Ramen

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Hokkaido Ramen Santouka らーめん山頭火

Published September 9, 2017 by piggie

It is not my first visit to Santouka, but since this is a new menu tasting invitation by JPassport, I would like to start a new post and segregate it from my previous visits. Nevertheless, like I always did, I reiterate my desire to faithfully express my opinion regardless whether it’s sponsored or not.

According to my correspondence with JPassport, my understanding is that me and my dining partner can each choose one main from their new menu. So we decided we would each order a different item and share among ourselves just so we can taste both.

But Santouka’s manager at their Clarke Quay Central branch was very generous and threw in their Toroniku Ramen as well. That means two of us gonna share 3 portion of ramen! I stare at my dining partner bewilderingly, but alas, I thought if their Roast Beef Ae Soba is just what it seems to be, then probably we can finish them all. No and Yes, allow me to elaborate shortly.

Special Iberico Tokusen Toroniku Ramen in Shio broth, $21++ (S)

Special Iberico Tokusen Toroniku Ramen was first served. Regular patrons to Santouka would already have known, that this is one of Santouka’s signature ramen, nothing new really. It features premium roasted pork cheek from Iberico pig, both attributes are considered premium in their respective categories, and hence reflected in the ramen’s price. Before I go on further on the charshu, let me briefly touch on the noodle first.

Santouka claimed to have tested many different types of noodles before settling on medium sized round noodles, which they found to have good flavour and aroma, most importantly blend well with their soup. The broth comes in 4 flavour options, namely Shoyu, Miso, Kara-Miso, and Shio. Santouka hails from Hokkaido, Asahikawa to be exact, from where Shoyu ramen is typical. However, it’s Shio ramen where Santouka really prowess. While typical Shio ramen presents a clear appearance, Santouka’s came a little creamy, and their broth is rich enough to infuse flavourful taste to the noodle as they claimed.

Japan ain’t really known for Iberico pork, but Kurobuta. The former are usually found in Iberian Peninsula (literally Spain and Portugal), and is considered rare in Japan. It’s worth noting that Iberico pork are usually cured for years and sold as ham (read Jamón ibérico), hence its hefty price tag, but these days you can probably get frozen Iberico pork from upmarket supermarkets or gourmet stores. Even if it’s not cured, its prices are still a few notches expensive than the Kurobuta, which is itself already considered a premium type of pork. And for every pig, regardless Iberico or any species, there’s only about 200-300g of pork cheek, which is relatively rare and probably the most tender meat you can get, that’s why even Santouka can only afford to serve them in limited quantity each day.

Santouka’s roasted Iberico pork cheek offers an adequate proportion of saltiness and sweetness, and to avoid its flavour being wash away by the broth, it was presented on a separate plate, allowing patrons to savour it in its best glamour.

Santouka Tantan Men, $15++

Santouka Tantan Men is a new addition on their revised menu launching soon on 18 Sep 2017 in collaboration with their anniversary here. Served in a Tonkotsu broth, and with respect to the amount of chilli oil present, it only offers a slight hint of spiciness reminiscing conventional Sichuan Tantan noodle. Santouka is obviously distancing themselves from replicating a direct Sichuan version, this makes sense, they aren’t a Chinese restaurant after all. They infused their broth with a strong sesame presence, which created a somewhat nutty flavour. And then instead of using charshu in a conventional ramen, they replaced it with minced meat in Miso paste, along with pickled veggie. Overall, this is rather appetising!

Roast Beef Ae-Soba, $17++

Hold on a second, did I just mention appetising? Wait till I try this!

For a start, I wonder what does Ae mean? I mean, I have tried Maze Soba, Yaki Soba… But Ae Soba (和え蕎麦)?? I couldn’t find an answer, but I guess it either means dry soba or self-made soba.

Anyway, the soba was presented somewhat like Yaki Soba (fried soba), except that the noodle wasn’t fried at all. I believe it was lightly rinsed and drained from the broth, and served dry along with veggies, poached egg, and of course, roast beef as its name suggests. The overall taste of this is somewhat like salad + noodle.

