Sunday, December 27, 2009

AFURI (阿夫利)@ Ebisu, Tokyo

Here in Tokyo again enjoying my leave... and of course catching up on some delicious ramen!

Today's ramen expedition takes me to AFURI(阿夫利) in Ebisu, Tokyo.

I was watching the TV program "King's Brunch" on a lazy Saturday morning, and coincidentally AFURI was featured as the No. 2 ramen among the top 10 ramen shops in the Ebisu and Meguro area.
It was a ramen shop that I chanced upon a few years ago, and I had an excellent impression of its light but flavoursome ramen.
Without any hesitation, I took a 30mins trip and headed to AFURI for lunch!

AFURI's entrance, chic and clean

Opens from 11am to 4am in the morning!

The name "AFURI" came from the name of a mountain, Mount Afuri, in the Kanagawa prefecture of Japan. The shop is named after the mountain as it uses water collected from the wells of Mt. Afuri.

What an effort! I wonder if any shops in Singapore is that particular.

Open kitchen, clean interior

A small and neat ramen shop, AFURI has a row of about 15-20 counter seats, facing the open kitchen where 4-5 staff worked diligently and politely preparing the ramen. The lighting is a simple row of bare light bulb hanging from the roof.

I ordered the Yuzu Shio Ramen (ゆず塩麺, 850 yen).

While waiting for the ramen, it was interesting to observe the little details of how the staff were prepared them. And AFURI lived up to expectation of being the No.2 shop in the area!

- The chief chef tasted the soup of every single bowl of ramen served, to make sure that the thickness of the soup is right
- Every piece of char siew is grilled before its served, making it more fragrant
- The staff was placing the toppings on the ramen carefully to ensure its presentation

Yuzu Shio Ramen

A pretty bowl of ramen!

The light soup is a mix of chicken and seafood (bonito, seaweed, dried fish) with a tinge of yuzu essence. It is refreshing, and because its light, you won't feel like stopping. The ramen is topped with a piece of char siew, seasoned egg, seaweed, menma, mizuna (a type of Japanese vegetable) and yuzu peel. The grilled char siew was tasty, the yoke was perfectly semi-cooked, and the crunchy mizuna added texture to the ramen. The narrow noodles matched the lightness of the ramen well too.

All in all, it was delicious! It was a bowl of ramen that can make me go bottoms-up, finishing all its soup.

AFURI has 2 outlets, one in Ebisu and a new one in Harajuku. Both are within walking distance from the JR station and not too far off from Shibuya. If you are in Japan and are looking for something light, this will be perfect for you!


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Ramen Data - AFURI @ Ebisu, Tokyo
Address: 〒150-0013 東京都渋谷区恵比寿1-1-7
Types: Shio
Price: 750-850yen
Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallery - Part 2

Finally managed to find time to visit the new ramen on the block, Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallery.
Arrived at 840pm, and as expected, there was a pretty long queue.

really good business, huh?

After waiting for about 20 minutes, I managed to step into the store.

But interestingly, thats not it!

There is a bar counter area where the customers are asked to wait some more, with a queue forming around that table. However, we can start looking at the menu and even order drinks and two types of finger food (Ippudo Bun and Lotus Root Chips) while waiting for a seat.

Quite a brilliant idea! I thought.
A way to encourage spending while the customers are waiting.
But none of the customers bought into the idea, and patiently waiting for our seat.

For me, I took the time to take some pictures of how the interior look like.
The restaurant has 2 areas, a counter area facing the chefs, and a table area.

Counters
... and table section

The interior is done up in a posh way, with dark walls, a big chandelier in the middle, and bowls arranged artistically on the wall.

With my wife, we ordered the Shiromaru and Akamaru ramen with egg (S$17 each), plus a Gyoza.

... but we are told that their they have sold out their gyoza.
However, they have this dish call the Gyoza-nia (rhyming with Lasagne), which is gyoza baked with cheese. Its a whopping S$10, but I thought that I should try since I've queued up for so long.

Gyoza-nia. Can you see the gyoza?

Must admit that the portion is a bit small. I'm virtually paying $2.5 per Gyoza.
The taste is ok, but for the price...

Next came the main dish of ramen ... but we were told that they ran out of egg!
Their business must be so good.
I'll have to come again to see the standard of their egg.

