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36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 23, Shoyu

 

Shoyu Ramen

Shoyu ramen

I was now almost one day in classy Düsseldorf and felt it was already time for seconds at Naniwa, where I had started my foodie safari through this town. It was a few hours past my udon lunch and there was still a bit to go before our big sushi dinner tonight so coming back here just seemed the logical thing to do. Because of the weird mid day timing, the queue, short to begin with, went super fast and before I could think about it too much I was already sitting at the bar counter browsing through that beautiful menu of theirs. I could’ve ordered without even looking at it again as I already knew what I wanted since I had left yesterday. They’ve proven themselves worthy, so now I sat here excited again, waiting for my shoyu ramen.

 

 

 

Oh gosh, it was beautiful. The broth was amazing, clear on the surface though porky and muddy on the ground with a salty, tongue-coating umami. I already had that content smile crawling up on me again. Feeling pretty proud of myself and my brilliant idea to fit in another meal today, I started lifting springy noodles and slurping them down in a machine-like manner, being twice as fast and louder than the guy in the neighbouring seat as if it was some sort of challenge. The chashu came in a few thin slices, soft and melt-in-my-mouth and even the tamago, not perfect, however, had strongly improved on the wax level compared to yesterday. Enough said, I liked this even better than their delicious Tantanmen and because of the less thicker broth I also emptied that bowl down to the last drop. This was awesome, domo arigato gozaimasu.

Get Your Grub On!

Naniwa Noodles & Soups
Oststraße 55
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 161799
http://www.naniwa.de/

36hrs in Food Paradise – Hour 1, Tantan

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Tantanmen

I haven’t been out to Düsseldorf enough and always only heard what insane food paradise in regards to Japanese cuisine it’s supposed to be. Since being so close this week I decided to make a stopover and visit a very fun friend of mine, who just happens to live right in the midst of Little Tokyo, the area neighbouring the Düsseldorf main train station, which is home to many Asian (predominantly Japanese) shops, restaurants and people.

After dropping my stuff at the apartment and throwing in a quick cold one with my friend and his brother we headed around the corner to get some dinner at one of the ramen shops in the area. To my delight, there was a queue out front, which is always a good sign, and luckily it kept on moving quite fast too. Not long and we were sitting down and I started smiling just browsing through the menu.

We had a little selection of appetizers to go around before the mains and we were off to a good start. We had crispy and succulent tori karaage, some juicy gyoza and nutty gomaae with a thick sesame gravy. All washed down with a cool asahi from the tap and I, still smiling, was ready for my first ramen bowl since way too long.

My sin of choice was a spicy Tantanmen with extra f.o.c. tamago and veggies. Oh goodness, this mince infused broth was thick and rich like a gooey katong laksa with a mud-like sediment of the best kind. Strong sesame flavours my taste buds, instantly but gently numbed by the chilli oil and fibres. Loved the noodles, implied curly and the chewy bouncy kind I use to admire. Just the egg didn’t quite make the mark and was lacking that particular waxiness of your usual flavoured ramen tamago. Nevermind that, I’m head over heels crazy about this place and am already planning my next visit.

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Get Your Grub On!

Naniwa Noodles & Soups
Oststraße 55
40211 Düsseldorf
Germany
p: +49 211 161799
http://www.naniwa.de/

Bavarian ramen.

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Tan Tan Men

It was the last weekend of Wiesn in Munich and I went back to the beer tents at freaking 7:30 a.m. in the morning to meet my friend from Hong Kong and her hilarious entourage from Spain, Belgium, Ireland and England, from whom most had never been to the Oktoberfest before; no reservations, no choice. After a bit over an hour wait, we actually made it into the Augustiner beer tent and…well let’s just fast forward for a couple of hours and a few emptied stones. Our little group split up; some went missing, some went home and a few continued on their german beer quest. I, even though ready for an extended nap on the couch, made a little detour to my favourite ramen shop in Germany to date, Takumi in Maxvorstadt, just a little train ride away.

