Ramen

All posts tagged Ramen

Menya Kanae Hokkaido Singapore 麺や かなゑ

Published November 14, 2020 by piggie

Menya Kanae has recently opened a new restaurant at Novena Regency (where??), and with some exclusive ramen.
Since they were offering 1-for-1 on selected ramen during their opening weekend, me and my dining partner were tempted to try their signature Tokusei Sapporo Ebi Tonkotsu Ramen ($19.80++), which is by default spicy, and include ingredients such as flame-seared tiger prawns, charshu, half ajitama (runny egg), bamboo shoot, seaweed, and sakura ebi tempura flakes.

Due to the promotion, we waited slightly more than an hour before we managed to grab a pair of seats, but in my opinion, this is unlikely to be repeated after the dust are settled. Still, this was significantly shorter than the 150m queue outside Ippudo Westgate I encountered the evening before, which I literally gave up, unwilling to wait for what I felt could take 1-2 hours.

First and foremost, I need to comment on Menya Kanae’s location (currently there are 2, I am referring to their Novena Regency here). If you aren’t driving, then chances are, many may not want to walk across from Novena MRT station to Novena Regency just to try their ramen. In fact, their outlet at Orchard Central Hokkaido Marche is more walkable if not for some exclusive menu here.

Tokusei Sapporo Ebi Tonkotsu Ramen, $19.80++

As I mentioned, their signature ramen is Tokusei Sapporo Ebi Tonkotsu Ramen. On their menu, it is listed as spicy, although non-spicy option is also available. I can take such spiciness level, but I strongly recommend avoiding the spicy version. Reason being, if you want to pay premium for prawn broth, then at least you wanna smell and taste the aroma right? And not compromising on just another broth overpowered by excessive chili powder which almost numb your taste bud. Japanese hardly receive to such spiciness, so it must be an attempt to customise according to local flavour no less. Unfortunately, the broth of this ramen gave me such an impression. Eventually, whether prawn shell was used in the broth or not simply became inconsequential, because the aroma was just not there, neither was the taste. Noodle wise, they are using Hokkaido-styled conventional thick, round noodle, which I feel is reasonably firm. Charshu was what I found pathetic, just 2 tiny strips of charshu, makes me wonder whether they deliberately sliced it in half to make up for the number. Though, to be honest, I find it nice probably because they are using pork belly, and actually, since they flame-seared the prawns anyway, might as well do it for the pork belly too. Tiger prawns are reasonably large, tasty and flavourful, possibly the best ingredients in the bowl. All in all, I find this spicy version just mediocre, which is more so the reason why it’s hard to tempt me driving here, or take a long walk from Novena MRT station. If anything, I’ll probably visit more of their Orchard Central branch, more convenience for me in any way. That said, if Menya Kanae is relying on their spicy ramen, or prawn broth ramen, to boost up popularity in their Novena Regency outlet, I personally feel they ought to do more.

Tsuta 蔦

Published October 3, 2020 by piggie

Currently, there are only 3 ramen restaurants attaining Michelin star in the world. All three of them are based in Tokyo though, but two of them have franchises in Singapore.

Tsuta is the first ramen restaurant in the world to have been awarded Michelin star for their restaurant in Sugamo, and the first Michelin star ramen restaurant that came to Singapore back in 2016. When they just started off at Pacific Plaza, the queue can easily stretched for hours, that reveals how much Singaporeans value Michelin recommendation, perhaps somewhat obsessed, if I may put it that way.

I didn’t join in the fanfare to rush for Michelin treat… too much hassle, I can never apprehend such commotion. Basically I am not one willing to queue for hours, be it on cuisine or the latest Apple gadgets. But when Tsuta came out a somewhat irresistible promotion, and my dining partner pestered me to try, I’m game.

Tsuta hails from Tokyo, where Shoyu ramen is the main genre, and it’s also Tsuta’s forte, naturally I would love to try that in my primitive visit. However, my dining partner was having that same idea, hence I settled for their Shio ramen instead, thinking that we could try out their different broth. By the way, for some reason, Tsuta call their ramen “soba”, but the texture just ain’t conventional soba for certain. That said, actually, it’s not uncommon in Japan that some ramen restaurants in Japan call their ramen “soba”, but usually if I didn’t do any research, I would avoid such restaurants because soba is really not my cup of tea.