Akamaru-Kasaneaji 赤丸かさね味

Made with pork bone soup and topped with 2 pcs of pork belly char siew, flavored oil, black fungus and spring onion. There is a ball of miso in the middle that you can mix into the soup to adjust the level of saltiness you want.

Shiromaru-Motoaji 白丸元味

Moving on to Shiromaru, which is the original-style Hakata ramen. Pork bone soup, with pork loin char siew, spring onion, cabbage and black fungus.

Not sure if you've noticed something...

That Ippudo uses 2 types of char siew for the 2 types of noodles!

The more fatty pork belly is used for the strong Akamaru, and the more lean pork loin for the Shiromaru which is more mild.
It is quite rare that a shop is particular to the level that they will prepare 2 types of char siew. I am impressed by the effort put in by them.
The char siew itself is reasonably good. I prefer the pork belly ones.

The noodles used were the proper narrow noodles meant for Hakata-style ramen. This is more "right" and I like this more than the normal noodles used for other stores that sells kyushu ramen (e.g. Yoshimaru, Tanpopo).

Although I couldn't get my gyoza and tamago, all in all my experience was quite pleasant.
The staff were courteous and well-trained in the Japanese way... and many of them somehow can speak Japanese quite fluently. The decor is pleasant and comfortable. The ramen is decent too. If you like the authentic Hakata ramen, this might be the only place that offers it.

The only grumble that I might have is the price. With a ramen with egg, which is actually the normal serving in other stores, costing S$17, it is about 20% more expansive than other good stores like Miharu. The $2.5 per gyoza is a bit steep too. The presentation of the noodle can do better too.

Will still return to try the other dishes that they have. But perhaps not so frequently, and might concentrate just ordering the ramen.


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Ramen Data - Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallery
Address: 333A Orchard Road, #04-02/03/04 Mandarin Gallery
Types: Hakata Ramen (Tonkotsu)
Price: S$14-17
Rating: 8/10

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ippudo Singapore @ Mandarin Gallary

Another Japanese ramen chain arrived in Singapore!

博多 一風堂(Ippudo)

Their website is very cute! Lego-like figures of customers and staff zooming around the stall, making and taking orders, just like how a real stall might look like.

Ippudo Phamplet

I've eaten their ramen in Tokyo before and quite like its tonkotsu ramen.
However, I was there at the wrong time!
Only managed to grab a piece of the pamphlet...

Opening hours before their grand opening on 12 Dec 09...

Before its opening on 12 Dec, they will be having lunch soft opening from 2-4 Dec, and dinner soft opening from 5-7 Dec.
Thereafter they will take a break until their official opening on 12 Dec.

... sob

Anyway, taking this chance to share more about Ippudo.

The owner, Mr Kawahara, is a success story in the ramen world.
Started his business in 1985 with a 10-seater stall, he gained fame after opening a stall in the Yokohama ramen museum in 1994.
He subsequently won the "All-Japan Ramen Master Competition" 3 times in a row from 1997-1999.
With over 50 outlets in Japan now, Ippudo opened its first overseas outlet in New York's East Village in 2008.
This outlet in Mandarin Gallery will be its 2nd overseas outlet.
Not bad, Singapore!

Most probably I can only try it out after its grand opening.
Will see how it matches up with their stalls in Japan.
Till then!

Link to Part 2

Monday, November 9, 2009

About ... SPOONS

Not Boomz but Spoons.

For those who went to Santouka, did you notice that the spoon has this L-shaped dent between the handle and the caved-in part?



You can actually do this with the spoon!



I'm sure all of us have this experience of dropping a spoon into the bowl of noodles.
The shape of this spoon is one of the ingenious ways of the Japanese to prevent that from happening.

Googled around a little and found this interesting ramen-spoon!

It was created by a Japanese ramen chain in Nagoya, as an eco-friendly utensil for customers to be able to eat the noodles (with the forky part) and drink the soup using just this one, thereby cutting down on the use of wooden chopsticks.

Amazingly, its featured in the MoMA Store in Tokyo! Each costs 1050 yen.

