Slurpfest - a series of dinners featuring never-before-seen bowls of ramen - is a term that will be music to the ears of Sydney noodle soup enthusiasts. Kicking off on 20 August, the likes of Chaco Bar, Gumshara and other notable noodle purveyors will treat punters to exclusive creations from their little black books.
Rising Sun Workshop chef and co-owner Nick Smith came up with Slurpfest to create a testing ground for chefs and punters to explore what lies beyond the five or six broths offered on most Sydney menus.
"Ramen is comparatively free-wheeling for Japanese cuisine," he says. "It changes according to climate, local taste and, of course, people's own interpretations within each region."
A self-taught ramen chef with no formal ties to Japan, Smith describes himself as the elephant in the room: a white guy who read a lot about ramen, joined the dots and made his own style along the way. Rising Sun changes the ramens on its dinner menu fortnightly, while the breakfast version has become a firm favourite at the GT offices.
Rising Sun Workshop's breakfast ramen.
In starting Slurpfest, Smith wants to lift the lid on each chef's process, and raise the profile of the people behind Sydney's ramen scene.
"Everyone's interested in ramen right now and talking about it but not the chefs. And that's so different to working in other restaurants," he says.
Inspired by New York's Ramen Lab - a similar concept that runs year-round - he approached the chefs he believes are doing Sydney's best bowls and gave them carte blanche to experiment.
While most details are still under wraps, Mori Higashida of Gumshara fame will kick off the series with a meatier, more fortified take on the traditional tonkotsu, while Harunobu Inukai of Tarafuku Ramen - an unofficial Iron Chef with Michelin experience under his belt - will go suitably high-end with a truffle-scented broth. Smith is working on sides that complement each soup; tostadas topped with ceviche and danmuji, say, or a simple dish of lightly pickled radishes.
Rising Sun Workshop's excellent drinks list will be also be on show, covering all bases with craft tinnies, minimal-intervention wines and cocktails like the sake-spiked Sakura Martini.
Time to get slurping.
Slurpfest, 20 August-24 September, 6pm or 8pm sitting, Rising Sun Workshop, 1c Whateley St, Newtown, NSW. $20 for ramen, sides and drinks additional. Tickets available online.