Ramen

All posts tagged Ramen

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.

Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry(天川北海道ホワイトカレー)

Published July 17, 2018 by piggie

First and foremost, this is a food tasting event initiated by JPassport, where invited guests get to sample actual portion of Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry’s 0-4 degree aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set and their Spicy White Curry Ramen/Udon Set.

Located at probably the most prominent spot of Millenia Walk’s Nihon Street, Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry is the first and only restaurant in Singapore specialise in Japanese white curry. When they just started, they only had 3 types of set meals on their menu, but have now progressively increased to around 8. Their set meals generally comprise of main course, Chawanmushi, and soup.

Spicy White Curry Ramen/ Udon Set (Chawanmushi and Clam soup not in picture), $16.80++

Patrons get to choose between ramen noodle or udon for their Spicy White Curry Ramen/Udon set. I stick with ramen because that’s what Hokkaido is famous for. And the ramen was served rather promptly upon ordering, so much faster than the accompanying Chawanmushi, that we had to wait another 10~15 minutes for the latter. I couldn’t wait for the Chanwanmushi, as I needed to take this picture before the noodle turned soggy. I’ll touch on the Chawanmushi and the soup when I come to the 0-4 degree aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set later.

Let’s begin with their signature broth.

The ramen broth was light, sweet, and milky when it was served, with little hint of spiciness. It is no secret that milk is the main ingredient for the creamy flavour in the bonito broth, but what impressed me was the use of imported Hokkaido milk! To sidetrack a little, Japan milk is on a class of its own, I don’t know how the Japanese farmers did it, but the richness is top notch. And among them, Hokkaido milk is generally regarded as the best and is often used in premium desserts. It is hence, no surprise that Tengawa also serves Hokkaido milk amongst their list of beverages. I’m sorry, I often get carried away whenever it comes to Japanese milk. Let me get back to the noodle. As I mentioned, the broth was not at all spicy, at least not until it was stirred along with the dried chilli in the broth, which then gave the broth a good spicy kick. And then, the presence of onion also adds additional dimension. Rather unconventionally, the ramen did not come with the usual charshu, but Iberiko (Iberico, pardon me, Japanese tends to use the letter ‘c’ and ‘k’ interchangeably) pork belly, which in my opinion, is much sweeter. The ramen noodle used is the conventional Hokkaido medium curly noodle, thought to be the best in retaining broth, and very true in this case. In addition, the usual suspects, tamago, seaweed, and scallion made their presence too. Overall, the taste is rather appetising, and tasted somewhat like Laksa, substituting the sinful coconut milk with Hokkaido milk here of course.

0-4°C aged Iberiko Loin Katsu with Rice Set, $19.80++

Literally, why it was named as such truly puzzled me. It was explained to me that the pork was seasoned in Spain between 0-4°C to achieve that firmness before shipping here (I hope I get it correctly, it’s getting a little technical). I guess such term mostly appeals to professionals in this trade, general diners like me tend to scratch our head. (=.=)”/) LOL! For all I care, I only know Iberico pork is the premium pork, well and above Japan’s very own Kagoshima Kurobuta (widely known as the best pork otherwise, and already commanding a premium price), though honestly I can’t tell the taste difference between them. But if you asking me, my level can only tell they are both superior in taste than Indonesian and Australian pork that are widely available here. Nevertheless, Tengawa certainly didn’t attempt to hide the fact that they are proudly serving premium ingredients to their customers. Not to mention their effort in presenting this dish. Ever notice the floral pedals? They are genuine, not painting. These are specially imported from Japan too! It is thus an injustice to claim their food plating is mere Instagram savvy, over and above, this is an art! Strictly speaking, you usually only expect to find such treat in posh restaurants, but dining at Tengawa won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Though naturally, it’s unfair to expect the ambience of a posh restaurant here. If anything, I do find the plate excessively large, so big that it almost cover half the width of my table, a stark contrast to the food portion in it. Having said that, Tengawa offer free flow curry, soup, and rice (Note: to be fair, it’s not meant for sharing!), I would have asked for refills if I’m paying my own bill! So, I suppose I can say, the portion is practically unlimited but was given as such to avoid wastage (and possibly more picturesque too).