But some bloggers who tried it was complaining how difficult it is to scoop up the ramen with it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sapporo Ramen (サッポロ ラーメン) in Paris

This week's ramen expedition brings me to... PARIS, the fashion capital of the world!
I'm fortunate that my job allows me to have a chance to be here.

It was lunchtime, and I was looking for a place to have lunch while I was on the way to a meeting.
Walking along Rue St Honore, where the fashion boutiques are, I saw Colette, Gucci, John Galliano.... and Sapporo Ramen!?!?
Wow, didn't expect that there will be a ramens shop along St Honore!

Being a Ramen Walker, I know that I have to have lunch there.

Sapporo Ramen, on the 1st floor the shophouse

Entered the shop... and there was actually a long queue and the restaurant is packed!
The customers were from all nationalities - French, Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean (i.e. myself), etc.
Its great that Ramen is being appreciated by so many nationalities.

Packed!

The small restaurant has about 10 2-seater tables in front and a row of counter seats at the back.
With the queue and all, it was quite packed, and the service staff had trouble serving the food.
The owner seems to be a Japanese family - from the ramen chef to the cashier and waitress, they all looked Japanese.

As usual, I ordered their basic, Shoyu Ramen (7.50 Euro), as a test of the store.

Ramen a la sauce de soja! (in French)

I wonder how the French pronounces the word "ramen", as the r-sound is this deep throat / air sound....

Back to the ramen... it was very decent and good!
The ramen is topped with 2 large pieces of char siew (porc roti in French on the menu...), some leafy vegetable and Menma. The presentation was good. The porc roti was tender. The soup too was clear and tasty. Not bad at all for a ramen in Paris.

The price wasn't that bad too, as other restaurants serving French food along St Honore will definitely set you back more than 7.50 Euros.

The overall experience was good (because I was so happy to find ramen in Paris!), except for the fact that the service staff was in a irritated mode and was a little rude. I guess it was because the shop was so bustling and they were crazily handing the crowd and the order.

If you are in Paris and are craving for ramen while shopping along St Honore, this is the place you might want to visit.
It is also quite near to the Louvre.


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Ramen Data - Sapporo Ramen @ Rue St Honore, Paris
Address: 276 Rue Saint Honore, Paris, France
Types: Shoyu, Shio, Miso
Price: 7.5 - 9 Euro
Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tampopo (たんぽぽ) @ Ngee Ann City

Tampopo has finally opened its 2nd outlet at Ngee Ann City!

There were are few times that I wanted to go to Tampopo, but dropped the plan instead because Liang Court was a bit out of the way. With another option in Orchard, its much more accessible now.

Back to Tampopo, its 2nd store is at B2, taking up the previous location of Pepper Lunch.



The Ngee Ann City outlet is more modern & bright compared to the Liang Court outlet. The decor is coordinated in light wood color which is quite pleasant.



And of course, the purpose of my visit is to eat its ramen!

I ate the Black Pig Shabu Ramen (S$13.8), which is the signature ramen of Tampopo. It was nominated as one of the top 10 ramen on ST's Lifestyle page a while ago.

Red & White!

The chili flakes floating all over the ramen made it look very spicy! But in fact its not that scary.

Belonging to the Kyushu style, the ramen is made from pork bone soup which is said to have been boiled for 2 days. The noodles are thin and hard, but I think the noodle of most Kyushu ramen should be even thinner and harder. Toppings are menma, spring onion and of course thin slices of black pork.

Yummy!

On closer look at the ramen, I found that the noodles are neatly put in to the bowl. You can see that the streaks of noodles are all going in the same direction. I do see that being done in some ramen shops in Japan and I was impressed... great to see that being done in Singapore too! Thats call sophistication.

Nice, isn't it?

All in all, the ramen tasted good, but its not something that wow-ed me. The black pork shabu slices when eaten with the noodles and soup didn't quite stand out... maybe it will be better if they change it to char siew slices made from black pork?

But Tampopo offers much more than ramen too - you can have sashimi, tonkatsu, etc etc here. Prices are very reasonable too for the quality that it is providing. I'm sure it will be a restaurant that I will come back again when I have a craving for Japanese food!


