Sunday, February 28, 2010

RamenPlay (拉面玩家)- 313@Somerset

This week's ramen expedition brings me to the recently opened RamenPlay(拉面玩家) at 313@Somerset.

Queue!

RamenPlay is a joint venture between Singapore's F&B giant Breaktalk Group and Japan's Niigata-based ramen chain Sanpo Group. Sanpo's chains are mainly situated in north-eastern Japan but not in Tokyo, so I have yet to try its ramen there.

Modern and warm interior

The restaurant at 313@Somerset was pretty spacious. The kitchen can be viewed through a large glass panel, and you can have a very good view of what is happening inside if you were seated at the counter seats (which I did, to check out how they make the ramen).

RamenPlay's menu does not just consist of Ramen. Similar to Aoba, it most probably is adapted to become a casual dining concept with a full menu of side dishes and drinks.

I ordered their signature Sanpo Tonkotsu Ramen ($14.8). It boasts 3 types of pork toppings: Toroniku (pork cheek), Char Siew and Kakuni (braised pork belly). Maybe thats why its called Sanpo (三宝 = 3 treasures).

Quite interesting to note that this ramen seems not to be a signature dish of Sanpo in Japan. Not exactly listed on their website.


Hmm... I must say that my first impression wasn't good. The presentation is a far cry from what the menu promises. Its a pity that the 3 types of treasures were sinking in the soup. Looking at how the kitchen staff were handing the toppings, I guess I know why.

For comparison...

The taste of the ramen was also just ok. The toroniku, compared to Santouka's, was of course not as good. The Char Siew and Kakuni was reasonable. The noodles was pretty bouncy and matched the soup. All in all, it was decent but just ok. Maybe I went with a great expectation as it is operated by Breadtalk.

I may come to try it again to see how the other ramen fair, but as of now it won't be high up on my list of ramen list. Hope that Breadtalk will turn this around with its usual sophistication, and really play up the details, true to the spirit of RamenPlay.


View Ramen Walker's Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - RamenPlay @ 313@Somerset
Address: 313 Orchard Road, #B3-04/06, 313@Somerset
Types: Various (Specialty: Sanpo Tonkotsu Ramen)
Price: S$12-15
Rating: 6.5/10

Monday, February 8, 2010

Santouka - Awaseaji Ramen

Visited Santouka over the weekend.
And to my pleasant surprise, they have a new item on the menu, Awaseaji Ramen (あわせ味らーめん, $14)! Supposedly a limited-edition item.

As its Japanese name implies, its soup is a mix of different flavours: Shio, miso, soy sauce, not forgetting its tonkotsu base. It is served with an additional bowl of rice, some pickles and a cup of tea.


From the poster inside Santouka, it is said that this ramen was borne out of its "internal menu". Such dishes are usually served among the restaurant's staff, using leftover ingredients that otherwise would have gone to waste. As those eating the dish are themselves professionals, some of these dishes are quite creative and tasty, and eventually dished out as a regular item on the menu.

I guess someone in Santouka might be playing round with the soups!

Close up...

Back to the ramen, it is topped with 2 pieces of toroniku char siew, 2 halves of aji-tama, mizuna, leek and some chili flakes. Presentation of Santoka's ramen is always perfect... I especially like how the chili flake added accent to the ramen both to its colour and taste. The toroniku char siew is tender and juicy as usual. The soup was interesting in a sense that you can taste all the 4 tastes - but it made it a little lack of focus perhaps.

After I finished all the noodles, I added in the rice, mixed them around a little to enjoy the soup in a different way.

looks like congee!

An interesting way to experience the ramen soup. The rice soaks up the soup and it was delicious. However, because the soup turns cold after a while, it didn't taste as nice near the end. Maybe I'm used to eating hot congee.

Last but not least, it seems that Santouka will be opening a 2nd outlet in April at Cuppage Terrace! Good news for Santouka fans!
More and more ramen choices along Orchard Road going forward.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Menya Shinchan - Vegetable Potage Ramen

Menya Shinchan has a new iten on its menu - Vegetable Potage Ramen!

ベジポタ (Vege-Pota)

Vetegable Potage Ramen, or Vege-Pota (ベジポタ) in short in Japanese, is the new ramen style that is increasingly gaining popularity in Japan. It is made by first mashing up several types of vegetables such as potato, onion etc in a mixer into a paste form, or the "vegetable potage". It is then added into the ramen soup, making the soup thicker so that it will cling better onto the noodle, and at the same time adds more flavour to the soup.

Menya Shinchan is quick to pick up this trend and launched it own Vege-Pota Ramen ($14). I think its the first ramen shop in Singapore to do this. Outstanding!
And indeed true to its motto of ramen being a continuous evolving pursuit.

Menya Shinchan's vege-pota ramen comes with pork bone and seafood soup. In addition to toppings such as char siew, been sprouts, cabbage, onion and aji-tama, there is also topped with a ball of miso paste. You can experience the soup in 2 ways - first sipping the soup by itself, and then mix in the miso paste to add the miso flavour.

A note of caution: this ramen is for those who like it real thick and strong. The noodle picks up quite a lot of the potage soup, so you will feel more of the soup's taste when you eat the noodle. There is an aftertaste of the vegetables after it too. However, I felt that the thickness condenses the taste of the soup too, making it pretty strong and salty, especially after the miso ball is mixed in. So those who don't like it too salty might not like this ramen.

However, so far in Singapore, Menya Shinchan in the only place that you can try this new style of ramen that is getting hot in Japan now. If you are a ramen fan and want to try the latest trend without going to Japan, this is definitely for you.
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