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Ramen Nagi

Published July 26, 2020 by piggie

Before I begin sharing my Ramen Nagi experience here, I’m sure many fellow local Singaporeans aren’t sure how to pronounce their name correctly in Mandarin. The word “凪” does not share the same pronunciation as “风”, instead the actual mandarin pronunciation should be the same as “止”. It is more of a Japanese Kanji which has the meaning of the wind stops.

Ramen Nagi set foot on Singapore shore in Oct 2017 with much fanfare and long queue. I have been patiently awaiting for the commotion to die down and for their subsequent promotion, but the latter was never to come. After all, why should a popular ramen eatery resort to such promotion when their business is blooming?

Chef IKUTA Satoshi was not crowned the champion of Tokyo Ramen of the Year 2012 without a reason amidst Tokyo’s extremely vibrant ramen industry, and oh, he did it for 3 consecutive years too! On record, he was the first chef who served a different ramen everyday for 365 days (eh? including major Japanese holiday too? orz…), kudos to his creativity and as such, one can expect stepping into one of his ramen franchise and anticipating to be fascinated. It is, I believe, such creativity that evolved Japanese ramen from their Chinese origin in the first place, and I’m certainly excited getting bewildered on what kind of ramen I can get without prior reading review from other patrons.

Black King, $15.90++

We were given an order sheet upon seated, and I had settled for their Black King ramen, carefully selecting a different broth from my dining companion just so we can taste the different broth.

Ramen Nagi also allow patrons to choose their preference of the broth, noodle, garlic, vegetables, pork etc. Yes, you can choose not to include charshu, or change it to pork belly. In my case, I’m wondering how would the chef recommendation turn out to be, so I selected omakase.

My ramen comprised of pork belly, green onion, black fungus, and thin noodle. Come to think of it, I wonder whether the chef truly select based on his recommendation or depending on what is more readily available? And will there be a chance whether I could have ended up with no charshu nor pork belly at all?

Nevertheless, my broth also came with a condiment ball of minced pork, black sesame, and special Nagi spices, which truly takes the black garlic and squid ink broth up a few notches. I have tried black garlic broth ramen at another famous establishment locally before, I have to say, that was a pretty disappointing experience, with the flavour and excitement gone half way through the meal, and it ended up rather bland and soulless. Good thing Ramen Nagi didn’t disappoint, the aroma of the condiment serves the noodle and broth well. As for the pork belly, I have to confess, I find it a little too fatty to my liking, but my dining partner loves that anyway. I would probably have preferred the charshu instead. As for the noodle, it is as usually chewy.

Red King, $15.90++

No prize guessing, red means hot. To be honest, I was quite puzzled why my dining partner chosen this when I am the one obviously having a better tolerance towards spiciness. Well, I know she’s perhaps a little reluctant to try the black garlic flavour because she has a distaste for it, but out of the 4 main ramen on Ramen Nagi’s menu, she could also have chosen the basic Original Butao King ($13.90++), or the olive-inspired Green King ($15.90++) instead (At time of visit, Ramen Nagi’s more fanciful Veggie King series ramen were not available).

The Red King came with a ball of miso-infused minced pork in special Nagi spices, as if the broth itself ain’t hot enough, these really brought out the fire in the broth! And, as she also selected chef’s recommendation, she got pork belly as well as spring onion (or the option of charshu and cabbage), black fungus, and Kyushu-styled thin noodle too. My dining partner put aside some of the miso ball, never mind the minced pork inside, for otherwise the noodle might be too hot for her to handle. I have heard of ramen which plays to the tune of spicy challenge, but really, when the hotness reaches a certain level, it’s no longer about enjoying the taste anymore, it becomes a test for your endurance level. Bottom line, I feel Red King is about hotness, even for someone who loves spicy food, I feel the broth, made up of garlic, chilli oil, and cayenne pepper, may be excessively overpowering and thus masking some of the food taste.