Shio Soba, S$15++

Let me begin with their Shio ramen, and by the way, abnormal to most ramen restaurants I patronised, the differences between Tsuta’s Shoyu and Shio ramen are not just the broth. Tsuta created a sublime distinction that truly brings out the characteristics of both flavour, and I ain’t showing off my writing flair here, far from it, I feel my vocabulary can hardly justify such distinction. But I’ll try!

This is unlike any Shio ramen I had tried in the past. Most ramen restaurants probably focus on the mild salty broth, but Tsuta emphasise on aroma, and they did it with brilliant success. Firstly, there is leek and green olive puree in truffle oil, mint leaves, onion, bamboo shoot, and of course, charshu, with thin Kyushu-styled noodles. Going by the first few ingredients, I guess we can have some idea that the broth must have an intense aroma, oozing a complex elegance not found elsewhere. While I can’t tell if the noodle texture has anything special, I have to confess I thoroughly enjoyed the aroma as I ate, be it the truffle or minty smell, eventually finishing every drop of the broth.

Shoyu Soba, S$15++

I’m not sure if I can uncover too much on their Shoyu ramen (or Shoyu soba, whatever they call it), after all I had only tried half a spoonful of the broth. The noodles came with bamboo shoot, leek and black truffle pureed in truffle oil, onion, and charshu. The aroma is sophisticated, probably due to the complexity of their soy sauce, which I understand from Straits Times, was made from Wakayama soy sauce and Chef Yuki ONISHI’s own Shoyu. The broth is also made up of dashi with beef, vegetables, clams and other ingredients. Hence, I can only say it comes with complexity and a remarkable flavour.

Teriyaki Tori Paitan Soba, S$11.80++

On another day, in another outlet, I tried out their Teriyaki Tori Paitan Soba. Again, Tsuta call their ramen soba, but it’s ramen noodle, not the soba noodle we commonly know. In this case, the broth is rich chicken broth, with thin noodle, baby leaves, sweet corn, mushrooms, and yellow onions. As expected, there is no pork charshu though, merely 2 slices of thick chicken meat, and at least the texture of the chicken in my bowl came somewhat tender and chewy. Personally, I applause Tsuta’s effort to implement teriyaki chicken in a soup noodle, but it’s a tall order. I feel sorry that such combination fails to bring out the full extent of Teriyaki flavour, diluting its flavour in the broth in the process. I would find more satisfaction having Teriyaki chicken first, follow by a conventional bowl of ramen. I must confess I have a bigger love for Tonkotsu broth, and I do find the broth of this ramen satisfying, however, this is not the standard I anticipated from a Michelin chef. At best, it’s only moderate. But to be honest, my dining partner likes this over their award-winning Shoyu soba (or ramen, whatever), in part perhaps due to her dislike over truffle aroma. But get me wrong, this isn’t a poor ramen, just decent in my humble opinion, somewhat reflected in its price.

Ramen Hitoyoshi

Published September 9, 2020 by piggie

Hitoyoshi is actually a small town in Kumamoto, Kyushu. Although Kumamoto city has some very famous ramen restaurant, but the same cannot be said on Hitoyoshi. It is, in fact, famous for bento sold by an old uncle on the station platform, and is otherwise known as a transfer station for some of Kyushu’s popular sightseeing trains. That said, I doubt Ramen Hitoyoshi has anything to do with this scenic Kyushu town.

Ramen Hitoyoshi is actually a local ramen chain. I understand their owners had worked for some famous ramen restaurants, notably the popular Keisuke franchise, hence I more or less knew I can expect a decent Tonkotsu ramen over there. Ramen Hitoyoshi somewhat adopted a similar practice of Ichiran Ramen in Japan (Why ain’t the ramen chain in Singapore yet anyway??), letting customers customise their noodles in terms of broth richness, oil level, thick or thin noodles, noodles texture, as well as a range of additional toppings and side dishes. Indifferent to Ichiran Ramen however, they don’t offer partition seating, and they offer free marinated bean sprouts and sweet corns.

Garlic Tonkotsu with Ajitamago, $13.90++

Their menu basically has three main ramen categories, namely the Original, Spicy, and Garlic, all of them tonkotsu based nonetheless. I went for their Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen with Ajitamago ($13.90++). My bowl of ramen came with a large but thin piece of charshu, black fungus, spring onions, and of course, two halves of a runny egg.
I always feel Tonkotsu broth goes well with thin noodle, so it’s a no brainer for that category. And I selected normal hardness, my noodle turned out to be chewy as expected. The garlic aroma is not that overpowering, just nice to my liking, or else my dining partner would be grumbling because she hates that smell.