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Tampopo @ Ngee Ann City
Address: B2 Ngee Ann City (Near Crystal Jade), Orchard Road
Types: Kyushu Ramen, Hokkaido Ramen
Price: $13.3 - 15.3
Rating: 7/10

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Santouka (山頭火) - Central

This week's expedition brings me to Santouka (山頭火) at Central, Clarke Quay.
One of my favourite ramen chains in Singapore as well as Japan!

Entrance of Santouka @ Central

Clean and neat interior

According to Santouka's website, Santouka was started in 1988, after the founder was inspired by a Japan movie "Tampopo" (which is a comedy about how a ramen stall rises from its low). Coincidentally I happened to watch it too many years ago at the Picturehouse! It brings back nostalgic memories...

Despite being originated from Asahikawa, Santouka's style is totally different from that of Aoba or Baikohken. Santouka is famous for its Shio Ramen ($13.5) and its Pork Toro Ramen ($19.5).

Shio Ramen

What characterises Santouka's ramen is its white soup and its ingredients.

The white soup is made based on a mix of pork bone, vegetables and seafood soups that are separately boiled at a suitable temperature for each type of soup. It also makes sure that the temperature of the soup is not too hot for eating and that the salt content is low, so that the customers can finish up till the last drop.

And what I like is the ingredients of its ramen and its presentation. In addition to menma and onion, it has some unusual toppings like black fungus, naruto (fish cake) and a small blob of sour plum. The colour of the ingredients contrast so well with the white soup, making the ramen so appetising! It looks so refined and sophisticated. The mix of ingredients also gives different experiences when you eat them.

Pork Toro Ramen

Moving on to the pork toro ramen. The pork toro, which is actually roasted pork cheeks, is a limited delicacy as there are only 200-300g of that for every pig. The texture is different from the normal char siew - you can see the strands of muscle when you look closely at it. It is roasted to perfection as well and it just melts in your month when you eat it! Yummy!

Pork Toro - close up!

Another thing that I like about Santouka is its interior - it is clean and simple, and it plays soothing Jazz music too! Jazz and ramen may not sound as if it will gel, but as a lover of both, I feel very relaxed and at home.

The only grumble is that it is slightly expansive - after the ++, the pork toro ramen costs about $21.7, which is close to 1400 yen. The same costs 1200 yen in Japan. Not sure what makes the pricing in Singapore higher?

But the food & ambiance are definitely great! I'll be back!!


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Ramen Santouka - Central
Address: #02-76, The Central
Types: Shio, Shoyu, Miso, Pork Toro Ramen
Price: $13.5-20.5
Rating: 9/10

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Amazing Instant Ramen Youtube Channel

I was watching "Amazing Asia" on ChannelNewsAsia today, and they reported this amazing Japanese guy who operates a YouTube channel on just instant noodles!

http://www.youtube.com/user/tontantin

From the serial number of the video, it appears that he has reported over 4000 types of instant ramen.... yours truly here still has a long way to go!

Tontantin gives a comprehensive review of the instant noodle, from the shape of the container, the noodle, the soup to the ingredients and the indicative cooking time. He also gives his personal opinion and a score to each ramen he tries.

He reported our home-grown Koka noodles too! He gave our Singapore Fried Noodles flavour a 2.5 out of 5.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7uYflRNzT9g

Its interesting to observe how he makes his instant ramen - always with cabbage and sausages!

All I can say its amazing! It really shows his love and respect to instant ramen.
It will be better if we can see at a glance which are his recommendations.... most of his collection that I went through are all in the range of 2-3 stars out of 5.
And I'm a bit worried about his health... we are always told since young that its not healthy eating instant noodles.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Menya Kaiko (麺屋 開高) - Ion Orchard

Riding on the ramen craze here in Singapore (is there one? haha), there is another ramen stall called Menya Kaiko (麺屋 開高) from Japan that landed in Singapore, in the Ion Food Hall, B4 of Ion Orchard!

Stall exterior

Googled a little and confirmed that the source is really from Hokkaido. Kaiko has several stalls there in a city call Obihiro, as well as inside the New Chitose Airport that you will fly into if you visit Sapporo.

The Japanese ramen chef greeted me with a smile and an "irrashaimase", and asked if I want to try his ramen.

But because I already had my lunch at Aoba, I didn't manage to have the stomach to try Menya Kaiko as well. Zannen! Next time!

