Saturday, May 30, 2009

Aoba Hokkaido Ramen (旭川らぅめん青葉)

This week's ramen expedition brings me to Aoba Hokkaido Ramen @ Tampines 1 shopping mall.
I looked forward to trying it because it is said to be one of the famous ramen stalls from Asahikawa, Hokkaido.

Aoba is located in the Manpuku Japanese Gourmet Town on 3F. Manpuku itself is tucked in one corner and quite difficult to find. The concept is similar to Shokudo, but the stalls are all branded concepts from Japan.

Ramen Aoba counter at Manpuku

The basic of Asahikawa ramen is Shoyu. So I tried the Shoyu Corn Ramen (S$9.80)

Shoyu Corn Ramen

The ramen looks good! But because of the way that the chef placed the seaweed into the ramen, it is already totally soaked in the soup by the time I took it back to my table. The presentation could be improved.

Then I took a sip of the soup... the soup is excellent! One of the best soups that I have tasted before. The soup base is a mixture of pork and seafood stock, giving the soup very good flavour. And what is good about it is also that it is not too concentrated. The thickness / saltiness is just right and you won't get sick of drinking it.

I think that the portion of the ramen is made slightly smaller, so that our stomach will still have space to buy more food from other stalls inside Manpuku. Because of that, the price is also made slightly reasonable at $9.8 for a bowl.

The char siew is ok, and the egg is a normal hard-boiled egg but not the seasoned ones. It is not bad too considering the overall lightness of the ramen. The noodle absorbs the soup well and made it delicious too.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with Aoba's ramen! It is one of the rare times that I actually finished every last drop of the soup!


I recommend everyone to try this out. Very good quality!
I will definitely come back to try the other types of ramen.
It seems that the owner has created a type of spicy ramen to suit the Singapore palate.

If I'm not mistaken, they will be opening their standalone outlet later this year in Ion Orchard too. This will make it more accessible because I don't stay close to Tampines.

I've also added on my ramen map where you can find Aoba in Japan, for those who are going to Japan soon and would like to try the real thing!

View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Aoba Hokkaido Ramen - Tampines 1
Address: 3F, Tampines 1, Inside Manpuku Japanese Gourmet Town
Types: Shoyu, Shio, Miso
Price: $9-15
Rating: 8/10

In Japan (listing some...)
Head outlet: 北海道旭川市2条通8丁目2条ビル名店街1F
Asahikawa Ramen Village

Monday, May 25, 2009

Asahikawa Ramen

Santouka, Aoba, Baikohken.
What is the similarity between these 3 Japanese ramen shops in Singapore?
The answer is, all of them came from Asahikawa (旭川) in Hokkaido!

Located in northern part of Hokkaido, Asahikawa is a city famous for its ramen.
The characteristics of Asahikawa ramen are:

i) Uses a mix of pork bone and fish soup base with soy sauce tare
This is because Asahikawa city is located in a place that it is easy to obtain both ingredients from the mountains and the sea.

ii) The surface of the soup is coated with a layer of oil / lard
This is because the oil will prevent the soup from getting cold, something that people living the cold climate in Hokkaido will need.

iii) Uses chijire noodles with low water content
This is because the noodles will then better take in the soup.

Just like how culture mixes, Asahikawa ramen takes styles beyond the basic characteristics mentioned. For example, Santouka is famous because they were the shop that started selling ramen using Shio tare.

If you are going to Hokkaido and happen to visit Asahikawa, you can visit the following Ramen Village where you can find all the famous ramen brands under one roof!

Asahikawa Ramen Mura

There are many more styles of ramen to write about.... but whats more important is eating it! Will be going to try out Aoba soon... :P~~~

Friday, May 22, 2009

Noodle House Ken (麺処けん)

When I was trying to search for authentic ramen places in Singapore on the net, I came across this name "Noodle House Ken". Curious, I popped by for lunch a while ago.

The place is quite hard to find. It is hidden in the backlane in between the 2 blocks of Orchard Plaza, on the side closer to Orchard Point. Noodle House Ken occupies 2 small outlets across the escalator. Its business must be good to do so. The interior of the outlet is similar to that of an old ramen shop in Japan - slightly run-down, counter seats, etc.

Noodle House Ken prides itself in their specially prepared soup that is boiled for 8 hours and has no MSG (written on the menu).

