Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bario (バリ男) - Ramen Champion, Iluma

The ramen scene in Singapore as been quiet for a while with no new entrants, and I had some trouble looking for what to write.
But all of a sudden, 6 ramen champions descended onto Singapore at one go!

Taking over the previous location of a Japanese theme restaurant park Ebisuboshi-Shotengai, a ramen-only restaurant park called らーめんチャンピオン (Ramen Champion) opened on 1 July 2011, bringing into Singapore 6 renowned ramen stores from Japan. Such concepts are not uncommon in Japan - for example there is Tokyo Ramen Street at the Tokyo station and Ramen Museum in Yokohama. But having one in Singapore is another thing. I'm not sure is this the first of its kind outside of Japan.

The 6 ramen stores in Ramen Champion are Taishoken (大勝軒), Gantetsu (がんてつ), Bario (バリ男), Tetsu, Iroha (いろは) and Ikkousha (一幸舎). They came from different parts of Tokyo and have a good mix of styles, such as shoyu, tonkotsu, miso or dipped-noodles. They have respectively won many accolades in Japan, and I'm really happy that they are here!

The restaurant uses a card system for ordering like some of those in Singapore.

Owner of Bario, Mr Iwasaki

The interior of the restaurant is similar to that of Ebisuboshi Shotengai. The induction cooker on some of the tables reminds me of the shabu-shabu restaurant that was there. I was there on a Saturday lunchtime - considering that it was the 2nd day of operation, the crowd was a bit thin. Its a pity because on this first week of operation, the owner of the respective brands' owners are all present in Singapore.

The next question is - which one should I eat?

As a man (achem...), I've chosen to try Bario, which means "super guy" in Japanese according to the owner. Well this is more of a joke. The real reason is that I've heard a lot of good things about Bario from Japan.

Your ramen is ready

After ordering your ramen, the stores at Ramen Champion hands you a tag that will ring when your ramen is ready. A good way to keep our waiting time down while being able to enjoy it hot.

Bario offers Jiro-style (二郎系) ramen - ramen in ultra large portion that comes with a mountain of vegetables. Another place in Singapore that you can have this in Menya Shinchan.

I ordered the signature ramen ($13) from Bario.
And it does come with a bang!

The ramen is topped with a mountain of bean sprouts and cabbage, with a few blocks of chunky char siew. The bean sprouts have their tips picked off, keeping the more juicy and crunchy part. It is a sign of its attention to details.

The char siew is really chunky, with the surface / skin charred but the inside still soft and juicy. It was good, but the only thing is that it was slightly salty for me.

The noodles are thick, flat and curly, giving the bowl of noodle a chewy and rugged "manly" feel just like its name.

At first I was dreading that I might not be able to finish the big bowl, and I have to leave behind some food to the horror of the owner. But it was good that I had no problem finishing it.

And... you shouldn't stop there and should finish the last drop of soup!


Because you will be rewarded with this compliment -

Thank you. You are a man

For ladies (or beginners), the portion could be quite big for your to finish. You might want to start with trying the half-sized ramen, unless you are very hungry.

Ramen Data - Bario @ Ramen Champion, Iluma
Address: 201 Victoria Street, 4F Iluma, Ramen Champion
Types: Jiro-style Ramen
Rating: 8.5/10

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