Kaiko serves hokkaido-style ramen (i.e. miso based) with pork and/or chicken toppings and price ranging from $12-16.80. What jumps out from the menu is this King Crab Ramen which costs $29.8! From the sample, falf a king crab is submerged in the ramen soup. The price is a little steep to try though unless a big bonus is coming (not in this economic climate...).

Will do my reporting another time!


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Menya Kaiko - ION Orchard
Address: B4, ION Orchard
Types: Hokkaido Ramen (miso)
Price: $12-16.8, King Crab Ramen $29.8

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Aoba Hokkaido Ramen (らぅめん青葉) - Ion Orchard

Went to the newly-opened Ion Orchard today to see what is in this new mall at the prime space of Orchard Road. And there it is, the new outlet of Aoba Hokkaido Ramen!

The long queue...

The queue was about 15pax long, I waited for about 15mins before I can get in. It was one of the more popular restaurants in Ion.

Rather than residing inside a food court like environment, it is a standalone outlet by itself. Compared to the Tampines 1 outlet in Manpuku, the menu here has much more side dishes and is more restaurant-like. In Japan most standalone ramen outlets' menu are basically ramen plus 2-3 more side dishes... guess its a way that these companies are adapting to Singaporean's eating style.

The interior is comfortable with a warm, wooden feel. Quite like the wooden boxes that are made into ceiling lights.



Tried the Miso Char Siew Ramen ($13.8) today.



The miso-based soup was light with both the pork & seafood double flavour, true to Aoba's style. Its good, but somehow I felt that the fish flavour is stronger this time round. The egg here is not hard-boiled (maybe the previous bowl in Tampines was a mistake?) - it is the proper flavoured egg with the egg yoke still soft and half-cooked. It is great that they actually serve 2 halves of the aji-tama! Overall its a good bowl of ramen and I'm satisfied.

I ordered a side dish of karaage (fried chicken, $5.80) too to see how the quality of the food is like.

6pc chicken karaage

As an opening promotion, some of the side dishes such as the karaage are on 50% off until 31 July 2009, so it only costs $2.80 now. The karaage is hot and crispy on the outside, quite delicious.

They are also selling their Zuwai Kani (crab) ramen at $16.80 from a usual price of $19.80. For those who like crab, its a good chance to try it during this promotional period.

Glad to know that there is a new place in Orchard that I can go to have my fix of ramen now!


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Aoba Hokkaido Ramen - ION Orchard
Address: #B3-25, ION Orchard
Types: Shoyu, Shio, Miso
Price: $11-20
Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Marusuke Ramen (三代目(助)) in Shinjuku

This week's ramen expedition brings me to my favourite Tokyo!

I'm in Tokyo for a leisure trip, and how can I miss this chance to seek out good ramen stalls?

This time, I went to this stall call "Sandaime Marusuke" (三代目(助)) in Shinjuku. Marusuke is constantly on the list of top 10 ramen stalls in Tokyo, offering excellent tonkotsu ramen.

Marusuke, neat Japanese style entrance

Its only about 5 mins away from Isetan Shinjuku, so it is quite convenient to pop by after doing some shopping in Shinjuku. However, it is tucked in a corner of an office / residential building without a large signboard, so it may take some effort to find for a first timer.

The interior of the stall is simple but spacious and pleasant. It only has 1 row of counter seats facing the kitchen, with a hook behind each seat to hang one's coat during winter. On the far side of the room across the wall, Marusuke has written down instructions on how to eat its ramen. It is a Japanese attitude that I always respect - its attention to details right down to how the ramen should be eaten.

Stall interior

I ordered its standard specialty, white ramen (白らぅめん, 670yen). And in this stall, we can specify the thickness of the soup and how well we want the noodle to be done, in 3 levels.

Customised to our taste!

Marusuke recommends "thick" for the soup and "hard" for the noodles. As I'm visiting the stall for the first time, I went along with the recommendation.

White ramen

The ramen is a simple one topped with seaweed, a large piece of char siew, onion and black fungus. The tonkotsu soup is excellent!! It is thick, creamy and full of flavour. But it is not too salty that you can't drink too much. In fact, I finished all the soup! The noodle used is straight & narrow noodle, which gives a large surface area for the tasty soup to cling on to.