I was obviously lucky today, unlike on other occasions, as the place was actually open and no waiting in the queue either. I sat down and ordered my favorite, the Tantanmen. I have tried others, but so far no bowl could beat that red and rich, spicy broth. Portions are huge here and I was a bit overwhelmed when the piping hot bowl showed up, doubting I could actually finish it, I was wrong. The broth was awesome, savoury and spicy, thick and rich, loaded with peanut and sesame flavors and loads of that deliciously spiced minced meat. I absolutely loved it. Now let me talk about those noodles; I do come here almost everytime I’m in town, but these were hands down the best ones, they’ve ever made for me. Maybe because the place was not as packed as usual, maybe they improved generally or I was just darn lucky, but these noodles were very very close to perfect. Speaking pasta terms, they were absolutely on spot al dente, chewy and with this unique texture, that only ramen noodles have. Not that they have ever been really bad before but more often than not, they were a little on the softer side. Not stopping there, even the eggs went through some sort of evolution here and seemed more beautifully waxy than ever. So awesome guys, keep it up.

Service here has always been super nice and everybody is offering you smiles and it was exactly the same today. Staff is friendly and service is pretty fast and efficient. If I would need to pick on something negative it would be the fact that your ordinary ice tea here comes by the glass for EUR1,80, which gets quite pricey if you (like I) tend to drink loads while eating big bowls of hot soup. In the end, it’s just water, so I would rather pay a bit more for a free flow of my jasmine tea rather than order over and over again, but maybe that’s just me being used to free flow tea and water in these kinda places. Other than this little blemish, I totally love it here and see no reason why not to come back again and again and again.

Takumi München (open all week)
Heßstr.71
80798 München
Germany
Tel: +49 89 528 599
http://www.takumi-noodle.com/index.html

From Tokyo to New York City.

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Tokyo Shoyu Ramen

It was almost the end of our New York City trip when our lovely hosts brought us out to Ivan Ramen on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. I was excited like a little child before Christmas as I missed my chance to check out his original shop in Tokyo during my last trip with the boys in 2014. The place is fairly small but pretty nicely set up with some colorful twisted wall art and nicely dimmed, yet still sufficient lighting to take halfway acceptable pictures without using a flash. Let’s do this.

I had a bit of a hard time deciding, which bowl I should get as there was everything I love on the menu – shoyu, tsukemen etc., even a couple of seasonal dishes. My gut told me to go with something traditional after that brilliant chilled contemporary beef ramen at Momofuku Noodle Bar the other day. I have a copy of Ivan’s book, so I did tend towards his signature shio ramen, which is explained in a step by step guide on the last pages and I thought that if I ever get around to try making it, this could be a reference moment. However, a friend had already ordered one so I switched midst order process to a bowl of shoyu ramen instead. Excitement grew stronger and just the looks of it gave me confidence, that this was going to be good. The chicken-based broth was dark of soy, had depth and was full of salty flavor and light dashi aroma. So good. The rye noodles, they use for this one, are very thin with a lovely bouncy texture, the eggs were still a bit runny but just seconds away from that perfect waxy state and the chashu just melted away in my mouth. That’s also why I felt a bit offended by the guy on the next table, who, without even trying, just neglected all of his beautiful pork belly away on the side. What a waste. Moving on and after trying mine and every other bowl on our table, I realized, that here’s so much more goodness to have had here and that I really need to come back to this shop some day. So wait for me tsukemen.

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L.E.S. Buns

For starters we tried their L.E.S. (Lower East Side, I assume) buns, which combine the two cultures and cuisines this shop stands for, Japanese and Jewish, Tokyo and NYC. The Japanese influence was represented by the fluffy steamed buns and the crunchy daikon slaw, while the Jewish and NYC touch came from the wonderfully juicy pastrami and the ass kicking spicy mustard. Great combination of flavors, globalization right there on my plate.

Service here was super friendly, attentive and fast and the place is like a trendy but low-key New York version of a ramen shop you want to spend some more time in, than just your 10-15 minutes slurping on your bowl of noodles. Nice concept, amazing food, more complementing than contrasting, I’m sold.

Get Your Grub On!