I understand that Santouka uses the same noodle they would use on their ramen, so actually, it’s not really soba noodle they are using. But they ain’t the only one, many other ramen restaurants here did likewise. Personally, I prefer that, because I don’t quite like the strong buckwheat texture in soba noodles to be honest, although I still eat them somewhat.

Looking at the picture alone, you would naturally guess the beef takes centre stage huh? In our humble opinion, no. The wonder of this noodle lies in the little jug in the background, or rather the dressing inside. It’s an interesting cohesion of sweetness, sourness, saltiness, and mild pungency all roll into one, exuding a brilliant taste that makes this noodle totally wonderful!

Unable to subdue our curiousity, we summon the manager for an ‘explanation’. She would proudly reveal the use of onion, Kikkoman sauce, wasabi paste, but that’s as far as she would go, the rest, I suppose, are ‘trade secret’. 😛

It has to be that good, that my dining companion, who usually hates onion, finished all the dressing onto the noodle.
The beef was served medium raw, and was quite tender. But I was wondering, why limit this noodle with beef? I think they could have gone with chicken, pork, and seafood as option too. Having said that, I must confess, the noodle was rather generous compare to what I saw from their menu. We struggled, but finish it because we already ate a bowl of ramen each before this, prompting the manager to comment we must have been very satisfied with our meal. True indeed!

Green Tea Ice Cream, $3++

After our meal, we felt as if we had buffet. But we top up with a Green Tea ice cream each so as not to leave the restaurant without paying anything. Their Green Tea Ice Cream although lack fragrance, offers a strong and pleasant Green Tea taste. I know the presentation looks bland, but guess that’s why Santouka will be repackaging this into something more eye-catching comes 18 Sep 2017.

Not available as yet, but definitely more appealing huh?

That concludes my visit on 07 Sep 2017, but do follow Santouka on JPassport for any forthcoming promotion!

Special thanks to JPassport for this tasting invitation.

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Menya Sakura 麺屋桜

Published March 22, 2017 by piggie

Chuka Soba Special, S$14.90++

Menya Sakura is yet another new ramen restaurant in the scene. In their grand opening special, they introduce a 3-day one-for-one promotion starting with this, Chuka Soba Special at S$14.90++ on Mon, 20 Mar 2017. They were offering Tonkotsu Ramen Special (S$13.90++) and Tonkotsu Tsukemen Special (S$18.90++) one-for-one promotion for the next two days respectively. I asked my dining companion on her choice and she settled on Chuka Soba Special on day 1. I didn’t voice any disagreement though I actually prefer trying their Tonkotsu Ramen.

Hailing from Nagoya by founder NAGATANI Hideto, my first impression was nothing spectacular given the fact that Nagoya is not a major ramen battleground when compare to the likes of Hokkaido and Kyushu, where pretty anywhere else are more inclined towards Shoyu-based ramen (actually, also the signature in Asahikawa, Hokkaido). However, when the name NAGANUMA Sho comes up, it’s a different ball game. Chef NAGANUMA was the former executive chef of Hide Yamamoto in Marina Bay Sands, and currently helming Menya Sakura. I’m really interested to see how can he brings out the difference in this highly competitive ramen market.

My personal preference has always been Tonkotsu, Miso, Shio, and Shoyu ramen in that order, preferable with a tint of spiciness. It doesn’t help when Soba is also my least favourite noodle, behind ramen and udon. I tried my best not to carry prejudice, but whatever little prejudice I have was completely wipe out the very moment the noodle was served, right before I even have a chance to take a look. Yes, I ain’t bragging, the broth fragrance just hit my nose before I can even lay my eyes on the noodle, and I can never imagine a Shoyu ramen (oops! I mean soba here) can be that good! Now, I’m beginning to apprehend why Shoyu ramen is more popular in Japan, though, however, I didn’t ever tried ramen (or for that matter, soba) as good as this in Japan despite visiting there no less than 7 times in the last decade.

