Tell 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.
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.
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