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All posts for the month March, 2015

Hakata Ikkousha 博多一幸舎

Published March 15, 2015 by piggie

Ikkousha_red_ramenStrictly speaking, this ain’t the first time I try Ikkousha, I last visited them when they were still with Ramen Champion, and now that they started their own branches, it ain’t appropriate if I park this review under Ramen Champion again.

Alright, I love ramen, but the price of ramen here ain’t cheap. It’s such spectacular 1-for-1 promotion I’m looking out for to answer my on-off appetite for Japanese food addiction. And Ikkousha deserves a re-visit.

WP_000197-condimentsFor a start, I prefer tonkotsu broth over Hokkaido’s varieties (although I do love Hokkaido scallop in my bowl of noodle), and I really love these thin noodle which doesn’t get soggy too easily. This way, I can appreciate my noodle in a leisure pace without appearing to be rushing somewhere. Ikkousha seems to have copied Keisuke Takeda very well, they started offering “free-flow” hard boiled eggs although I only found 4 per table (Well, health conscious patrons ought not to eat too much anyway), and they also let patrons select their preference such as spring onions, noodle texture, broth taste, and chargeable toppings. Beside these, Ikkousha also offers a wide range of condiments such as salt, black pepper, sesame seed, rice seasoning, gyoza sauce vinegar, spicy takana, ginger, ramen sauce salty, and garlic. In other words, you have a great hand to customise your favourite taste. This is in stark contrast to when they were used to be at Ramen Champion’s Bugis+ outlet & Changi Airport T3 outlet (or are they still there?).

I have to mention the rice seasoning, although I did not order any rice entry during my visit, I actually first tried these in Japan a month ago, in Hakata to be exact, but not at Ikkousha’s outlet there. I don’t know what’s its actual name (oh, now I got it, it’s call Furikake), it is a mixture of bonito flakes, seaweed, sesame, and some even include tea powder, it’s very appetising and certainly brings up the taste of plain rice. You may find these in major Japanese supermarket (such as Meida-ya) but not Daiso.

Right, let’s get back to the noodle!

Hakata Ikkousha declares every 15th day of a month as “Ikkousha Day” when they will offer one order from their menu or sometime a special item. Why 15th? Because Ik-kou sounds like Japanese pronunciation of one-five (ichi-go). Today, that offer item is their Red Tonkotsu Ramen.

Red Tonkotsu Ramen, $13.50++

Red Tonkotsu Ramen, $13.50++

I opted normal stiffness for my noodle with spring onion and a broth with Japanese taste. To be honest, I couldn’t distinguish its taste from a normal red broth, both tasted equally spicy for me. And after a long lapse since my previous visit, I couldn’t relate this to their other spicy order, the God Fire. My bowl of noodle comprised of two thin pieces of charshu (which thankfully retained a good level of tenderness), negi, black fungus, I threw in two hard boiled eggs and some takana (not shown in picture), and the overall taste was rather flavourful.

Just to share a little finding while I was in Fukuoka (Hakata), I grabbed a map from Hakata train station, found Ikkousha and Ichiran ramen indicated all over the map. Oh, I thought Ikkousha only have one outlet in Hakata, I didn’t expect they have such presence back home. Even some Hong Kong and Taiwan foodies came to know about Ikkousha too (Last I heard Ikkousha does not have outlets in those region)!

Look out for their promotion on their Facebook page if interested:

https://www.facebook.com/hakataikkousha.singapore

 

Menya Sanji 麺家三士

Published March 10, 2015 by piggie

SanjiTell me folks, how would you interpret “3-FOR-1 RAMEN”? Three bowls for the price of one? Sounds too good to be true? It ain’t true, and I found out the hard way, it’s their marketing gimmick and I ended up paying more than what I expected to.

They actually meant “Buy 3 get 4th free”. I ended up with an extra bowl of ramen! I wonder whether it’s down to their poor English or they set out to deceive, but I’m incline towards the later. I’ll explain. By now, I’m pretty sure more people would have sounded off such discrepancy to them, and they should have already realised the misleading promotion and taken it down, yet they demonstrated no remorse in not doing so, or at least, amend their wordings.