Menya Sakura claims Chuka Soba special is their most popular ramen in Japan, with a rich flavourful soup made with Saba, Niboshi, and other ‘secret’ ingredients, paired with 4 pcs Nori seaweeds, 3 pieces tender charsiu (chashu), a whole Aji Tamago egg, along with bamboo shoot and leeks. The broth tastes a little salty though, but as Menya Sakura claims they don’t use MSG, it’s still bearable for me. Well, if this is the same standard they have in Japan, they certainly earned their bragging rights. Notice I haven’t mention the noodle? Wait, was that really soba? My dining companion and I almost wanna rub our eyes and summon the waitress over to verify whether the chef had mistakenly used ramen noodle instead? OK, I exaggerated a little bit here. Simply put, it’s that good! No, simply outstanding (for a soba, that is), putting them on par with the so-called soba I tried at Menya Takeichi in Suntec City. It was very smooth, chewy, and most importantly for me, lack the usual buckwheat texture of conventional soba. Somehow, over an amazing 3 days, I probably tried the best soba I ever tried, twice (the other one being Yomoda Soba)! And I’m starting to get disillusion over how good soba can get. I ain’t disguising the fact that I’m practically a novice when coming to soba, which I used to dislike because of the buckwheat texture.

Apart from the broth and noodle, the charsiu was reasonably thick and chewy, retaining what I feel is the ideal texture and flavour a good charsiu shall possess. Wait till I come to the Tamago. Usually in ramen, how good the Tamago depends on how runny the egg can get and the flavour it brings. Menya Sakura’s Tamago is truly outstanding, somewhere between a soft boiled egg and a hard boiled egg, upon biting, the texture was so remarkably molten and flavourful, gosh I’m seriously running out of vocabulary to describe this, it’s so good I feel like ordering a few more of it!

As a side note, the restaurant also offers free kimchi and ice water for diners.

In conclusion, all I can say is, Menya Sakura makes their ramen simple, but taste heavenly good!

2nd Visit

Premium Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen with Jumbo Aburi Chashu, $15.90++

Menya Sakura ‘tempted’ me for a 2nd visit with their 1-for-1 new Premium Tonkotsu Shoyu Ramen promotion on JPassport, simmering tonkotsu for more than 12 hours, along with their original aged Shoyu sauce, including 1 piece of seaweed, bamboo shoot, leek, and one giant piece of Aburi Chashu (Aburi meaning partially grilled), a pretty thick one at that, with special Umami paste on top. Their selling point is undoubtedly the thick chashu, with a good texture and tasted rather flavourful. The broth is notably too salty in my opinion, but at least I don’t feel a strong urge for water after eating, a good testification on their claim on not using MSG. Menya Sakura claims to be using ‘Hirauchi’ noodle, supposingly flat, though I don’t really find it flat, but it’s quite smooth and great to slurp actually. Overall, I find it above average, in part due to the saltiness of the broth, but it tastes much better when I added the ramen pepper provided on the table.

I noted that Menya Sakura changed somewhat since my first visit. Now they pre-charged the bill before you even see your ramen, and seems like they no longer provide free kimchi.

Menya Sakura 麺屋桜
69 Boat Quay
Singapore 049857
Tel: +65 94693366

Opening Hours:
Mon – Sat : 11:30hr ~ 20:30hr

Ikkousha Hakata Ramen 博多一幸舎

Published March 22, 2017 by piggie

This is not my first time visiting Ikkousha Hakata Ramen (first time to their Tanjong Pagar outlet though), but this is a tasting invitation where I’m obliged to provide the sponsor a link to my review, so I have decided to start a new post to distinguish from my previous visit. Previously, I had tried their God Fire Ramen as well as Red Tonkotsu Ramen, both on the spicy side. For this tasting invitation, me and my dining partner were treated to their standard Tonkatsu ramen.
Ikkousha Hakata Ramen can’t emphasize enough their broth are painstakingly made by simmering pork bones over long hours, distancing themselves from some ramen restaurants who saved these troubles by using broth essence. And I can testify that, because upon entering their outlet at Tanjong Pagar, I can immediately smell a strong scent, that can’t go wrong.
Upon ordering, Ikkousha gives diners the choice to choose the firmness of the noodles, as well as the denseness of the broth, along with other optional toppings. We left all options at normal, and added a plate of Gyoza because we felt uneasy to walk off without paying anything.
Before the ramen were served, let me touch on the condiments on the table. Ikkousha offers free-flow hard boiled eggs, along with Spicy Takana (Leaf Mustard), Furikake (rice seasoning), ginger, sesame, pepper, and a large jar of ice water. In a moment, I shall explain why I mentioned these.