Ivan Ramen NYC (open ever day)
25 Clinton Street
New York
NY 10002
United States of America
p: +1 646 678 3859
http://www.ivanramen.com/

Smorgasburger – Go Ramen! Go Life!

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Ramen Burger

One of our first activities in New York was walking all the way from West Village to Williamsburg to check out that famed ramen burger from Keizo Shimamoto at the Smorgasburg food market. It was a super hot day and we underestimated how long that “little walk” would take us, speaking alone that it took forever just getting over Williamsburg bridge. So when we eventually arrived we were pretty much done for the day but also saw a lot of beautiful city views on the way. Williamsburg is actually a pretty nice and grungy neighbourhood, full of cafés, bars and restaurants and Smorgasburg must have one of the best views on Manhattan, that a foodmarket could have. It was pretty busy out here, but we still managed to locate one of our hosts and the ramen burger stall quite easily. The queue was long but moved down fast as these guys really knew what they were doing. Everything was impressively set up in an assembly line kind of way, so patties were sizzling, ramen buns getting crisp and burgers were assembled by the dozens. Thank goodness as we were starving and dying to try this.

That thing was nothing but genius. The meat was not overly seasoned, maybe a bit too little, however beefy, juicy and had the right size in comparison to the noodle buns. Cheese and lettuce weren’t either outstandingly good nor bad but that sauce, a shoyu reduction glaze that tasted something like a sweetish Asia style bbq sauce, had some absolute delicious flavours going on. Last but not least the most curious of elements, the buns. I had a ramen type burger before in Singapore but the noodles were fairly crisp and crunchy and some parts broke off while taking a bite. Here, I have no clue how they actually did it, as it really tasted like qq cooked ramen noodles and still stuck together in it’s patty bun shape until the last two bites maybe. So it really was like the perfect fusion of two fantastic dishes into one; innovative, genius and best of it all delicious.

Get Your Grub On!

Ramen Burger (open Sundays in season)
Smorgasburg (at Williamsburg Flea)
50 Kent Avenue
New York
NY 11249
United States of America
http://ramenburger.com/

Momofuku Tour – Part 2.

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Cold Beef Ramen (Seasonal Special)

After our delicious fried-chicken-sandwich-stopover at Fuku we went just a few doors down to Momofuku Noodle Bar to have some of those tasty sounding chashu buns, our friends had been raving about while eating their crispy chicken; I love these foodies. Unfortunately, they were just about to close for their afternoon break before dinner service so we checked, when they’ll be open again and went for a little bar in the area to bridge the waiting time with some happy hour drinks. We were back at the door like 20-30minutes after they had re-opened and the place was already full and bustling with people. I must say, I came here with high hopes but very low expectations. You never really know how these hyped places turn out to be. So let’s see.

We started with a couple of beers, a few glasses of sake and some dishes to share. The spicy cucumbers were nicely done and slightly different from how I know them. Someone smashed the hell out of them and they seemed a little bit fermented, covered in that red Japanese chili pepper mix (togarashi) and some crushed almonds. Pretty nice actually. The chashu buns, the actual reason we came here for, were great. Finally, someone got that meat to bun ratio right. Two thick slices of beautifully and soft pork belly with some crunchy lightly cured cucumbers and a sticky hoisin sauce. That’s the stuff and I still regret not having tried the brisket buns too. Then came the first real surprise of the evening. I was wondering why my friend had ordered the rice cakes here and reckoned it would just take up unnecessary space in my stomach, that was reserved for that big bowl of ramen we had coming but oh my gawd, I’ll be eternally thankful to him for doing that. I don’t know how they created this texture, fry or maybe pan fry them until literally rice-crispy-crisp on the outside and teeth-sticking chewy on the inside. Then they all lay around in an absolutely insane and hard-to-define cream sauce, that was wonderfully savoury with a sweetish touch, that reminded me a bit of okonimyaki sauce. I really have to work on my palette again to become better in identifying single flavours, but for now, it was good enough for me just eating and enjoying that amazing dish. The kitchen had added even more layers of texture and flavor by sprinkling scallions, bonito flakes and tobiko over it all. The only ingredient I was indifferent about was the chicken. Anyhow, best rice cakes ever.

