Sunday, November 7, 2010

Keisuke Premium Tonkotsu Ramen @ Keisuke Tokyo

This week's ramen adventure brings me back again to Keisuke, because I was told that...

Keisuke's signature prawn ramen is gone!!

I made my way to Keisuke on a Saturday afternoon, and I noticed something was different.

The photo on the left was taken in March 2010 when Keisuke first opened, and the one on the right last Saturday. Can anyone spot the change?

left - in March, right - in October

Not that the center section of the door curtain was raised...
But, the logo of Keisuke has change!! From

"海老らーめん けいすけ" to "Ramen Dining けいすけ"

The reference of "prawn" was totally removed from the logo of the restaurant.
Thats a major change.
And when I looked at the menu, the reason was obvious.

Keisuke has done a complete overhaul of their menu, and there are no more prawn related items on the menu anymore. Not its signature prawn ramen, nor the prawn wanton, prawn gyoza, prawn fried rice.

The menu is now re-made into that of a typical ramen restaurant - having a spread of the conventional tonkotsu, shoyu, shio and miso ramens, with tonkotsu as its signature. The price range of its menu has also been significantly reduced - from offering its ramen from $14.8-20, it is now $11-14.8.

It might be reflecting Singaporean's liking in Tonkotsu ramen, which is the mainstream here now. It might also showed its rivalry with its same-floor neighbour Nanttutei, which offers tonkotsu ramen at such a price range, and always has a long queue outside.

I tried the new signature ramen, Keisukei Premium Tonkotsu Ramen ($14.8++).

Although its a new item, it retained Keisuke's DNA - its aesthetics. The ramen is visually pleasing - the red bowl and creamy broth is topped with pinkish char siew, green spring onion, blackish seaweed, yellow cheese, while cabbage and reddish-brown spicy minced meat paste.

You can choose the thickness of the tonkotsu soup - strong or light. I chose the strong one and it tasted rich and delicious. The char siew is large - took up almost 1/3 of the bow by a single piece - and is ham-like in its texture. The cheese topping melts when you soak it into the soup, and clings onto the noodles when you pick them up. The tonkotsu soup, cheese and noodle go amazingly well together. After finishing half a bowl, I mixed the spicy minced meat paste into the soup to create the 2nd taste. I've also added extra toppings of bean sprout and onion, which are placed on the table to be used.

seasoned bean sprout and fresh chopped onion

... took half of my wife's egg too

The soup is now more spicy, which I guess many Singaporean will like.

This visit to Keisuke is both poignant and happy. I was encouraged when Keisuke entered the market and tried to offer something differentiated. Its prawn ramen was sophisticated and well presented. The iconic bowl that it used now sits only as decoration on the shelves, and the staff is still wearing uniforms with the old logo. However, the market didn't accept it. It seems that Keisuke overhauled its menu because too many Singaporeans compared it with prawn mee.

On the other hand, I'm also glad that it has flexibly adapted to the market while not loosing its style. The ramen is still one of the most aesthetically pleasing and sophisticated among those in Singapore. It is also a sign that the ramen scene here is getting increasingly competitive, spurring players to change and adapt. We will see more good ramen shops coming our way.

With this change in menu, I recommend the ramen fans in Singapore to revisit them and try their ramen. I was personally satisfied, and will be making my way back to try the rest of the flavours :)
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