Gyoza, S$5++

Our gyoza came almost immediately. Ikkousha’s gyoza are tiny, apart from the bottom where gyoza skin are crisply fried, the gyoza generally retains tenderness.

Tonkotsu Standard, S$12++

When our noodles were subsequently served, along came the scent of genuine pork broth. Although I am not really a fan of strong pork scent, but to retain that signature flavour, that means they can’t add too much spices to overpower the broth, however, something still needed to be done to neutralise the stink scent of pork bone. On the kitchen side, MSG sounds like a simple solution without altering too much of the flavour, but on the dining table, that’s where the condiments come in for diners to customise to their preferred taste, though that’s very much the same practice in almost any ramen restaurant elsewhere. As a Tonkotsu ramen restaurant hailing from Kyushu, naturally Ikkousha uses the thin and chewy Hosomen as their noodle, which, I understand, is proudly house made. The broth is sweet, and adds much flavour into the noodle. Their chashu are thinly sliced, I guess that allows its texture to blend with the broth easily.

Per my usual practice, I finished all my broth, but I felt the urge for more water after that. Good thing Ikkousha provides a large jar of ice water on the table conveniently.

Official Website:
http://www.ikkousha.sg/

Menya Takeichi 麺屋武一

Published December 17, 2016 by piggie

I have heard about Chef KANAYA Mamoru in his Buta God days at Ramen Champion, though I have never tried his ramen before. I used to have the perception he’s more gimmicky than his ramen prowess, but my initial impression was immensely overwritten after visiting Menya Takeichi, where he is so-called ‘temporary’ helming.

Anyway, Menya Takeichi was hailed from Tokyo’s Shinbashi (also known as Shimbashi), and is quite a reputable ramen chain in Japan when it comes to chicken broth, promptly expanded to over 40 ramen outlets in the last 4 years.

Maze Soba, $15++

Maze Soba, $15++

For a change, I didn’t order the signature dish (chicken broth ramen) from the menu, and neither did my dining companion. I was very much enticed by their Maze Soba, or rather the look of it from the menu. If the picture above impressed you, I suppose I can reasonably assure you, so will its taste. For a start, the noodle used ain’t your usual soba as the name suggested, it was a flat and thick noodle that is more likely ramen than soba. I guess Maze Soba is just a convenient categorisation for these type of dry ramen which are still relatively new to the Japanese. I really want to emphasis on the noodle, which I understand is different from those used in their conventional chicken broth ramen. The texture was chewy, no, super chewy, and extraordinary smooth! It’s really an understatement if I proclaim this to be the best ramen noodle I ever tried! Then came the ingredients. You can see that ingredients are fully covering the noodle, which I actually deliberately dig out a ‘hole’ to show the noodle’s a flat, thick type. There are bamboo shoot, fried garlic, fried onion, leek, along with a poached egg, fried chicken, and grilled chicken. Before eating, stir and mix the ingredients well, and the flavour will gradually immerse into the noodle, the taste was really marvellous! I ain’t sure whether the accompanied soup is the same broth they used in their broth, probably not. It tastes good, not overpowering, but good enough to rival chicken soup from many Chinese restaurants.

