fresh seaweed), nori (dried seaweed), and a slice of chashu (sliced roast pork). You can also add extra toppings if you need something more. We usually get extra chashu ($3 for 4 slices), and pork spare ribs ($3.50).
They also offer their own popular ramen options, in which I usually choose the miso butter and corn ramen ($12). I chose this one on this occasion!
I had the Miso butter and corn ramen with plain egg noodles, and added extra chashu slices ($15). I always try to get extra pork ribs (one time I did and you get these big meaty pieces that is so juicy and tender), and this time (again) they had sold out in the ribs.
I love this broth the most because it’s so indulgent. The butter gives the both that delicious salty taste and the corn gives that chewy texture and pops of sweetness with every chew. The taste is authentic and true to the ramen in Japan. There is a bulk load of noodles in the broth which I always struggle to eat all of it. I found all the toppings in the broth, which is a nice surprise every time I found them — the woody bamboo shoots with so much flavour in them, the slimy but chewy wakabe for that subtle seaweed taste, and the thinly sliced chashu for the delicious meaty component, with the slithers of fat embedded in the sweet meat. I love, love, love this ramen, but I never can drink the broth because I’m so full by the end of it!
My boyfriend got the Miso butter and corn chashu ramen with extra spinach infused noodles (+$3), and added extra chashu slices (+$3) and chicken ($3 for 4 pieces) ($21.50). What he loves about ramen is the different toppings you can put in it to customise it. He also agreed that Nao’s broth is very similar to the ramen in Japan, which he believes is Nao’s strongest point. And that’s why Nao is so popular — it’s the closest thing to authentic Japanese ramen, without having to take a 10 hour flight.
Don’t be scared of the green noodles (spinach infused noodles). These noodles don’t have a strong spinach taste, but rather retains that green colour. I couldn’t find much difference between the green and white egg noodles, but the spinach infused noodles may give that extra healthy benefit. The chicken pieces were crazy tender and soft. As you can see, my boyfriend is a mad carnivore.
Nao also does tsukemen (dipping noodles), which is basically the same as ramen noodles but the noodles and the soup are separated. The noodles are cold, and the soup is warm, and as the name suggests, you “dip the noodles” into the soup. I’ve had this before in Japan but I prefer the hot ramen, essential for those winter days!
Also, Nao does an a la carte menu that includes takoyaki, rice based dishes, sushi, gyoza, and more. We’ve had the gyoza before which weren’t too bad either. They also have a small dessert menu, which we got green tea ice-cream the first time we went, but it wasn’t the best (the texture of it wasn’t as nice). We’ve stuck to the ramen noodles every time we’ve gone, which isn’t so bad because we always walk out with a full and happy belly!
Nao’s service is quite casual but very quick. Their turnaround is fast to accommodate the queues. Otherwise, they are very friendly and respectful to all their patrons, practiced in the Japanese culture.
We have yet tried every ramen in town but so far, Nao comes close to being the most authentic. Although ramen in Japan is priced at at least $10, Nao Ramen is worth every cent.
Address: 117 Murray St, Perth WA 6000
- Open six days a week, Monday to Thursday from 11:30am until 6pm with last order at 5:30pm, Friday from 11:30am until 9pm with last order at 8:30pm, and Sundays from 12pm until 5pm with last order at 4:30pm.
- I would recommend going during the odd hours, such as after the mad lunch time rush or go for an early dinner.
- Nao does not take any reservations.
- Not recommended for large groups (possibly maximum of four) as the restaurant is too small to accommodate large groups.