After this, my low expectations rose into the sky and thankfully I had the best yet coming. For the bowl, I ordered one of their seasonal summer items, a cold beef ramen dish that sounded just right for a hot day like today. The looks instantly brought back memories of Matador, with its’ perfectly rose slices of roasted beef. The meat was delicious just a bit hard to bite off from, so I ended up eating it by slice and mouthfuls. Not that I cared. The chilled or rather cold broth was light with some citrusy flavors like yuzu or ponzu. This was so refreshing that I would have actually preferred to take it outside to the street and eat it in the warm summer sun. The noodles had proper bite and bounce that reminded me of Korean Naengmyeon not only because that’s a cold dish too. Just the egg, however perfectly made, somehow felt a bit out of place to me. I loved everything about this, the unique aromas and the innovative approach of taking something traditional and transforming it into something entirely new without losing the slightest bit of awesomeness. A dish definitely in my top 3 for the year and one that makes me want to live here and see what else they come up with next.

To the Noodle Bar itself, it’s a rather simplistic and minimalist setup, with light colored wood and mainly long sharing tables, like a bar exactly. On our table getting in and out of my seat was a bit of a hassle though, climbing over other people’s bags and stuff and I also found it a bit too cold inside (having a coolish dish as well). This places is crowded and the air is bustling of chatter from a cool mixed crowd hanging around before heading out to town. Thankfully there are many more Momofuku shops and concepts for me to try out during my next trip to New York but this one’s a definite keeper. Thanks, your food made me smile today.

Get Your Grub On!

Momofuku Noodles Bar (open ever day)
171 First Avenue
New York
NY 10003
United States of America
http://momofuku.com/new-york/noodle-bar/

New branch is open for business!

imageToday I went for lunch at Orchard Central at the new branch of Nantsuttei and had my old favourite Hot Miso Ramen Extra Hot Tanmen again. It has been a very long time since I had this lovely spicy bowl of awesome but i must say they still got it and it tasted exactly the same as at their Parco Mall location. Additionally the new shop is more bright and modern, a tad bigger and by far much more convenient for me to get to. Great to have you around.

Nantsuttei
181 Orchard Road
#07-12/13 Orchard Central
Singapore 238896
Tel: +65 6337 7166
http://www.nantsu.com/sg/

Unexpected calorie overload.

imageIt was already pretty late when J and I admitted defeat in baby present shopping at forum mall just about when I started to feeling a little woozy and low sugary. On the way out I passed Uma Uma and it seemed like the right place to get me some of my energy back. I had read about them before but never felt the urge to get out of my way to actually try it but since I was already here, I thought “what the heck”.

I didn’t feel like plain tonkotsu tonight so I ordered the Garlic Ramen, which was advertised as being their newest bowl on the menu. It was still tonkotsu based and the broth was pretty thick and had an overly sweetish flavour pumped with loads and loads of garlic which reminding me a little of jiro ramen. The noodles were alright, thin and with a slight bite but the toppings didn’t quite make the mark. The Chashu had a strong pork flavor and the egg, even though cooked right, was broken into pieces as if someone did just casually chuck it into the bowl from across the kitchen, unacceptable if you ask me.

The people working here were talking very little but smiling and nodding constantly and the super fast service got me in and out this place within 15 minutes. The ramen however quite tasty, wasn’t too impressive and I will never forget how disappointing a shattered egg can be.

Uma Uma Original Hakata Ramen
583 Orchard Road
#01-42/42/43
Forum The Shopping Mall
Singapore 238884
Tel: +65 6235 0855
http://umaumaramen.com/

 

Reassuring good.

imageI seem to come back to ‘Ippudo’ more often these days and today I ordered my old go to choice, spicy ‘Karaka-Men‘ with extra cashu and tamago. As they use the same base the strong and rich tonkotsu broth reminded me a lot of their original ‘Shiromaru Motoaji just with a spicy peppery note coming from the miso and ground pork. The meat was not as fine as at many other places but more coarsely chopped so it left an enjoyable chunkiness in the texture pond. Still loved the crunchy cabbage and the comparably hard noodles here and even though this fantastic bowl was my long time favourite for a reason, I was reassured that the ‘Spicy Black‘ has taken the lead for me at ‘Ippudo’. For starters we had the new ‘Spicy Boiled Gyoza‘ which had a great back-of-your-throat kinda punch (I really do fancy boiled gyoza these days) as well as the also new ‘Spicy Pork Bun‘ which pretty much tasted like the original with only some very mild extra heat. It’s great to rediscover things and to realize that you love them anew.