Spicy Tonkotsu with Ajitamago, $13.90++

My dining partner ordered Spicy Tonkotsu with Ajitamago ($13.90++). At first, I thought they simply added chilli into the noodle. Nope, their chilli paste tasted more complicated, if I’m not wrong, there are minced meat within, possibly dried shrimp, so it’s far more flavourful than just chili. Overall, the broth is more appetising than conventional tonkotsu, but it’s very spicy too.

In general, I’d say the quality is good. But I still have that mindset that local ramen shouldn’t cost as much as a conventional Japanese ramen restaurant unless they have some unique signature, which unfortunately Ramen Hitoyoshi doesn’t possess enough.

At time of writing, J Passport members get to enjoy a free drink on the house for their first visit.

Website: https://hitoyoshigroup.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RamenHitoyoshiSG/

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!

Suparakki Ramen

Published December 20, 2019 by piggie

I’ve got to confess I don’t usually visit local ramen restaurant before I visit Suparakki Ramen, but my first visit there really got me awed. Yes, although the name sounded Japanese (which means Super Lucky), it is really the joint effort of three local passionate chaps who undergone rigourous training in Japan prior to setting up restaurants here. Knowing that they probably cannot challenge the legacy of major ramen chains here, their strategy is to keep their price modest while delivering quality noodles. To sustain that, you can see the decor are basic, tables are optimised, leaving barely much room for manoeuvre, and even diners have to fetch their own noodles when their numbers are flashed, in other words, self-service. In trade-off, of course, there will be no service charge. Diners basically order and pay upon entering, and will be given an electronic buzzer before getting into the restaurant to choose their seats.

Tonkotsu Black Garlic Ramen, $9.90+

Suparakki Ramen use typical Hakata-styled noodles, and hard boiled Tonkotsu broth for 6 hours without adding MSG. I had this Tonkotsu Black Garlic Ramen, which is the most expensive ramen on their menu, and comes with two thin slices of Charshu, half a runny egg, scallions, black fungus, and seaweed. Even though without using MSG, I did not notice any unpleasant pork scent in their broth, which was overpowered by the nice aroma of black garlic anyway. In addition, I was also asked upon ordering whether I’d like their normal or spicy version, which I selected the latter, without incurring any extra charges. It can hardly go wrong with the thin Hakata-styled Hosomen used, which was cooked to a perfect firmness too. Frankly speaking, for such quality and configuration, one usually pay double the price from an established Japanese ramen chain in sunny island Singapore. As a matter of fact, I just patronise one the day before, seriously, double the price 😛

Tonkotsu Gyokai Ramen, $8.90+

My dining partner ordered their Tonkotsu Gyokai Ramen, which is the integration of pork and fish broth, while the ingredients inside are the same as mine. Again, no unpleasant pork smell, came with a hint of bonito, but I ain’t suggesting that they merely using Bonito flakes. It’s saltier, and Suparakki claim that their broth is akin to Tsukemen, where the broth is usually thicker, but not in this case certainly, or else it would be too excessive.

Set A, Ebi Fry ($5.50+)

For an additional $5.50+, I got 3 Ebi tempura plus a drink of my choice, which I selected Heaven & Earth Ayataka Green Tea. They do serve hot green tea too, as well as Coke, and if i remember correctly, mineral water. I have to say their choice of beverages are quite limited, but who cares when there are so many beverages option available in the malls they are located at. The tempura prawns are crisp, freshly fried upon ordering by the way. Besides Ebi Fry*, other option include Karaage and Gyoza, these, along with Chashu and Ajitama are also available as stand-alone add-ons. All in all, we were very satisfied with our meals, and I will surely return.

*Ebi Fry is not available at their Citylink Mall branch.

Subsequent Visit

My 4th visit came within a week from my first, you read that right, forth visit. I guess that’s sufficient statement to say how much I love their ramen, which is also reasonably cheap. My multiple visit only involve one new flavour, so I’ll just touch on their Dry Truffle Ramen here.