Kanshoku Ramen Bar

Published July 19, 2020 by piggie

Prior to me trying truffle ramen at Suparakki Ramen, I have actually been eyeing Kanshoku Ramen (Bar) for sometime. But them not having any promotion was the reason why I didn’t try them earlier, until today.

For a conventional Tonkotsu or Shoyu ramen that starts at $13.90, it has better demonstrate some extraordinary edges for it to be worthwhile. But really, what propelled Kanshoku Ramen to much fanfare cannot be further from their Truffle Ramen, be it dry or in broth. Kanshoku Ramen is actually a local set up since 2014, so that takes away some authenticity and have to be complemented with creativity. I guess that’s how their Truffle Ramen came about.

So, me and my dining partner went in with only one thing in mind, their truffle ramen, one dry and one broth, so as to try and experience the best of both world in one sitting.

Truffle Broth Ramen, $17.90++

This is their most expensive ramen on the menu, needless to say, it has to be distinctive. Served with shaved Italian truffle, truffle pate, and blended with truffle oil, the broth is simply aromatic, didn’t quite overpower the nature of the Tonkotsu broth, but adding a finest that quite make this the king of all broth. Truffle, after all, isn’t being known as one of world’s three best ingredients without a reason. This is really not a Japanese thing, but the epitome of Europe’s finest delicacy easily overshadow the Japanese signature in this ramen, then again, let’s remember, that Japanese cuisines have a hugh influence from the continental, and they are very efficient in transforming an imported cuisine to make it their own, and better it in many ways.

To be honest, the couple thin slices of truffles are too little to whet my appetite, but then again, to ask for more is synonymous to asking them to increase the price. Other than that, there are two small, thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth charshu, cabbages, sesame, in addition to what I had mentioned in the above paragraph. Their noodle is my favourite Hakata-styled, thin and chewy, if anything, I find its quantity too little comparing to conventional ramen vendors.

Truffle Ramen, $16.90++

For me, this is really special! Slices of shaved Italian truffle, truffle pate, and truffle oil truly spice up the chewy Hakata-styled thin noodle, and because it doesn’t come with broth, I feel the noodle is able to absorb a gigantic portion of truffle flavour, and with the sous vide egg providing a magical touch, the result is absolutely spellbinding! Naturally, I couldn’t help comparing with Suparakki Ramen’s own Truffle Ramen, but this one really brings it up a few notches. It’s less oily, tastier, and the torched charshu possess that added savoury missing from the broth version, complement the noodle magnificently.

In fact, after this, me and my dining partner had our coffee and fries elsewhere, and the remaining truffle aroma still lingering with the fries so well, that we couldn’t help suspecting the fries were sprinkled with truffle oil too!

添好運

Published July 13, 2020 by piggie

在新加坡的美食登入米其林殿堂之前,世界上最便宜的米其林美食當屬香港,就是港式點心餐廳《添好運》。那時,添好運還未曾涉足新加坡。而米其林的游戲規則是,所頒發的獎勵是不能和其他分店共享的,也就是説,香港港鉄站的添好運不能沾深水埔添好運米其林1星的光環。我曾經試過深水埔的添好運,當時只覺得口感中上,價錢倒算得上實惠。那時心想,要是這樣也能摘得米其林1星的話,那我要對米其林的遴選標準質疑了,尤其是我覺得香港稻香超級漁港的點心更爲出色。後來添好運於2013年開始涉足海外,新加坡市場就是其擴張的第一步,剛開幕時掀起的旋風讓饕客甘心排隊3小時捧場,可見其受歡迎程度不止於香港。

我不是2013年的跟風者,第一次在新加坡吃大概還是2018年的事,當時還是朋友邀請的,那時早已經沒有排隊數小時的瘋狂。而這篇食評則是2020年中嘗試的,也不是在其獅城大廈的旗艦店,若不是想帶媽媽試試,或許也不會前來。

酥皮焗叉燒包,$6.80++

第一次來添好運的話,務必嘗試其鎮山之寶–酥皮焗叉燒包。我第一次在香港嘗試時只覺得一般,但是這回感覺有改善,醬汁更爲鮮甜,更能襯托外酥内軟的麵包,也正由於這相得益彰的口感,為添好運贏得不少口碑。還記得其獅城大廈旗艦店剛開業時,店家還限定酥皮焗叉燒包的外賣數量,以確保堂食的顧客有機會嘗試,當時的情況真不知該說是瘋狂還是誇張,也許該歸功於米其林指南剛染指新加坡的效應吧!