Ippudo SG 風堂
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6235 2797
http://www.ippudo.com.sg/

素晴らしい!

image‘Ippudo’ 一風堂 had opened up another shop at Westgate mall and even that this was at least triple my usual lunch calorie intake I made an exception to have a taste of that new ‘Spicy Black Ramen‘ that went from seasonal to resident bowl on their menu.

This thing was simply amazing, the thick dark and rich tonkotsu broth was great by itself, spicy peppery and after mixing in what they call their special nikumiso it just got another crazy punch of heat, much more chili like this time coming from the shinzo pepper, not overbearing and still very much enjoyable. Owning up to my expectations the two extra tamago I ordered were absolutely “perfeggt”, the chashu buttery tender and the thin noodles at extra hard just as I like them. My absolute by far favorite thing in this though were the fresh leaves of cilantro, never had that before in ramen and don’t want to do without it anymore. Wow, what a great bowl? I may have found my new no#1.

Ippudio SG 一風堂
3 Gateway Drive
#03-03 Westgate
Singapore 608532
Tel: +65 6465 9308
http://www.ippudo.com.sg/

Best supporting act.

imageAfter my ‘Ramen Burger‘ and just four meters across the room I ordered my second course the ‘Dipping-style La Mien with Laksa Cream‘ or much shorter ‘Laksa Tsukemen’ from the other pop-up concept shop here, ‘Rakusabā’.

We were a bit back in line and particular attention was paid to the creation of each plate so we had to wait quite sometime until we finally got ours. For me the hold off wasn’t too bad as I had the burger just before but my friend nearly starved watching us eating as it was already quite late for lunch. When the time had come it all looked pretty neat and interesting and I shot my pictures as fast as I could to finally start eating. The noodles weren’t too special, no typical and slippery laksa bee hoon anyway and so that they wouldn’t stick together they were drizzled with some oil. Unfortunately they were still a little stuck so ended up just being oily sticky noodles. Dipping them into the thick concentrated laksa cream was quite funny and unfamiliar. Flavours as one remembers laksa, coconutty and spicy with an unusual viscous consistency. It was good we were so hungry though as every slurp was extremely filling, tasty and interesting definitely but just a tad too rich for my liking. What I enjoyed most about this dish were all the condiments on the plate. There was a stick of crispy oven roasted you tiao that was quite hard to bite, some wonderfully crunchy lotus roots, two decadent pieces of soft and juicy pork belly confit, not so soft soft egg with spicy shrimp sambal and my absolute favourite, the salmon otak otak gratin (fishcake) with it’s hint of spicyness, light taste and some crunchy pickled cucumbers on top. When finished with all, we received a top up of a shrimp and pork infused broth to water down the laksa cream for the last slurps. Not bad at all and how it’s properly done tsukemen-style, but I was just too full by then to completely empty my bowl.

I really kinda liked it because of it’s originality and the many very different things I got to try. Just the waiting time a couple of minutes shorter and the sauce a couple drops more watery would have made it even more enjoyable.

Rakusabā
The U Factory
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

It’s ramen, it’s a burger, it’s awesome.

imageTime was slowly running out  until some of the pop-up eateries at Gillman Barracks were about to disappear and so I finally made the effort on this hot Saturday and came down here to try them out.