Dry Truffle Ramen, $6.90+

Suparakki Ramen’s Dry Truffle Ramen is using ingredients such as black fungus, half a runny egg, shredded seaweed, scallions, and braised pork cube, and of course, truffle oil. The chewy Hakata-styled Hosomen noodle is more springy than those in their broth ramen, and I feel in using braised pork cube instead of conventional chashu here is a masterstroke, the saltier pork raised the flavour of the noodle up a few notches, and the aroma of truffle oil is absolutely scintillating. The result is what made me go back repeatedly for more, this has got to be one of the best ramen I’ve ever tried, in my opinion, better than many I patronised in Japan. Having said that, I have to confess my dining partners have very contrasting opinion though, one of them like this because she dislike pork broth, another dislike this because she doesn’t like truffle scent. I can do with both! 😀

Suparakki Ramen currently have outlets in North Point, Westgate, and Citylink Mall.

Website: https://suparakki.com.sg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Suparakkiramen

&Joy Dining Hall

Published December 8, 2019 by piggie

Yeah, the name &Joy Dining Hall does sound strange. It only recently opens at Jurong Point Basement along Japanese Food Street, and mainly comprises 6 main dining elements, namely Ramen Kiou, Sushi-GO, Roman.Tei, Pittarino, Wadori, and My Gohan. Some of these can be considered as stand alone restaurants, while others are sharing a common dining area. Besides that, there is also another sub-element, &Joy Eats•&Joy Drinks, somewhat like the drink stall inside a food court.

Realistically, I ain’t able to cover every element in my first visit, let’s begin with Pittarino, a stand alone pizza restaurant. I can understand, pizza is not really a Japanese thing, so why is it here?

Well, the Japanese are well known for their take on foreign cuisines, for example, ramen wasn’t really Japanese to begin with, but their evolution from their Chinese predecessors are so massive that these days, people tends to think the Chinese stole it from the Japanese because in general, ramen tastes so much better than many of their China counterparts. I said that not just because I love Japanese cuisines, but I had visited many cities in both China and Japan, and the probability of finding horrible noodles in China far exceed that in Japan. Coming back to pizza, I have to reiterate, I have been to Italy too, but ironically, I found the best pizza in Japan, seriously, inside a humble Kanazawa eatery, far away from the country’s culinary capitols (ie. Tokyo, Osaka).

Half – Half: Smoked Salmon & Prosciutto, $16++

This is only available during Pittarino’s opening promotion, offering half a slice each of their Smoked Salmon pizza and Prosciutto pizza, giving patrons a taste of both pizza for one price, both usually going for $17.90++ each (12″ whole pizza). One look at the pizza crust, you can tell it’s not pre-baked, it’s only baked upon order, because they can never anticipate what type of combination a customer wants. Amazingly, they can do it in 90 seconds! It’s not really a matter of speed, but by doing so in 90 seconds, they can maintain the juicy texture of the toppings, this is really how a good pizza ought to be done, and I can safely assure, you will find it very different from your usual pizza franchise.

Let me first touch on their Smoked Salmon pizza. It’s a cream based pizza with rocket, caper, tomatoes, lemon, and of course, smoked salmon. This is my favourite, and a chef recommendation. If the ingredient list ain’t sound convincing enough, the taste was fantastic, an excellent fusion of savoury, sourness, blend coherently with the cream to create a very appetising take, if anything, I thought the caper brought out the essence of the pizza!

As for the Prosciutto & Rocket pizza, despite having a more appealing appearance, would have to settle for second best. Prosciutto is Italian dried-cured ham, and naturally it’s slightly on the salty side, but the added tomato sauce, rocket, and Grana Padano cheese generate a good balance, and eventually, the juiciness truly made this pizza remarkable.

Tomato Cheese Ramen, $14.90

And this would be the ramen after it was stirred

Hailed from Osaka, Ramen Kiou’s signature ramen gotta be this Tomato Cheese Ramen. I believe the broth must be a pork based soup, but there is little hint of it as any Tonkotsu flavour is overpowered by the rich tomato broth. In the bowl, apart from the cheese, there ain’t any charshu, but only pork slices, veggie, and thin noodle. The taste is very much akin to tomato spaghetti but in a soup version. I’d say it’s very appetising!

Ebi Chahan, $8.90

We also ordered Ramen Kiou’s Ebi Chahan, and added a piece of Chashu. As can be seen from the picture, they use prawns and dried shrimps in their Ebi Chahan, but something just ain’t quite right. Perhaps it’s due to the dried shrimps, I smell strong aroma from that of mouldy food, quite akin to those you gather from Yam or Dried Mushroom fried rice. I don’t like it, I’d say, wasted the ingredients in this fried rice. I lose appetite straightaway. That said, I paid $2 extra for the chashu, which is great to be honest.