Anyway, the tonkatsu has a good balance of tenderness and firmness, embedded within crisp breadcrumbs. The spotlight, of course, has to be on the curry. It is very unlike the one found in their ramen, the gravy here is reasonably thicker, less flavourful than conventional Japanese curry, but possesses a more intense milk aroma. I’d say the taste is rather exceptional. Let’s not forget the rice, which I heard Tengawa is using Akitakomachi. The tastiest rice on Earth is said to be Niigata Koshihikari, notably those from Uonuma. My understanding is that Akitakomachi is a close second, on par with Hokkaido’s Yumepirika. It is cheaper and easier to acquire Akitakomachi. But for general diners, usually it’s not easy to distinguish. To a certain extent, much also depends on how it’s cooked. And I have to say Tengawa has cooked it rather well balance, not overly sticky, thus complement well with their curry.

About their Chawanmushi, I must say, it’s very well received from many other diners too. I have a feeling it’s only cooked when we placed order, because it took well over 10 minutes for it to be served, about the same time required to cook a Chawanmushi (excluding time for preparation). Tengawa’s Chawanmushi emphasise on taste and simplicity, with only a small slice of chicken underneath, a fresh prawn and broccoli on top, and infused with truffle oil. I feel its appearance is rather Zen-like, but what’s important is that it has a silky texture with an excellent aroma, and not excessively salty. Very few restaurants have their side dish in the spotlight, Tengawa is one of those exceptional ones with their Chawanmushi.

In any other Japanese restaurants, Miso soup is expected to be served. I am surprise to find out Tengawa is offering clear bonito clam soup instead, which is rather refreshing. It seems Tengawa aspire to be a little different, and certainly demonstrating sufficient efforts to show for it. What I haven’t mentioned, is Tengawa’s impeccable service. At first, I thought we were treated indifferently because we were invited guests, but a check on internet and their Facebook page reveals otherwise. If you come to this page via search engine, chances are, you will also find many more good reviews on them. In conclusion, I’m looking forward to visiting Tengawa again, next time as paying guest.

Tengawa Hokkaido White Curry 天川北海道ホワイトカレー
9 Raffles Boulevard
#02-16, Millenia Walk
Singapore 039596
Tel: +65 62651314
Website: http://japanesecurry.business.site/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TengawaWhiteCurry/

Opening hours ~
Daily: 11:30 hr – 21:30 hr

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka らーめん山頭火 (2018)

Published April 19, 2018 by piggie

This is another complimentary tasting session by Santouka, who is introducing their new Spicy Shio Ramen, Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba, and dessert Parfait Strawberry. Hence, I am segregating this post from my other posts on Santouka.

We were not allowed to choose the location, but were allocated their outlet at Cuppage Terrace. I have been to their The Central (a.k.a. Clarke Quay Central) outlet many times, but this is the first time I’m visiting their outlet at Cuppage Terrace.

Cuppage Terrace is a happening area, particularly popular for those seeking a drink after work, and I suppose that’s the reason why many restaurants there are having a break in-between lunch hours and dinner hours. In view of that, we made an attempt to be at Santouka’s Cuppage Terrace at 5.30pm, the moment they resume business in the evening, before the madding crowd comes in. The crew at Santouka Cuppage Terrace are mostly very young and energetic, and seems excited at our presence, they spent extra effort in explaining the new items to us, which really makes penning this post a lot easier.

Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba, $12++

The Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba was the first item served. Before I go on further, let me elaborate, that Kaisen is Japanese for Seafood, Hiyashi means chilled, and Maze is mixed, soba is of course the noodle. Just like many other ramen restaurants, Santouka ain’t using the buckwheat noodle in their Mazesoba, they use the same noodle as in their ramen. Me and my dining partner were quite surprise at its price, as most ramen restaurants serving Mazesoba usually charging very much more, but mainly using other ingredients. As you can see from the pictures, Santouka’s Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba was served on a rectangular plate, which almost taken up the entire width of our single table, so that gives a rough idea of its generous portion.

That’s not all, diners who order Santouka’s Kaisen Hiyashi Mazesoba also get to choose three additional toppings (1 meat and 2 veggie) from charshu strips, eel, beef slices, bamboo shoots, egg, black fungus, broccoli, garlic, coriander leaves etc. Now that really makes the noodle more appealing!

In general, taste wise, there’s a rich nutty fragrance, and I sense the presence of sesame sauce, overall it’s very appetising! In Japan, chilled noodles such as soba and udon are very popular over summer, it’s very much like chilling down a hot summer with a mug of beer. Although in Singapore, it’s quite different, most of us still favour a hot broth despite our monotonous hot and humid climate. As the name suggests, the key ingredients here are the seafood, which include salmon, scallops, shrimps, salmon roes, and apart from the shrimps, all others are served raw. Such ingredients go down well with chilled noodles, not hot, hence I can understand why Santouka only come out with a cold version of their Kaisen Mazesoba. I suspect this may well be a testing balloon of patrons’ reception, that if popular, they may start introducing more flavour and premium ingredients such as crabs and sea urchin. Let’s wait and see!

Spicy Shio Ramen, $16.50++

Santouka’s Spicy Shio Ramen came a little unconventional, firstly, it’s missing their signature plum found on their usual Shio ramen, secondly, the presence of fried onions (which is rarely found in Japanese ramen). Other ingredients include leek, coriander leaves, sesame, and of course, charshu. It is obvious their intention is to raise the flavour amidst a stronger spicy broth, so as to bring out the character of the ramen. And despite the spiciness, the sweetness of the rich and smooth tonkotsu based broth is still very noticeable. Unless I’m mistaken, I didn’t observe any obvious presence of chilli oil, which means the spiciness is likely the result of chilli powder, which of course, makes it less oily. All in all, I find this ramen packs a good punch and balance for someone who likes hot stuff. If anything, I feel it possesses a very prominent local flavour with a good fusion of Japanese touch.

Parfait Strawberry, $12.50++

Wait, I know it’s a far cry from its look in Santouka’s pamphlet, but I have to reiterate this parfait was really how it looked when it was served, we had not yet eaten it. First and foremost, the crew were quite apologetic that they didn’t have the correct glass available for it. Secondly, they informed us that the parfait melts very fast, and they assured us they tried their best to squeeze in as much ingredients (which also include corn flakes in the middle of the parfait) as possible. But cosmetic issues apart, the fact being there weren’t as many strawberries as I was anticipating, perhaps due to the fast melting whip cream that they couldn’t squeeze in more. In addition, the strawberries didn’t taste very fresh. Despite these down sides, I still quite enjoyed the parfait overall. Ultimately, Santouka is a ramen restaurant, not exactly a dessert bar. Let’s hope the restaurant irons out these technical matters before the Parfait is officially made available.

Kazan Wing, $5++

As per my normal practice, I tried not to leave the restaurant without paying anything, so we added this Kazan Wing. It was much better than ‘finger-licking good’, capable of giving those fried chicken franchise a run of their money! On their menu, it was stated that preparation takes about 10 minutes, that means it’s freshly fried, and the meat still retained that tenderness, not stale. What really made these remarkable is firstly, the lemon, excellently complementing the miso onion paste, truly spicy and delicious! This is not part of their new item, but I would highly recommend it.

Last but not least, a little information about Santouka’s upcoming promo, for more information and promotion, do follow their page on JPassport.