My first order was the ‘Bulgogi Ramen Burger‘ from ‘The Traveling C.O.W.’ which also has a food truck going around the city. I wasn’t too hopeful that this was going too be much of a taste surprise but more of a gimmick kinda way of playing and switching the ingredients around. I was quickly taught differently when I took my first crunchy bite out of this. The panfried noodle paddies, even though super crispy and crackling away, were nice and chewy on the inside and held up pretty well throughout me going to town on it. The fresh lettuce and tomatoes added some more rather fresh crunchy textures and the bulgogi beef just tasted crazy good – juicy, sweetish savoury like it is supposed to be. I just hoped there would have been more of it. Only the sesame dressing they used I couldn’t really pick out in between this flavour bonanza but overall this was great stuff and less messy to eat than expected. Nice job.

I wasn’t too sure if it even makes sense to write about something that’s about to close down but I read somewhere that they are planning to take this on to their truck menu and really wish that’s true, hopefully even with a normal burger patty version in tow.

Update: In the meantime they also broiled up some mean ‘Wagyu Burgers‘ at Laneway 2014.

The Travelling C.O.W. (Chef on Wheels)
The U Factory (now hopefully on the road)
Boiler Room, Blk 39
#01-10
Singapore

Bari-Uma opened at United Square.

imageUnited Square had a new ramen shop in their basement – one of the ‘Bari-Uma’ branches – and my mate and I wanted to go check it out tonight.

I wasn’t up for the full on tonkotsu action so I ordered the lighter ‘Shoyu Ramen‘ which tasted nice enough but was nothing too exciting and unfortunately again not sufficiently salty. Will I ever have a desert in my mouth again? As ordinary as the broth was as extravagant were the condiments, the chashu/pork belly was flame grilled and had this awesome and unusual smokey flavour and they did a great job boiling up some perfect flavoured eggs as well. Unfortunately the noodles fell a bit short behind such standards and hardly made an impression on me but the deliciously different ‘Boiled Gyoza‘ were top and sure made up for it.

Trying new ramen I tend to set my expectations very high and even though ‘Bari-Uma’ didn’t quite make the bar it is still good having another reliable ramen source so close by and since I haven’t tried their signature ‘Tonkotsu Ramen‘ yet there’s still some things to discover here.

Ramen Bari-Uma ばり馬のらーめん
101 Thomson Road
#B1-08 United Square
Singapore 307591
Tel: +65 6354 3711
http://www.with-link.co.jp/eng/index.html

My first visit to Ramen Champion.

imageI read about ‘Ramen Champion’ a lot but stayed rather sceptical considering the big number of very average ramen shops in Singapore. On occasion I actually saw some tempting stalls popping up and leaving again before I managed to come down here but tonight some friends and I had planned to finally try it out. Researching during the day, my choice fell on ‘Bario’ because it had that ‘Jirokei‘ or ‘Jiro Style‘ ramen that I ate only once before at ‘Menya Shinchan’ (麺屋しんちゃん) which have closed down their shop at Robertson Quay a long time ago.

The bowl was massive and just loaded with stuff, heapz of sprouts that added some nice crunch and big slices of soft and smokey charred chashu that was good but not more. The thick and porky broth had an outrageous garlic punch that made my tongue feel furred and unknowing as I was, I had even added some additional fresh garlic from the freeloader station as well. “Hey again there Mr. Dragon Breath”! The extra chilli though seemed a much better idea. All this was already pretty great but what I loved most about this bowl were the noodles; they were those thick curly ones, springy and extremely entertaining to eat. All noodles should be like that.

Even that they didn’t do a bad job trying to create a comic style Japanese ramen town of some sort, ‘Ramen Champion’ still has a touch canteen atmosphere to it, also because of the fast turnover of customers, vibrating order alerts and the obligatory plastic trays. Nevertheless I was very positively surprised with ‘Bario’ and might take this as a reason to give some of the other stalls here a chance to do the same.

Bario バリ男
201 Victoria Street
#04-10 Bugis+
Singapore 188067
Tel: +65 6238 1011
http://ramenchampion.com.sg/index.php/portfolio/bario/

Return to my old favourite.

imageI spontaneously caught up with a friend over dinner and since days I was thinking about my former favourite ramen shop ‘Ippudo’ and the fact that I had never actually tried their signature bowl; decision made.