Following the eating instruction written on the wall, after finishing half the bowl, I added two types of pickle vegetable takana (高菜) and red ginger (紅しょうが) to top the ramen.

Takana and Red Ginger

The spicy takana added more taste to the soup and gave it a different flavour. By adding toppings to the ramen, you can have 2 types of experience with one bowl of ramen!

For those of you who will be visiting Tokyo soon, I strongly recommend you to have one of your meals at Marusuke. Its not too expansive but very satisfying. Compared to the price that you pay for a bowl of ramen in Singapore, at 670yen (about S$10.5), its more or less the same, but the quality is so much better.


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map


Ramen Data
- Sandaime Marusuke
Address:
新宿区新宿3-11-12 永谷テイクエイト1F
Types
: Tonkotsu
Price
: 670-800yen
Rating
: 9.5/10

Monday, June 29, 2009

The market rate of a bowl of ramen

Just read an interesting article (in Japanese...) about the market rate of a bowl of ramen in Japan.

According to the article, in a "retail price survey" published by the Japanese department of statistics in May 2009, an average bowl of ramen in Japan costs 588yen (about S$9). Comparing that to the average price of a plate of curry rice (755 yen, about S$11.5) and a sushi set (1358yen, about S$20.7), it is a cuisine with high cost performance.

Because the data might be skewed by the cheaper ramen chains, the author did another survey from a directory of the recommended ramen stores. The average came up to 754yen (S$11.5). As expected, it is higher than he average.

Some ramen industry insider in Japan said that the market rate of a bowl of ramen in Japan is usually pegged to the flagdown fare of a taxi. The flagdown fare is 710yen (S$10.8) now, proving the theory right!

Being a ramen walker in Singapore, I've done up the Singapore figures too.

With 8 data points of the ramen places that I've been too, the average price of the "non-chain" ramen store is S$11.4 for the most basic bowl of ramen.

This is almost the same as that for Japan! What a coincidence.
But the flagdown fare for the taxis in Singapore is S$2.8... so a bowl of ramen is about 4 times that.

With the higher manpower cost in Japan, I guess we are paying a slight premium if the ramen costs the same here compared to Japan.

But interestingly, if we peg it to the wonton mee / ban mian at hawker center, we can draw the Singapore version of the analogy too! I have not done a proper research but I think the average price is about $3.

An interesting discovery for today.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Baikohken (梅光軒) Singapore

My ramen expedition this week brings me to Baikohken (梅光軒) at Raffles Place.
Wanted to visit this place for a long time and its great that I finally got to try it.

Baikohken Singapore

Shop Interior - waiters dressed in uniforms!

Baikohken comes from Asahikawa, and it one of the famous ramen stalls in the city. Started some 40 years ago, it won the top prize in the "Asahikawa Ramen Award". Currently, Baikohken has 6 outlets, and the Singapore outlet was their first overseas foray! We are quite privileged to have them here!

Baikohken's ramen is typical Asahikawa style, made with double animal-based and fish-based soup as well as medium chijire noodles.

I tried the standard Shoyu Ramen ($12), keeping my policy of trying the store's most basic item.

Shoyu Ramen

Two things about Baikohken's ramen that stood out are the giant menma (Japanese bamboo shoot) and char siew! The size of the menma and char siew gives them a very good texture when you eat it, Both are tasty too! The char siew especially is tender and falls apart when you put it in your mouth.

Giant Menma!

On further research, the giant menma and char siew are actually a signature of Baikohken's style. Baikohken also prides itself on the 100% company-made chijire noodles, which contains no additives and egg, making it safe for people with allergies to eat.

Something interesting about the Singapore store also is that it has a very clean toilet :P

For those restaurants that are in a shophouse in Singapore, my impression is always that the toilet is wet and dirty. But for Baikohken its different. The entrance to the toilet has a little Japanese stone garden and a pond releasing a mist. The toilet itself is very cleanly maintained and spacious too. This gives an excellent "total experience"!

The only complaint that I might have that the store is a little hot.

Overall, the food was great and the overall experience was good too. Its attention to details such as the noodle, menma, char siew and even the toilet is truly Japanese. I recommend this especially for those who likes char siew (and menma)!