For Ramen Kiou, as it is basically a kiosk order, self-service concept, there is no additional service charges.

2nd Visit

Kiou Chahan, $6.90

For some reason, I didn’t order their ramen on my 2nd visit, and I had their Kiou Chahan instead. I won’t pretend this is fantastic, but it certainly tasted much better than their Ebi Chahan, no mouldy smell. Now, in my previous review, I did mention I was impressed by their chashu, and in this fried rice, shredded chashu is used, along with spring onions and egg. The aroma was good, and the chashu really brings out the taste up a notch.

Gyoza, $5.90

I also ordered their Gyoza. Ramen Kiou fried it in a way where the bottom is a big layer of flour, ensuring a larger area of crispiness at the bottom, while the top still retains chewy.

My dining partners both ordered their Abura Soba ($11.90), which was a little on the salty side, though the noodle was cooked to a perfect chewiness, according to them, so much so they claimed they would come back for this. For me, I am having reservation until I try it myself next time.

&Joy Dining Hall
1 Jurong West Central 2, #B1-49
Jurong Point
Singapore 648886
Website: http://njoydininghall.com.sg

Opening Hours~
Daily: 11:00 hr – 22:00 hr

Shirakaba Sansou 白樺山荘

Published October 25, 2019 by piggie

Miso Char-siu Men, $16

I have big sentiment towards Shirakaba Sansou dating back to 2007. It was the first of my 15 trips to Japan, having my first ramen in Sapporo from ESTA’s Ramen Republic. I walked around the premise and selected Shirakaba Sansou without prior research. Though I have little recollection on its taste, I remember it was a satisfying bowl of Miso ramen, with butter and corn among beansprouts and bamboo shoot. After a filling dinner, I returned to my hotel, grabbed my luggage, and took the overnight train leaving Hokkaido for Aomori. That time, I thought it would be my one and only visit to Japan, I never expected returning for a whopping 14 times more.

So when Hokkaido Marche brought Shirakaba Sansou over, I was naturally delighted. It was a big opportunity for me to relish a forgotten taste, despite the fact that since my first visit, I had re-visited Sapporo twice but not Shirakaba Sansou there.

Having said that, this bowl of Miso Char-siu Men is very different from what I ordered some 12 years ago in Sapporo, the ingredients are very different, notably the absence of butter and sweet corn. Pardon me, I wasn’t even sure the name of the ramen I ordered then, but I remember jotting down the name in a notepad and shown it to the staff, as the smartphone era had not really taken flight yet, and I couldn’t understand Japanese. Back to this Miso Char-siu Men… for $16, it came with 3 pieces of charshu, along with bamboo shoot, leek, black fungus, and seaweed etc. The noodle used was medium thick curly noodles, which was excellent in retaining the broth upon eating. Overall, it’s still a satisfying bowl of ramen but if I would have to grade it, I would say above average. One thing I like about Shirakaba Sansou is that, boiled eggs are available freely to patrons, which is not a common sight in Japan.

Shirakaba Sansou is actually housed together with Ajisai under Hokkaido Marche, but I chose to review them separately in case some of these eatery decided to brand out from Hokkaido Marche eventually.

Shirakaba Sansou @ Hokkaido Marche
181 Orchard Road,
Orchard Central
#B2 Unit 11 – 29, 44 to 48
Singapore 238896
Website: https://www.hokkaidomarche.com.sg/shirakabasansou

Opening Hours ~
Daily: 11:00 hr – 22:00 hr

Ajisai 味彩

Published October 24, 2019 by piggie

Hakodate Shio Ramen, $12

This actually wasn’t my first visit to Hokkaido Marche’s Ajisai. The first time I had their spicy ramen, but this time round, I wanna try their signature, the Hakodate Shio Ramen. Hailing from the southern Hokkaido city, Ajisai came from the region famous for Shio ramen with a rich history of 80 years. They claimed their broth was made using pork, chicken, and natural rock salt on a base of kelp produced in southern Hokkaido.

I can’t deny their presentation looking kind of appealing, in fact, the above picture was stirred so that I can show the charshu hidden underneath, otherwise, the presented ramen looks like this:

Nice looking eh?