They made my decision more difficult by running a summer promotion with a black garlic ramen which reminded me of the black version at Keisuke but I stayed strong and ordered their classic broth ‘Shiromaru Motoaji Special‘ with egg and fatty pork cubes. The look and first sips of the soup didn’t completely convince me but the more I slurped the better it got. The broth developed into a deep porky flavour that had a slight sweetness to it. I didn’t have tonkotsu ramen for a long time so the richness was a bit overwhelming but it tasted great. The egg was perfect and the pickled ginger added some extra levels to it all but I particularly liked the noodles which were harder than usually and could’ve been even more so for my taste. Only downside were the pork cubes which actually were fat cubes really so the search for the perfect pork belly continues. Of course we also had their must try ‘Pork Buns‘ that were sweetly glazed and the softest thing on earth as well as the ‘Beef Tataki‘ which was pretty good but mainly because of the light lemon dipping sauce, the sharp onions and tangy jalapeno paste.

I had nearly forgotten how good their ramen actually was but since I had my first bowls here, Singapore has become a battlefield for the best ramen in town but for me ‘Ippudo’ is still running in the upper ranks for sure.

Ippudo SG 風堂
333A Orchard Road
#04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6235 2797
http://www.ippudo.com.sg/

One bowl at a time.

imageIt was ramen time again and since my birthday dinner I wanted to go back to ‘Miharu‘ and try their ‘Shoyu Ramen‘. I was about to order the one with the special soya but the waitress here was kinda dominant and sort of talked me into ordering the normal standard version instead. From what she said I doubted she ever had tried either herself but since I seem to have a soft spot for pushy waitresses I followed her recommendation and it actually turned out great.

Even that I really liked the soya base of their shoyu broth I was still a little bit reminiscing about that way saltier bowl I had at ‘Menya Musashi‘ in Tokyo, which made my mouth dry out big time. I still found the corn an odd ingredient in a bowl of ramen but appreciated the alien texture it added. The chashu wasn’t really anything special and this time I didn’t even try the bamboo shoots but therefore the egg was outstanding and on point perfect, coldish and waxy. I wonder if I will ever get their noodle process as the menu offers the option to upgrade the thickness of your noodles but every time I ordered a bowl so far asking for the thickest version I was told I didn’t have a choice. Anyway all in all a lovely bowl.

This visit wasn’t my last one here as I still want to explore their menu a bit more and hopefully next time I’ll find the guts to stand my ground against that waitress. One bowl at a time, one bowl at a time.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464

Maybe stick to the fish

imageI had friends in town who I met back in 2008 during my first weeks here in Asia and since they are now living in Europe they were craving for some Japanese and so we met at ‘New Garo’ up in Chun Tin Road. As I already had an excessive Japanese dinner one night before I didn’t really feel like anything fish but spotted their cold ‘Hyashi Chuka Ramen‘ on the menu and made my pick.

This ramen was covered with spinach, chashu, a bit to sweet tamago (sweet omelette), fish cake, pickled ginger, cucumber and bamboo shoots and sesame seeds which made it all look very pretty and colorful. It tastes quite refreshing, the noodles had a nice bite and all the different textures of the ingredients made it quite entertaining too eat. The sauce was a light soy and vinegar vinaigrette that I kinda liked it and even that overall this wasn’t really an arousing experience it nevertheless was refreshing and tasty.

I came to ‘New Garo’ a number of times before and like it as a place for decent sushi to reasonable prices so I will surely come back, not neccessarily for the ramen though.

New Garo Japanese Restaurant
6A Chun Tin Road
Singapore 599593
Tel: +65 6467 8905

Leave Ramen to the Experts

imageI was now nearly one week in Germany and thought it would be a good idea to try out some Asian fair around here. Together with two colleagues I went to the recently opened ‘Urban Kitchen’ at the location of the old swimming pool in Heidelberg.