Special Spicy Tsukemen, $17.50++

Special Spicy Tsukemen with special toppings, $17.50++

My dining companion ordered their Special Spicy Tsukemen with special toppings, serves with the same noodle as my Maze Soba. By now, if anyone still unaware what a Tsukemen is, it’s actually dried noodle without broth, but served with concentrated hot dipping soup, an invention by the late ramen god YAMAGISHI Kazuo. The concentrated dipping soup is not advisable to be consume on its own because it’s too salty. While ramen can trace back to its China origin, Tsukemen is an entirely Japanese invention. As such, YAMAGISHI Kazuo was held at high regard by ramen fanatics in Japan (on a personal note, I still prefer ramen with broth). Ramen Champion, where Chef KANAYA made his name in Singapore with Buta God, is the brainchild of Chef YAMAGISHI’s disciple Chef TASHIRO Koji. Let me get back to the main track. Like the Maze Soba, the noodle portion was very generous, and was served with chicken breast, grilled chicken, bamboo shoot, seaweed, and two halves of runny egg. I found it a little difficult to justify the price though, since the ingredients are more or less in same quantity as the Maze Soba.

takeichi_gyoza

Oh, as a J Passport member, I was also entitled to free 3 pcs gyoza! I had tried gyoza elsewhere, but none tasted better than Menya Takeichi’s. Almost all other gyoza I tried tasted dry, but not for Menya Takeichi, the gyoza skin still retained tenderness, and the overall texture was commendable.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t quite expect top quality ramen before I stepped into Menya Takeichi, but I walked out a very satisfied customer.

2nd Visit

Less than a month after my first visit, I brought the old  folks over. I strongly recommended them Menya Takechi’s Maze Soba, and again, it passed with excellence, so good that my mum urged me to return (again) for it.

rich_shoyu_ramen

Rich Shoyu Ramen, $13++

Rich Shoyu Ramen is Menya Takeichi’s most popular ramen from their Shinbashi outlet in Tokyo. Since this is my 2nd visit, I really should try their signature dish. Actually, Shoyu is my least favourite variance among Japanese ramen, but I will try to elaborate from a neutral point of view. The chicken broth is creamy and flavourful, and the noodle used was Kyushu-styled Hosomen. You can find leek, raddish, two tiny pieces of seaweed, one piece of chicken breast, one chicken charshu, and one chicken ball. Overall, I find this decent.

truffle_eggs-p_20170102_133930

Truffle Flavored Ajitama

We got free Truffle Flavored Ajitama being member of J Passport. These runny eggs are sweeter than what we had elsewhere, not sure how Chef KANAYA done it, but you can see its edge is lightly coated with some sort of gravy. Seriously, when my dad grabbed two, it’s a testament how great it taste!

Menya Takeichi 麺屋武一 (Eat At Seven)
3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City North Wing #03-313
Singapore 038983
Tel: +65 62353386

Opening Hours:
Daily – 11:30hr – 22:30hr (Break between 14:30hr – 17:30hr)

Uma Uma Ramen

Published October 30, 2016 by piggie

Uma Uma ramen is a ramen restaurant brought in by Ignatius Chan of Iggy’s. To quote their website, the name Uma Uma stems from “Wu Maru”, a Ramen shop established in 1953 by the father of Uma Uma Ramen’s current President, former actor Teshima Masahiko. Upon taking over the business in 1994, “Wu Maru” was renamed “Uma Uma Ramen”, a play on the original name of the restaurant as well as a pun on the Japanese word for “tasty”. Hailed from ramen kingdom Fukuoka (a.k.a. Hakata. Well, there’s actually two ramen kingdom, the other one being Hokkaido), it’s not difficult to apprehend their ramen adopted the conventional Hakata styled Tonkotsu ramen.

Tonkotsu Ramen, $14++

Tonkotsu Ramen, $14++

If I come here just to savour on this ramen, I’m sure I will leave the restaurant somewhat disappointed. With ingredients that include Chasiu (strange, this is hardly the way a Japanese will spell it), Spring Onion, sesame seeds, and egg, Uma Uma’s Tonkotsu ramen somehow lacks character. The soup leaves a significant pork scent, I thought they could have added some spices to neutralise it, but otherwise, like any Hakata ramen, they are using the thin Hosomen as noodle, which, in my opinion, at least blended well with Tonkotsu broth.

