Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ikkousha - 2011 Ultimate Ramen Champion!

After a year of operation, the winner of the Ramen Champion project is finally decided!

A media event was held on 7 August to announce the winner as well as the next phase of the project. I was invited to the event too, but unfortunately I'm overseas and have to give a miss to this wonderful opportunity to witness the winner and get to know the ramen community in Singapore.

The winner of 2011 Ramen Champion is.... (drum roll)

IKKOUSHA (一幸舎)!!

It was reported that Ikkousha topped the competition, selling 100,531 bowls of ramen in the past year. No. 2 is Bario, who sold 65,529 bowls. The difference is pretty huge. Wonder how were the sales of the rest of the concepts.

(Note: Their normal ramen costs $13, so their sales over the year would be about S$1.3mil just for the small stall! Is that consider a lot?)

I didn't have the time to blog about Ikkousha, but I have eaten it many times. Personally I liked Toyama Black best, but Ikkousha will be my number two. Its tonkontsu soup is tasty but not too heavy, unlike the other stalls in Ramen Champion that people might find them slightly too salty.

The result reinforced the type of ramen that Singaporeans tend to like - Tonkotsu! We already have Santouka and Ippudou that is widely popular in Singapore, and now Ikkousha is crowed the ramen champion.

Where there is a winner there is a loser. Of the first batch of Ramen Champion stalls, 2 of them, Tetsu and Gensuke, and  will not be continuing on for the next year. While the soup of Tetsu was good, I personally does not quite like eat tsukemen because the soup tends to get cold fast. Maybe many Singaporean felt the same. For Gensuke, I have not been there before. It seems that it is supposed to be a Halal ramen concept created by Ikkousha using chicken broth. Perhaps the ramen crazy has not caught up within the Muslim community in Singapore?

The next phase of Ramen Champion will commence from 7 Aug 2012 to 30 Jul 2013 with a total of 8 brands. The 2 new entrants are:

Menya Aoyama (麺屋 青山) - A tonkotsu ramen stall with its specialty being its ajitama egg. The egg seems to be marinated in seasoned fresh cream

Taka no Tsume (鷹の爪) - A stall with its specialty in spicy ramen. "Taka no Tsume", or the eagle's claw, is also the name of a type of chili in Japan that is known for its hotness. Something like our chili padi in Southeast Asia.

Seems that they have brought in 2 concepts to suit Singapore's palate - Tonkotsu and Chili ramen.

Another interesting finding is that these 2 ramen stalls seems to be related to a company in Japan called Menya Kouji Group (麺屋こうじ), that is responsible for producing a group of ramen stalls in Japan. The CEO of Menya Kouji Group, Tashiro Koji, seems to be also the COO of Komars Group, the company behind Ramen Champion in Singapore. Mr Tashiro himself have been trained as a ramen chef under Taishoken, and have opened several successful ramen shops in Japan. It is fun when the dots connect!

I will not be able to try these ramen in Singapore, so please share with me your comments if you have tried them? I will also try to make my way to their stall in Japan... although both are a little far in Chiba prefecture.

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