OK, now the harsh truth…

I had mentioned before, that there are 3 distinct species ramen in Hokkaido, namely Miso (Sapporo), Shoyu (Asahikawa), and Shio (Hakodate). Hakodate’s Shio ramen are generally boiled with some kind of seafood, such as sardines, kelp, etc, along with pork or chicken broth, or both, to give out a clear broth in light flavour. And personally, I feel Shio ramen is the most difficult to impress among these, because if too light, there may be little difference in comparison with just using salt, then the broth very well ends up worse off than instant noodles’. Unfortunately, that was the impression I had for this ramen. I need to reiterate, that I had tried Shio ramen before, both locally and in Hakodate, and this broth here is by far the blandest, apart from the presence of salt. To be honest, I can think of a few means to improve the flavour without taking away the fact that it being a Shio ramen, and that I feel a Shio ramen broth shouldn’t just taste like salt water, the chef needs to bring out the taste of other ingredients, otherwise why bother adding them in the first place? And without those, strictly speaking, I shouldn’t be looking at eating ramen at such price. The saving grace is that, at least the medium thickness noodle is chewy, and that the egg is sweet, with charshu flavourful.

Kara Miso Ramen, $14

I mentioned earlier that this wasn’t my first time patronising Ajisai. In fact, my first time was much more satisfactory with their Kara Miso Ramen, which I presume, aren’t their forte in the first place. I actually ordered that because I was craving for something spicy, and for a moment, I had forgotten that they are from Hakodate. The reason why I didn’t blog about this earlier was the lack of time. To be honest, I think their Kara Miso ramen contains more ingredients in comparison (cost more too), but those are literally fungus, and some other vegetables that I don’t think alter much flavour, just that their broth tastes so much desirable. Others such as egg, medium thick noodles, and charshu remain consistently good. OK, credit has to go to the Miso paste they used perhaps. At least I can say, this is that sort of ramen that I will return for, but I can’t say the same for their Shio ramen.

Ajisai @ Hokkaido Marche
181 Orchard Road,
Orchard Central
#B2 Unit 11 – 29, 44 to 48
Singapore 238896
Website: https://www.hokkaidomarche.com.sg/ajisai

Opening Hours ~
Daily: 11:00 hr – 22:00 hr

Ramen Sora

Published February 14, 2019 by piggie

Miso Ramen Corn Butter, $12.80++

What happened to all those positive reviews on Ramen Sora when it first came to Singapore?

Me and my dining partner were rather enthused to visit Ramen Sora ever since they first set foot in Singapore’s culinary scene 2 years ago. As their origin is in Sapporo, which is famous for Miso Ramen, I had a Miso Ramen Corn Butter while my dining partner ordered their Spicy Miso Ramen.

When my noodle was served, I was a little taken aback by its appearance. The usual ingredients of a Sapporo ramen are all there save perhaps for the Miso, and the colour of the broth looks suspicious, looking more like a Shoyu broth. One try, and I failed to discover any Miso’s presence, with the broth tasting more like a rather bland Tonkotsu soup, which made me wonder, did they really boiled the soup for nearly a day as they claimed? Look, I ain’t a ramen novice, and I have been to Sapporo 3 times, a Miso broth shouldn’t taste this bland, and it wasn’t good enough to consider it a Tonkotsu or Shoyu broth either. It wasn’t really terrible, but mediocre. Even the charshu texture was a little stiff, overall, the result was more like something coming out from an apprentice. To put it simply, it lacks character.

Good thing my dining partner ordered something different, albeit still a Miso based broth nonetheless. But all she said was it’s more of a spicy soup, NO Miso. To add further insult, it tastes worse than what I can get from a food court for 30% lesser in price.

Seriously, are they hailed from Sapporo? I shake my head. I later found out, some recent reviewers in Tripadvisor shared similar opinions, but they are more vocal than me. Ramen Sora’s Singapore website is gone, their Facebook not updated for more than half a year. Looking at the pictures from other reviewers a year or two ago, their pictures on Miso broth are more vivid. It may be my guess, but it seems likely the original owner has sold the franchise but left only the name behind.

Unlike Arnie, I definitely won’t be calling ‘I’ll be back”.

Oh, by the way, contradicting to what some other blogger stated, Ramen Sora do charges GST and service charge.

Ramen Sora
277 Orchard Road, #B2-4A & 5
Orchard Gateway
Singapore 238858
Tel: +65 69090605
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ramensoraSG/

Opening Hours ~
Daily: 11:00 hr – 21:00 hr

Ramen Sora has ceased operation.