Sunday, January 31, 2010

Hakata Ramen

Does anyone remember where you might have seen the comic strip below?

Bingo! Its from the recently opened Ippudo @ Mandarin Gallery.

Not sure if anyone read what is written on the comic strip. But if you have time to do so, you will be interested to find that it is explaining about what Hakata Ramen (博多らーめん) is.

Ippudo is so kind to have it available in 3 languages (Japanese, English and Chinese)!

Hakata is the name of a city in the Kyushu region of Japan. The name of the city has since been called Fukuoka (福岡), which might be a name more familiar with everyone. Although the city is now called Fukuoka, the name of its Shinkansen station, which happens to be one of the end points of the Sanyo Shinkansen, is still called the Hakata station.

Back to the main topic of Hakata Ramen.

Hakata Ramen is characterised by its soup, noodles, as well as how it is eaten.

Soup - White pork-bone (tonkotsu) soup is used

Noodles- Narrow and straight noodles are used. This is for the noodles to pick up more soup with its larger surface area. It is also faster to cook them too.

How it is eaten -
1) It is common for a ramen shop selling Hakata Ramen to let the customer choose the hardness of the noodles according to one's likings.
2) There is also a practice of Kaedama (替え玉), meaning to order a second serving of noodles into the same bowl of soup. According to the comic, because the narrow noodles are fast to get soggy, the serving is usually kept small so that the noodles can be taken at it optimal hardness. The customer can then order a 2nd serving of noodles, at the right hardness, if he or she is still hungry.

Here is an example of a typical Hakata Ramen, from Sandaime Marusuke in Shinjuku.

Tonkotsu soup, narrow noodles

Ramen places in Singapore serving Hakata Ramen includes Ippudo and Yoshimaru Ramen.

In Japan, the best place to have Hakata Ramen is of course Hakata (Fukuoka) itself! One ramen chain worth mentioning that serves Hakata Ramen is 一蘭(Ichiran). I won't dwell too much into it, but in addition to its tasty ramen, it also has an unique ordering system and atmosphere that aims to keep you focused on the ramen.

There are a lot of ramen shops in Singapore that serves Hokkaido-style Ramen. There are, in fact, many more styles available in Japan. I'm glad that there are more variations, such as Ippudo, entering the Singapore market.

Will continue to introduce various ramens in my next post :)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin - Ion Orchard

This week's ramen expedition brings me to Ginza Bairin at Ion Orchard.

"Ginza Bairin? Isn't it a tonkatsu shop?" Some of you might say. I thought so too!
But when I walked past it today, I saw this banner outside their shop, with a new item on the menu.. tonkotsu ramen!

Of course I have to try it.

Extended Menu!

A little about Bairin - a well-known tonkatsu restaurant with a long history, Bairin was founded some 80 years ago in 1927. The founder established its name by breaking new grounds in for tonkatsu, such as "hitoguch (bite-size) katsu", tonkatsu sauce and katsu-sandwich. It has 3 outlets in Japan, 1 in Hawaii, and Singapore is its 2nd overseas location.

brightly-lit and neat

There are 2 ramen items on their menu - Tonkotsu Ramen ($10.8) or Tonkotsu Char Siew Ramen ($14.8). Bairin seems to have thought of expanding their menu along the theme of "pork". Its interesting to note that only this Singapore outlet serves ramen!

I ordered the latter to try.

Tonkotsu Char Siew Ramen

The ramen is topped with 3 pieces of char siew, a whole seasoned egg, black fungus and some spring onion. The noodle used is the normal straight noodles.

What stood out of this ramen is its char siew. It has to be good if they are running a tonkatsu restaurant, and they lived up to the expectation. The char siew was tender, juicy and tasty. They were big too, which makes it quite satisfying. The rest, e.g. soup and noodle, were not too bad.

All in all, I think I still prefer some of the other tonkostu ramen such as Menya Shinchan or Ippudo. But for those who likes char siew, this might be suitable too.

View Ramen Walker's Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Tonkatsu Ginza Bairin @ Ion Orchard
Address: 2 Orchard Turn, B4-39/40/41/42 Ion Orchard
Types: Tonkotsu
Price: S$10.8-14.8
Rating: 6.5/10

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy 2010! Ramen Survey

2010 is finally here!
Wishing all the readers of Ramen Walker a fantastic and delicious new year ahead.

Last year, I've conducted a mini ramen survey about my readers' favorite type of soup.
(located on the left bar of the blog)

And the top choice was ...

Tonkotsu! (75%)

It happens to be my favorite too. Great!

Tonkotsu won by a huge margin over the other traditional types such as Shoyu, Shio and Miso. Considering that both Tonkotsu and Miso are pretty salty soups, it seems that most of us prefer ramen that are salty/tasty rather than plain.

For 2010, I would like to do a survey of our favorite ramen place in Singapore!
Please cast your vote to decide on Singapore's No. 1!
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