豉汁蒸肉排芋頭,$5.50++

其實,這名稱簡稱排骨就夠了。但是你知道的,一道菜色若是有個意氣風發的名堂,定然能爲其生色不少。言下之意,就是説除了排骨之外,其他也沒什麽值得贊揚的。這道菜是媽媽點的,雖然媽媽厨藝出色,但不知爲何她點菜的眼光總是那麽教人大失所望。有一回在杭州,她找的一家餐館,讓我吃了畢生最難忘、最難吃的一餐後,之後很長一段時間我都自己點餐了。

言歸正傳,媽媽很拿手蒸排骨,她蒸的排骨色香味俱全,相比之下,就覺得添好運的排骨平平無奇。首先,我很納悶這道菜爲什麽要加芋頭?芋頭原本無味,而不知是不是爲了響應吃得健康,添好運的豉油偏淡,總覺得芋頭和排骨根本格格不入。除了肉質還算有些鮮甜,實質上在新加坡隨便找一家點心店,其口感大概都勝過添好運的排骨。

鮮蝦水餃湯,$6.80++

港式水餃是出了名的,所以我也點了這道水餃湯讓媽媽嘗試。添好運的水餃餡料除了鮮蝦之外,還有竹筍、黑木耳等,口感爽口扎實,非常受用!但是若要挑剔的話,我嫌那湯頭平淡。不過這不僅是添好運的因素,基本上大多數港澳的面家都如此。新馬一帶的水餃沒那麽出色,倒是湯頭略勝一籌。

鮮蝦燒賣皇,$5.00++

港式點心一般上少不了水餃和燒賣,而添好運的燒賣除了賣相佳,口感也著實不錯,内餡混合了豬肉和蝦肉,非常彈牙美味,再加上枸紀子點綴,賣相更上一層樓!

美味燜鮮竹卷,$6.00++

單看圖片,很容易認爲這和一般的炸竹卷類似,其實口感南轅北轍,其重點在於“燜”字,因此口感絲毫不會酥脆。我知道其他點心餐館絕大部分都是將鮮竹卷拿來炸,强調其酥脆口感,但是沒想到添好運炸後再用燜的方式居然還能帶出另一種風情,再加上内餡鮮嫩的豬肉和蝦肉,在獨特醬汁的帶味下,益發帶出其色彩。

鮮菇蒸腸粉,$5.50++

這又是另一道媽媽叫的失敗之作。如果是我叫的話,我大概會選擇叉燒或鮮蝦内餡。不知道媽媽是爲了替我省錢還是不想吃那麽多肉,總之這道腸粉很可惜,完全不入味,即便沾了很多豉油,口感還是非常平淡,不禁讓我再次懷疑,是不是因爲健康因素而使用了少鹽豉油?有一點媽媽和我都認同的,就是換做使用冬菇口感絕對會更好。

香辣蝦仁炒蘿蔔糕,$8.80++

添好運的蘿蔔糕我在香港吃過,口感只是一般。但這道香辣蝦仁炒蘿蔔糕卻很特別,加入了芹菜、豆芽、青葱、和炒蛋,整個口感就起了翻天覆地的變化,真的色香味俱全,是我所吃過的最好吃的白蘿蔔糕之一。可惜這道菜色僅在今年6月中旬推出2個月,之後還有沒有機會嘗試就看緣分了。