Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kusabi (くさび) - Tokumaru Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen

This week's ramen adventure brings me to Kusabi at Central, the latest edition to Singapore's ramen scene.

... taking over Kyoto Sabo’s space

Kusabi (くさび) comes from the Fukushima prefecture of Japan, about 2 prefectures north of Tokyo. It is a relative unknown prefecture in Singapore, but from the ramen world, it is home to one of the famous ramen styles call Kitaka Ramen (喜多方らーめん). But Kusabi does not serve ramen of that style.

The word "Kusabi" means "a wedge" in Japanese, which is a tool that is used to fill up a gap, and it is what the store hopes that its ramen will do. Kusabi was voted as the #5 ramen places in Fukushima prefecture in the 2008 Yahoo Japan ramen ranking. But it seems that it has slipped off the ranking in 2009.

The interior is brightly-lit, clean and neat. The staff were friendly and polite too, most probably trained in the Japanese way by the owner. Something that I found interesting was the chopsticks that it uses. The tip is made in such a way that the noodles doesn't slip by having grooves at the front of the chopsticks.

Spiral groove

Kusabi serves tonkotsu-based ramen with shoyu, miso or fish oil. Its also serves dipped noodles (tsuke-men, or つけめん), which boasts a 1.5 times serving of noodles, as well as a series of ultra-spicy (Gekikara, or 激辛) noodles, with 3 levels of spiciness to choose from.

A key selling point of Kusabi that is different from other ramen places seems to be the use of fish powder (魚粉/魚節, or Gyofun). Made from fish flakes (e.g. bonito flakes) crushed into power form, here in Kusabi it is kneaded into the noodles and concocted into fragrant oil to add a seafood / fish flavour into the noodles. Especially for the noodles, the taste that is kneaded into it is supposed to seep out and enrich the taste of the soup, creating a different taste as you progress in your ramen. It is the only place in Singapore that offers this type of noodles now, but in Japan it seems that several other ramen shops use this technique too.

I tried the first item on the menu, the Marutoku Shoyu Tonkotsu Ramen ($19), which is actually a set with a bowl of ramen and an extra set of toppings.

The ramen is topped with a generous amount of shredded leak and chopping onions, as well as char siew, seaweed and bamboo shoot. The extra serving of toppings include 2 halves of aji-tama, 4 large pieces of char siew, seaweed and bamboo shoot.

The tonkotsu shoyu soup is well-made, with the right saltiness and flavour that I like. I slurped in a mouthful of noodles, and indeed there is a slight fish flavour that comes with it. As I progress through the ramen, I tried to sense if the taste of the soup changed ... but I guess my tongue is not sensitive enough!!

I tried its gyoza ($6) too. It was large and juicy with a lot of fillings. Not bad.

All in all I had a good experience at Kusabi and would like to go back again to try the other flavours and some of its signature side dishes such as the Pork-wrapped Rice Ball and the Nita-rice ball. Its a store worth trying, and next time I'm in Central, there is another choice that I can choose from in addition Santouka and Marutama.

View Ramen Walker's Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Kusabi @ Central at Clarke Quay
Address: 6 Eu Tong Seng Street, #01-68/69, The Central @ Clarke Quay
Types: Tonkotsu
Price: S$13.5 - S$19
Rating: 8/10


  1. Hi Ramen Walker, Thank you for patronizing Kusabi and im glad that the services of our staffs and the food which were served to you had given you a good and positive experience.

    As Kusabi is only 2 weeks old in the Singapore Ramen Scene, we are always seeking improvements to cater to the needs of our customers.

    And not to mention that we also have a special lunch set menu, which consists of a Ramen (Shoyu, Miso, Uobushi) and a Side Dish (Char shiu Takikomi Gohan, Nikumaki Onigiri, Tori Soboro Don, Tori Teriyaki Chicken Don, Shougayaki Don) at only S$16.55 +++. Available from 11am - 3pm, Monday to Friday.

    Once again, we thank you for the positive feedback and it is our honour to have you come back to our restaurant once again.

    Thank you and have a great week ahead. - Kelvin Chua (Supervisor, Kusabi Restaurant @ The Central)

  2. Hi Kelvin,

    Thanks for visiting my blog, and will be visiting Kusabi soon to try out the other dishes. Will try to say hi to you too if its possible.

    Just to share as well that I've heard comments from my friends that the soup of the ramen was slightly lukewarm when they were there. I'm sure the shop is always seeking improvements, so please continue to keep up the good work! Have a great week ahead too.

  3. Hi Ramen Walker, sorry for the late late reply.

    I have already talk to the Japanese Chefs regarding the issues which your friends have encountered and i would like to take this opportunity to apologise on that. We are certainly working towards 110% customer satisfaction as not only to provide excellent service but the quality of our food as well.

    Thank you so much for your feedback.

    Oh, and we are having a 1 set promotion (Mini Salad + Shoryu Tonkotsu Ramen + Nikumaki Onigiri + Macha Ice Cream) for only S$15.50 NETT from 6th August 2010 to 19th August 2010. The promotion set will be available from 11.30am - 3.30pm, 6.30pm - 10pm Daily.

    I apologise if i am not allowed to link the write-out here but this is the website where you can read about it.

    Hope to see you and your friends soon!


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