In addition to its 3 stores in Hokkaido (2 x Asahikawa and 1 x Sapporo), you can also find Baikohken in Tokyo (Shinjuku Lumine Est 7F) and Hakata. I've marked Baikohken's Asahikawa outlet in my Ramen map.


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map


Ramen Data
- Baikohken (Singapore Branch)
Address:
7 North Canal Road
Types
: Asahikawa Ramen (double soup with Shoyu/Shio/Miso flavours)
Price
: $12-17.5
Rating
: 7.5/10

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Ramen Zun-dou (らーめん家本舗 ずん・どう) at Isetan Hokkaido Fair

I went to the Isetan supermarket in Orchard, and found that they are having the Hokkaido Fair now.

The word "Hokkaido" can really pull in the crowd... the supermarket was jam packed with little space to walk. But the food looks really good! There are crabs, seafood chawan mushi, cakes, etc etc. So tempted to buy a few things from there.

Anyway, back to the my main topic, a ramen stall names Zun-dou (らーめん家本舗 ずん・どう) has an outlet in this Hokkaido Fair too. I've seen them coming to Singapore a few times for the past Hokkaido Fair. They are here to sell their frozen-packed ramen from their stall.

Zundou Ramen (for 2), in Shoyu, Shio and Miso flavours

As an inquisitive ramen eater, I went on googling a little on who their background

Zundou comes from a city call Hakodate (函館) of Hokkaido. Its specialty is Shio Ramen, which is what Hakodate is famous for.

Whats more, Sundou has been voted as one of the top 10 ramen stalls in Hokkaido! Didn't know that its so famous. I was staying in Tokyo so I'm not that familiar with the stalls up north.

Will try to grab a packet before the Hokkaido Fair ends. And in the same fair, there is also a stall that sells char siew and marinated egg for the ramen!

The Hokkaido Fair will end on 29 Jun in Isetan Orchard, thereafter it will move to Isetan Tampines from 3-12 July.

You can see how the ramen at Zundou looks like at Zundou's website.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jiro Ramen (ラーメン二郎)

Want to write a little about a type of ramen call Jiro ramen that I ate the other day at Menya Shinchan.

I've heard a lot about a style of ramen call Jiro many times when I was studying in Tokyo, but somehow never tried it. My impression then was that...

It has HUGE servings!

Because I'm not a big eater I dare not venture down that path....
But my big-eater classmate loves it! He was telling me fondly about the long queue of hungry guys lining up for it, and how you can skip a meal after eating one.

Back to Jiro, I did some searching over the net about it after having my first encounter...

Jiro Ramen originated from a ramen stall Ramen Jiro that is located in Mita of Tokyo. Its characteristics are:

1) Its GIANT serving!
2) Uses Shoyu-Tonkotsu Soup Base, and comes with a generous layer of lard on top
3) Uses thick noodles
4) Topped with a pile of fried vegetables (cabbage and bean sprout) and char siew
5) Eaten with chopped garlic

Due to its distinct style, Ramen Jiro has built up for itseful a strong following, with its lovers calling themselves "Jiro-rean" (c.f. Singaporean).

Many stalls under the name Ramen Jiro have also been opened in Tokyo, mainly by fans who love it so much that they want to set up a stall by themselves to spread the goodness. Its really a cult following like Apple!

For the benefit of those visiting Tokyo and would like to try out the real thing, here's where it is.
It is actually just outside the main gate of Keio University, the No.1 private university in Japan.

A normal bowl of ramen costs only 600yen, and a large double char-siew ramen is just 850yen. I'm sure we can get our money worth!

Ramen Jiro - Mita (Original Stall)
2-16-3, Mita, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Nearest Metro station - Mita (三田) on Toei Mita Line (都営三田線)


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Friday, June 12, 2009

Menya Shinchan - Pumpkin Ramen

Tried the Pumpkin Ramen ($15) at Menya Shinchan today.

Pumpkin Ramen

A limited-period only creation by Menya Shinchan, I wanted to try it very much after my visit last week.
Pumpkin with ramen, sounds like a strange combination, but I gotta try it!