I tried the Char Siew Ramen ($12) with shoyu-based soup. The char siew was very tender and it melts in your mouth, but unfortunately it does not have much taste. The soup is not bad, but personally I feel that it can have more depth.

Char Siew Ramen

Shop Interior

Ramen Data - Noodle House Ken
Address: #01-17/18, Orchard Plaza
Types: Shoyu, Shio, Miso, Cold Noodles
Price: $10-12
Rating: 6/10

View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

About Men

Another key part of the ramen is of course the men (めん), meaning noodles.
Please don't get the wrong idea!

Noodles is made from flour, water and egg (common sense?)
There are 2 basic types of noodles - Wavy noodles (Chijire Men, ちぢれめん) and straight noodles (Straight Men, ストレートめん).
Each type of noodle has varying thickness. So you will have for example medium chijire men or fine straight men.

Chijire men, being wavy in nature, is better is picking up the soup as compared to straight noodles. Because of that, it is mostly used in ramen that has soup that are milder, so that the noodle will pick up / absorb more soup for us to feel the taste.

On the other hand, straight men is usually used in ramen with a stronger soup base (e.g. miso, pork bone). Because the soup is already strong, it is sufficient for the noodle to just pick up a little of that.

From the type of noodles used in the ramen, you will be able to guess sometimes which part of Japan it originated from. For example, ramen from Hakata (Kyushu) ususlly uses super fine straight men, and that from Sapporo usually use medium chijire men.

Will write more about the characteristics of the different types of ramen later.

Till then, especially the ladies, enjoy the men!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Sapporo Ramen Miharu

For those you have been to Japan, I'm sure there are moments that you will just crave for a bowl of authentic ramen that you've eaten when you were there.
I always have that craving!
And frankly, once you've tried the real thing, its tough to fall back on Aj****.

There are limited number of places in Singapore that you can get authentic ramen. One of the most authentic ones that I often go to is Sapporo Ramen Miharu at the Gallery Hotel. This really brings back my memories of having ramen in Japan. Personally

You just know that its authentic when you see other Japanese eating there. They have also expanded beyond their first outlet to take up another unit in the hotel.

Sapporo is famous for its Miso ramen, so you should try their specialty Tokusen Miso Ramen. The soup is full of flavour, and I'm sure the chef spent hours making it. The gyoza there is good too!

Sapporo Ramen Miharu
Address: 1 Nanson Road, Ground Floor Gallery Hotel

View Singapore Ramen Map in a larger map

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ramen Soup = Tare + Soup Base

The soup is one of the most amazing part of Ramen.
There are so many different varieties of it, and the complexity and depth of its taste are what makes it interesting (and delicious!)

In fact, ramen soup usually comprises of 2 components.

1) Tare (タレ) - or the sauce
2) Soup base (スープ)

Ramen soup is made with first putting a scoop of sauce into the bowl, and then adding the soup base into it. The tare and soup base gives the soup its basic flavour that it is categorised as (e.g. Shoyu Ramen, Miso Ramen, etc).

Will go deeper into each component in my subsequent posts.

When you are at a ramen shop next time, you can try to observe how its made!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Singapore Ramen Map

As a part of sharing the joy of eating ramen with everyone, I've started to build up a Singapore Ramen Map a few days ago on Google Maps.

The link to the map is below.
You can find the link to it at the bottom right of this blog too.

As of now, there are only about 10 places that you can have relatively authentic ramen (i.e. excluding Ajisen) in Singapore. And the flags in my map concentrate mainly in the town area. But definitely I can see that Ramen is getting increasingly popular, and I'm sure my map will be populated with more outlets soon!

For example, I saw on last Sunday's ST that a branch of a famous Japanese Ramen chain Aoba will be opening in Ion Orchrad. Can wait to try their ramen here.

As my map is still in the beta phase, I welcome comments to make it better :)
I also plan to create a map of those ramen stores that I've been to in Japan to introduce to everyone the good places that you can go to when you are there for a trip.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Grand Opening!

My Ramen Blog opens today!

Having lived in Japan many years, I've grown to love ramen. I used to travel around Tokyo to seek out delicious ramen outlets and even queue up for an hour for a bowl. Watching the TV shows on how it is made, I'm always amazed by how much effort is being put into a bowl of ramen.

Because of that, I would like to start a blog to share with more people about ramen - where to get good ones, what are the different types of ramen, how to make them, etc etc. I hope to bring the joy of eating ramen to more people.

Quite busy with work all the time, but hope update it as much as I can.

Happy eating!
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