Following my last visit to Ramen Champion, today's visit brings me to ...
Tetsu is one of the pioneers of tsukemen (dipped noodles) in Japan. While tsukemen was not new in the ramen scene, it used to be served cold - cold noodles served in cold soup - to be eaten in summer when the weather is too hot for a bowl of hot ramen. However, there are people (like me) who doesn't like soup cold. Started in 2005, Tetsu was one of the first ramen brands to serve tsukemen hot. Its popularity soon caused many to follow.
In a short 6 years, it has quickly expanded to about 10 outlets around Japan, including iconic locations such as Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, Landmark Tower in Yokohama and the station mall in Kyoto.
I ordered the "Very Rich Special Paitan Tsukemen", the standard item on their menu, plus an addition egg.
In Japan, they are famous for their rich seafood-tonkontsu soup, but I think they have modified their menu to cater to the Singapore crowd who might not like the seafood taste.
The thick dipping soup is made from chicken and tonkotsu soup, and a clear layer of oil coats the surface of the soup. Char siew, bamboo shoot and chopped leeks swimming inside the soup. Noodles used are normal, straight noodles.
I like the taste of the soup and it holds onto the noodles well. The char siew was also tender although I would hope for more. The part that I would hope that it can do better is the egg, which came fully cooked an not runny.
Half way into the noodles, the soup turned a little cold. And it is where you can try the first-of-its-kind service in Singapore, that is unique to Tetsu...
The hot stone! (焼き石)
You can approach the staff at the TETSU store to give you some "Yaki-ishi", and they will then deliver to you a piping-hot stone into your soup. It sizzles for about 5-10 seconds, transferring the heat into the soup. Your dipping soup is hot again now!
And when you are finished with the noodles, the experience is not done yet.
You can bring the soup to the TETSU counter again, and look for a thermal pot labeled "Dashi Soup". The purpose of the soup (made from bonito flakes I think) is to dilute the thick soup, so that you can down the delicious soup till its last drop. When diluted, the soup has an added seafood taste and the fragrance of katsuo.
All in all, the overall experience at TETSU was good. It was enjoyable eating the ramen, with the dipping, hot stone, dashi soup and all. It was slightly disappointing that the egg wasn't runny, and I personally think that they could bring in the bowls they use in Tokyo to Singapore too, just like Bario and other stores. It will make the noodle much more appealing, and reinforces their branding too. The shape of their bowl in Tokyo resembles the logo of Tetsu.
Ramen Data - Tsukemen TETSU @ Ramen Champion, Iluma
Address: 201 Victoria Street, 4F Iluma, Ramen Champion