Spicy Chasiu Ramen, $16++

Spicy Chasiu Ramen, $16++

For $2 more, Uma Uma’s Spicy Chasiu Ramen is a better option in my opinion. With a generous portion of spring onions, leeks, chili oil, runny egg, and spicy marinated chasiu, this is certainly a more appetising option. Likewise, the noodle used here is the thin Hosomen. Perhaps because of the overpowering chili oil, which masked out any unpleasant pork scent, it also takes away some sweetness off the Tonkotsu from my tastebud, but this is not uncommon anyway, and I am very much impressed by its chasiu (or charshu, whatever). The two pieces chasiu in my bowl was of medium thickness, and unlike many other ramen restaurants, Uma Uma’s chasiu possesses a good flavour and texture, better than many other ramen restaurants out there.

Mazesoba Chasiu, $16++

Mazesoba Chasiu, $16++

Maze actually means ‘mix’ in Japanese (Japanese have a unique way of English pronunciation), so Mazesoba means mixing soba noodle with sauces, in this case, an egg as well. Mazesoba is the dry version of soup ramen, similar to our local dry noodle, and Uma Uma’s Mazesoba includes spring onions, bamboo shoots, leek, egg, and of course, their signature chasiu, to the soba noodle. When all these are mixed and stirred well, the end result is rather flavourful. Pardon me from saying, I find soba and udon cheaper than conventional ramen noodle in Japan, so if soba is used here, and minus the significant broth which normally takes long hours to cook, I find it a bit hard to justify the $16 price tag. I must stress, nevertheless, that their Mazesoba Chasiu tastes great, and the noodle actually tasted closer to ramen than a soba. In fact, Uma Uma created this ramen for Singapore market, but the reception was so good that they eventually brought this ramen back to their franchise in Japan!

Spicy Chasiu Don, $5++

Spicy Chasiu Don, $5++

There are actually many positive reviews on the web with respect to their Chasiu Don, perhaps more so than their ramen, but the one I ordered here is their spicy version for the same price. Uma Uma’s chasiu has a somewhat similar taste and texture to our local char siew, only softer, and they marinaded so well that makes this side dish truly flavourful. Of course, the using of Japanese rice here is a big complement.

Chicken Karaage, $6++

Chicken Karaage, $6++

I am not a big fan of Chicken Karaage, some restaurant tend to over fry them or having a flour coating too thick, hence diverting the attention away from the chicken. But Uma Uma did it brilliantly, the chicken was tender and the flour coating was adequately thin, so the emphasis stays with the chicken, not just the flour.

In addition, Uma Uma also serves bincho grilled yakitori and kushikatsu, as well as great cocktail! In a way, Uma Uma is unique, while most ramen restaurants simply focus on ramen, Uma Uma is pretty diversified, and pretty great at all front. I’m also rather surprise despite situated at a very extreme end of Millenia Walk’s Nihon Food Street, Uma Uma managed to pull in capacity patrons during dinner hours. Uma Uma also has another outlet in Forum The Shopping Mall.

Uma Uma Ramen
9 Raffles Boulevard #02-06, Millenia Walk
Singapore 039596
Tel: +65 68370827
Website: http://umaumaramen.com/

Opening Hours:
Daily 11:30hr – 24:00hr (Sunday until 22:00hr)

Marutama Ramen

Published July 25, 2016 by piggie
Marutama Ramen, $13++

Marutama Ramen, $13++

I have long heard rave reviews about Marutama Ramen, but was on second mind to try because they are using chicken broth, not the usual tonkotsu that I favour. Anyway, one fine afternoon, I found an opportunity to visit.

I ordered their most conventional ramen, served with negi (spring onions), Aosa seaweed, 1 large slice of pork char shu, along with Hakata-type thin Hosomen noodle. And they claimed they don’t use MSG nor preservatives.

As can see from the picture above, chicken broth comes in lighter texture, it’s creamy, mildly sweet, but lack the strong characteristics of typical tonkotsu broth. I have to say Marutama’s chicken broth is a small delight, and with Hosomen, there’s little to worry about noodles getting soggy if you are a slow eater. Their Aosa seaweed ain’t the usual dried type, it’s more chewy and tasty in my opinion. The char shu doesn’t fail to please either. And if you add the fried garlic slices from the condiment bottle, it will bring the taste of the broth up a notch!