I didn’t see anything that was tempting on the menu so I gave their ramen selection a shot. They had some weird toppings on sale but the fact that they were offering miso and shoyu versions here made me curious. I ordered the ‘Shoyu Beef Ramen‘ and it actually looked quite nice with it’s dark broth and big slap of grilled beef on top. Taking my first slurp of the soup brought me back to reality and that Germany is rather a rookie in the art of ramen cooking. Sadly it was pretty tasteless, not salty whatsoever and probably not cooked for very long. The noodles were dreadful boring strings with no flexibility and springiness and tasted awful floury. All other toppings were quite okay, the snow peas were al dente and the steak even though a little out of place tasted pretty nice and beefy.

‘Urban Kitchen’ is a nice and lively place and my soup was okay and maybe a good choice for a light lunch or dinner but it was definitely nothing anywhere close to the mighty ramen. I kinda knew but still hoped for a decent copy of the real thing.

http://www.myurbankitchen.de/index.php

Urban Kitchen
Poststrasse 36/7 (Im Alten Hallenbad)
69121 Heidelberg
Germany
Tel: +49 6221 9986793

Spare the Calories

imageI was running some last minute errands before my Germany trip and came by Ngee Ann City just about when I felt a slight appetite growing in me. I didn’t feel too hungry so I wanted to get a small bowl of cold udon at this shop my friend recommended in the basement just to realize it’s a branch of ‘Tsuru-koshi‘ which I already visit too frequently during my lunch hours. So a bit more hungry now I recognized a small ramen shop in the corner that offered ‘Tantanmen‘ and even that I wasn’t in the mood for something that heavy I still queued up.

They had a tantanmen special with a super spicy version but since I had a twelve hour flight in front of me I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risk and therefore chose the standard one which the very friendly waiter reckoned should be spicy enough. When my bowl arrived it looked rather ordinary and I was not quite sure if I made the right choice. I tried a few slurps from the bright orange broth which was not particularly bad but didn’t have much of a sesame taste and hardly any heat kicked in. I appreciated the huge amount of sprouts and the eggs were nicely waxy. The chashu was alright but had an unpleasant aftertaste, the bamboo shoots looked terribly thick and brown that I didn’t touch them at all and the noodles were overcooked and way too soft.

It was worth a try but I am not really considering coming back here anytime soon. Not alone because of the average taste but also because of the above average price of S$20 per large bowl which is much more than most of my favorite ramen shops are charging.

Baikohken Ramen Restaurant
391A Orchard Road
#B2-01-04 Takashimaya Food Court
Ngee Ann City
Singapore 238873
Tel: +65 6235 3483

Keep The Good Ramen Coming

imageIn the past we would’ve gone out, drink a little too much and get up to no good but this year we celebrated my birthday ‘old people style’ and appropriate to my coming age with a quiet dinner so everybody could make it back home before midnight. My friend chose ‘Miharu’ at the back of the Gallery Hotel close to Robertson Walk and Mohamed Sultan which he likes a lot. Whilst waiting we had a chat with some Japanese customers in the queue who regarded ‘Miharu’ as one of the more authentic ramen shops in Singapore.

As so very often recently I felt like shoyu ramen and since they had a version in my favorite ramen style I had their ‘Komi Tsukemen‘. I first hesitated as it was advertised to have a lemonish taste but I’m glad I didn’t change my mind. The broth was lovely salty with just a hint of lemon which didn’t taste alien at all but added some comforting freshness. While the chashu and the egg were mostly ok, the bamboo shoots tough were rather weird, pretty thick and brownish in color. They didn’t really taste good as well and so I left them mostly untouched on the side of my plate. My highlight were the noodles which they import directly from a noodle factory in Japan. They were thicker than usual, nicely twisted and super chewy so that despite the huge portion that it already was I still wished for more. Definitely a new contender for the great ramen places in this town.

imageWe also ordered two sides of gyoza. The normal ‘Yaki Gyoza‘ where quite nice but the ‘Shi-So Gyoza‘ were just outstanding. According to the name they used shiso leaf in this which reminded me of thai basil and that gave those gyoza a very unique flavor that I want to taste again.

This place has been here for a while and I regretted not coming by earlier as I left yet again happy and content knowing that I had yet found another gem for my list. Brilliant.

Miharu Sapporo Ramen
#01-11 The Gallery Hotel
1 Nanson Road
Singapore 238909
Tel: +65 6733 8464