The soup is a creamy pumpkin soup, similar to what will be served at a western restaurant. It is amazing that the soup, which is sweet due to the pumpkin taste, went along very well with the noodles! The noodles used are narrow straight noodles, which provide more surface area for the soup to coat the noodles. Topped with chars siew, fried bean sprout and 1/2 an egg, it is quite an amazing blend of ramen and western soup.

Still have to say that its the ramen stall in Singapore that I like most. Its creative for the owner to come up with such a fusion. It shows that the spirit of innovation is still in him.

The pumpkin ramen is only available until 31 Aug 2009, so go down and have it while its available!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Menya Shinchan (麺屋しんちゃん)

Went to my favourite ramen place in Singapore over the weekend, Menya Shinchan.

Menya Shinchan, exterior

Tucked away in an alley in Robertson Quay, the store is quite hard to find.
It is on the left side while you walk towards the river from the open space where the bars / restaurants are at.

Menya Shinchan is set up by a Japanese businessmen, who quit his job as an expatriate to pursue what he loves - ramen!
The tag line for Menya Shinchan is" ラーメンは芸術だ", meaning "Ramen is an art". Something that I identify with very much too! A good ramen stall will look into everything from the source of ingredients, the soup composition and the water content of the noodles. So sophisticated!

Anyway, back to ramen, I tried their signature ramen Shinjiro Ramen (新次郎ラーメン) ($13) today.
If you cravings for vegetables and ramen at the same time, this is the place for you!!

Shinjiro Ramen!!

This is originated from the Jiro-style ramen in Tokyo, which I'll probably write more in detail in my future blog entry.

The soup is a tonkotsu shoyu soup, with a generous layer of lard on top to keep the soup hot. Without doubt, its very tasty! The noodles are thick chijire noodles. Topped with a mountain of fried cabbage + bean sprout and juicy pieces of char siew.

The volum is HUGE, and I advise that you should have a very empty stomach before taking this. I couldn't finish even it was very good. Its just huge!

It comes with additional garlic and sauce for the vegetable that you can add to your liking.

Seasoning

Menya Shinchan has a large variety of ramen, including tan tan men and tsuke men, and is also innovative in developing new ramens too. Would love to visit this again to try something new next time!


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Menya Shinchan
Address: 30 Robertson Quay, #01-05 Riverside View
Types: Tonkotsu, Fish stock
Price: $11-15
Rating: 9/10

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Menya Manpei (麺や万平)

Checked out the a new ramen shop recently in Iluma at Bugis call Menya Manpei (麺や万平).

Menya Manpei resides inside a Japanese marche-like concept call Ebisboshi Shotengai (another one?), which contains Tsubohachi (A large Japanese Izakaya chain) and other stalls selling tonkatsu, shabu-shabu (+ french maid) and sushi.

Menya Manpei Stall

On the menu, it is written that Menya Manpei serves Sapporo ramen, and its specialty is its tonkotsu soup that is made from pork and chicken bones boiled for more than 16 hours. It is supposed to have come from Hokkaido, but I couldn't find any information of it from Google. Maybe I'll sent in an enquiry to the company to ask.

Back to the ramen, I ordered their specialty Sapporo Tonkotsu Miso Ramen ($12.9), marked "激旨" meaning "ultra-delicious" on the menu.

Sapporo Tonkotsu Miso Ramen

First impression, the presentation of the ramen could be much better. The ingredients are places quite randomly in the bowl, so different from the photo in the menu. The char siew is sinking in the soup. I really think that the notion of "presentation" is still not entrenched in people preparing food here in Singapore.

Then I took a sip of the soup. The taste is quite ok but personally I prefer the miso tonkotsu soup to be thicker. The temperature of the soup can also be hotter. The rest of the ramen is ok too - the char siew is quite tender and the noodles ok.

In general, it is not a ramen that "wow"ed me, but it was reasonably ok.

Because it is inside a marche-like place, Menya Manpei offers a mini version of the ramen so that you can try other things too. A mini tonkotsu miso will cost you $7.8.

According to the menu its side dish "Pork Belly Don" is also supposed to be good. Will try that another time.


View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Menya Manpei
Address: 4F, Iluma @ Bugis, inside Ebisboshi Shotengai
Types: Tonkotsu with miso, shio, shoyu
Price: $7-9 (for mini ramen) and $12-14 (for full size ramen)
Rating: 6.5/10
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