Overall, I find it above my expectation. But is it good enough to warrant a return? I would say, let’s try out other ramen in their menu.

Chabuton

Published June 24, 2016 by piggie
Chabuton

Yoruton Ramen, $12.90++

When Chabuton came to Singapore, there were so much fanfare about it being the first Michelin-starred ramen in the world (better known as MIST in Hong Kong), that ramen enthusiasts in Singapore were all tempted to try, yours truly inclusive. I finally tried it at their Millenia Walk outlet on a weekday afternoon.

Chabuton’s Yoruton ramen is a spicy challenge, with a level ranging from 1 to 5. My friend and I ordered a level 3 and 4 respectively, but somehow, when the order were served, we were given level 2 and 3 instead. No issue, we didn’t want to make a fuss about it. But perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that the mistake was made, as I found level 3 already too much for my liking. Actually upon ordering, I expressed my concern to the waitress that it was my maiden visit, and I don’t know my spicy level. She was kind enough to instruct the kitchen to serve the chili paste on a separate plate, so we can add it ourselves until the level we can take. I added mine to a level of around 2.75, I could have attempted level 3, no problem, but I ain’t desperate to test my endurance level. It was ramen I want, not chili. That somewhat reminds me of the Japanese drama “Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san” (ラーメン大好き小泉さん), the high school girl who attempted level 5 from ramen shop 蒙古タンメン中本(Episode 2), where she ordered a level 5! Anyway, it’s different ramen restaurant, but I didn’t intend to emulate her. LOL! OK, back to the ramen here. It’s my habit to try the broth first before adding all sort of spices. Chabuton’s Yoruton base tonkotsu broth is sweet and filled with sesame, there’s plenty of leek as well as one large piece of charshu. The broth is exceptionally sweet! I have tried many tonkotsu broth before, even in Japan, but I hardly find one this tasty. Surely there must be some secret recipe? Sesame? Search me! As for the charshu, it was tender and chewy, I could hardly fault the ramen at all.

SimplyHer_ChabutonAnyway, I got a 1 for 1 offer on Chabuton Yoruton ramen from Simply Her magazine (right, valid until 30 Jun 2016, soft or hard copy will do) and decided to try them out. Frankly speaking, Singapore’s ramen prices is vastly bloated and many charges almost double that from Japan, at a time when ¥ was 100 against S$1.15 (2015 rates), some ramen outlets claimed they imported their ingredients from Japan, OK, fine. But for those who aren’t, I don’t think their quality, man hour, rental etc, match those from Japan, yet they jumped into the bandwagon of price range that genuine Japanese restaurants are charging, that probably explain the blooming of ramen scene in Singapore… profits! I can’t tell which of them are genuine or not, as such, I regularly wait for ramen offer before patronising (but there are exception of course).

Chabuton claimed they imported their ingredients from Japan, OR “sourced/produced by specially appointed companies by the Japanese headquarter team.” Smart words.

But hold on a second, there is something strange here, as I understand that Chef Yasuji Morizumi earned the Michelin star via his Hong Kong outlet, not his origin Japan. This is unusual because Japan is particularly on top of world gourmet scene, probably already surpassing France where Michelin guide originated from. And normally, a franchise or branch is unlikely to be better than the origin restaurant, more so for Chabuton because they are really ‘new kid on the block’ with a history of merely 11 years, an infant in the eyes of many notable ramen giants there, so what makes it outstanding from the rest? Now, let me briefly elaborate what the three stars in Michelin guide means:

1 Michelin star: “A very good restaurant in its category” (Une très bonne table dans sa catégorie)
2 Michelin stars: “Excellent cooking, worth a detour” (Table excellent, mérite un détour)
3 Michelin stars: “Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey” (Une des meilleures tables, vaut le voyage).

Chabuton started in Chiba, close to, but not in traditional ramen battle zone Tokyo. I don’t believe that none of the ramen power house in Japan doesn’t deserve at least a single Michelin star. Hence the logical explanation is, there was different standard between the Japan and Hong Kong Michelin teams. That’s a side talk, anyway, my primitive experience with Chabuton is good!