I came to know about Menya Sanji through an established food blogger, who gave them a positive review. Now to sidetrack a little, positive only means ‘Pass’, it’s by no means full mark. Do we agree to agree on that? You’ll have to, because when Sanji’s competitor opened a new franchise at the other corner of Orchid Hotel, the gentleman was won over. LOL!

Anyway, since then, I had been waiting for promotion, and Sanji occasionally having “buy 1 get 1 free” but somehow, I always missed that. Until they opened a franchise at Clifford Center, I finally had the chance to try it. However, right after I did that, I decided not to blog about it, not worth the effort despite an attractive price of $5.90 nett. It’s worse than just mediocre, it’s about the worst ramen I ever tried. Just one small piece of charshu, miserable broth, bean sprouts, nothing else (ok, maybe some leek and bean sprouts). Though I quite anticipated the portion of noodle to be lesser than their conventional bowl at Orchid Hotel, I ain’t complaining about that for such price. But the other factors gave me a bad first impression. I expected a smaller portion, fine. But on top of that, it severely lacks ingredients. I’d rather go back to our own conventional noodle which tastes so much better for about half that price.

So, when I came across this “3-For-1 Ramen” promotion, I decided to ‘bury the hatchet’ and try it from their main outlet at Orchid Hotel. And then I encountered the unpleasant experience above. OK, I’ll be objective, and try my best not to be biased, but I’m unlikely to re-visit, not just because I felt cheated, but the gulf in quality brings a big question mark over their consistency and sincerity, if they possess any.

Black Sesami Ramen, $10.50++

Black Sesami Ramen, $10.50++

The main reason why I didn’t walk off upon finding out about the price gimmick was because of its price. It’s still marginally cheaper than Tonkotsu King a few stones down the road, besides, I had tried that anyway. At the end, I would say it’s worth what I paid for.

I had a Black Sesami Ramen, and I actually quite like the fragrance of it, much to the fact that I love black sesami anyway, not so much on their broth, which I read are prepared using pig head instead of pig bones (however, their website was offering contradicting information). I found a big piece of charshu in my bowl which has the texture of one thick piece of ham, leek, and rather springy noodle. I guess for $10.50++, it’s pretty decent.

Gyokai Leek Ramen, $10.50++

Gyokai Leek Ramen, $10.50++

Broth aside, I probably love this one more! They gave quite reasonable amount of bonito flakes along with leek, dried sakura shrimps, and bean sprouts, though no charshu. As a side note, on the table, there’s also bonito powder provided to give that extra kick for bonito lovers, that’s apart from the takana (Japanese pickles), which they also provided along with the bonito powder.

Now, come back to some claims from Sanji which I put a very big question mark…

From Kagoshima they might be, but if I understand correctly, they are now based in Yokohama (Kanagawa), no longer has link with Kagoshima. They claimed their broth was made in Japan before shipping over and reboil, do you know how troublesome to ship all the way from Kagoshima? Firstly, there’s no direct flight, and although it’s logistically possible, but the cost efficiency can hardly be justified, not to mention if they are to prepare so many different broth (seafood, chicken, pork). I may be wrong, but the only sensible explanation is, I suspect they are probably using broth essence (ie powder), just like what you are getting from instant noodle. But from Yokohama, there’s still a slim chance.

Menya Sanji projected a misleading image that their ramen is Kagoshima style, but what exactly is Kagoshima style? And people, do you know what Kagoshima is famous for? I’ll tell you, it’s Kurobuta pork, Jidori chicken (Satsuma-Dori), Radish, Sweet Potato, Green Tea, and Oranges. So in Kagoshima, ramen vendors are very proud of using these ingredients, either directly in a bowl of ramen or as beverages, pickles, desserts. But the very primary criteria, it’s almost certain every ramen vendor there will use the locally produced Kurobuta, it’s the best one can find in Japan, and probably the whole world. Folks, you are seeing almost none of these here! By the way, I just came back from Kagoshima a month ago, and there was a ramen competition ongoing in Feb in Kagoshima, there’s no sign of Menya Sanji.

OK, Menya Sanji’s ramen tastes above average, but when I go for ramen, I’m also paying for their sincerity. Lacking that, I’m only willing to pay food court’s prices. My two visit has greatly disappointed me, I’m unlikely to return.

Menya Sanji 麺家三士
1 Tras Link #01-14, Orchid Hotel
Tel: 66048891
http://sanji.frp.sg/home.html