Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ikkousha in Fukuoka!

I just wrote about Ikkousha being crowned the Ultimate Ramen Champion in Singapore last week. 

What a coincidence!

Just in the following week, I have a chance to travel Ikkousha's hometown, Fukuoka. While I couldn't write about Singapore's Ikkousha now, of course I should visit the real authentic Ikkousha in Fukuoka.

And here I am, in Ikkousha @ Deitos Hakata, right on top of the JR Hakata Station.


This Ikkousha outlet is located in the Hakata Noodle Street, a food street with 12 noodles stores from different parts of Kyushu. Besides ramen, it also has shops offering udon, soba and Nagasaki champion.

Maybe I am a little early for lunch

Frankly I was not aware of Ikkousha when I was in Tokyo, but walking around the streets of Fukuoka, I spotted quite a number of them - They are a famous regional brand from Fukuoka!

Checking Ikkousha's homepage, they have 9 outlets in Fukuoka alone, and 1 more in Kyoto. In addition to the Ikkousha brand, there are also other brands such as Gensuke (offering seafood-tonkotsu ramen. unfortunately closed in Singapore), Genkun (offering tsuke-men), Genou (offering tsuke-men too) and Keishi (offering seafood-shoyu ramen). Last but not least, the group also has a noodle manufacturing company, supplying noodles to the group and beyond. 

Overseas and beyond Singapore, they have also expanded to Jakarta, with 2 stores now. 

Outside the Deitos store, there is this board that was created to share with their customers that they are now expanding to the world!

世界進出 - Expanding to the world!

Attracted by the huge pieces of char siew, I tried the Char Siew Ramen (850 yen).

Giant char siew!!

The ramen is topped with spring onion, black fungus and 4 thin slices of char siew that spill over the edge of the bowl. True to the Hakata style tonkotsu ramen, narrow and white noodles are used, and the soup is creamy with the rich smell of pork bones. The soup is boiled over strong fire in a large traditional Japanese pot, thereby giving it its creamy texture. However, this way also introduces the "pork bone smell" that some might not like. The sauce (tare) used is said to have used 4 different types of local soy sauce, a handful of spices and a few types of seafood.

Personally I like this bowl of ramen. While it does not gives a strong impact in a single area, it is tasty and mild that kept me eating on and on. The char siew is soft and compliments the soup and noodles well. Compared to the outlet in Singapore, I felt that the soup is slightly thicker here in Fukuoka. 

There is a direct flight from Singapore to Fukuoka, so to those of you ramen fans out there, you might want to visit Fukuoka and taste Ikkousha and also other famous Hakata ramen!

View Ramen Walker's Ramen Map in a larger map

Ramen Data - Ikkousha @ Hakata Deitos
Address: 1-1 Hakataeki-Chuogai, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka (Inside Hakata Ramen Road, Deitos 2F)
Types: Tonkotsu Ramen
Price: 650 - 1050 yen

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Ikkousha - 2011 Ultimate Ramen Champion!

After a year of operation, the winner of the Ramen Champion project is finally decided!

A media event was held on 7 August to announce the winner as well as the next phase of the project. I was invited to the event too, but unfortunately I'm overseas and have to give a miss to this wonderful opportunity to witness the winner and get to know the ramen community in Singapore.

The winner of 2011 Ramen Champion is.... (drum roll)

IKKOUSHA (一幸舎)!!

It was reported that Ikkousha topped the competition, selling 100,531 bowls of ramen in the past year. No. 2 is Bario, who sold 65,529 bowls. The difference is pretty huge. Wonder how were the sales of the rest of the concepts.

(Note: Their normal ramen costs $13, so their sales over the year would be about S$1.3mil just for the small stall! Is that consider a lot?)

I didn't have the time to blog about Ikkousha, but I have eaten it many times. Personally I liked Toyama Black best, but Ikkousha will be my number two. Its tonkontsu soup is tasty but not too heavy, unlike the other stalls in Ramen Champion that people might find them slightly too salty.

The result reinforced the type of ramen that Singaporeans tend to like - Tonkotsu! We already have Santouka and Ippudou that is widely popular in Singapore, and now Ikkousha is crowed the ramen champion.

Where there is a winner there is a loser. Of the first batch of Ramen Champion stalls, 2 of them, Tetsu and Gensuke, and  will not be continuing on for the next year. While the soup of Tetsu was good, I personally does not quite like eat tsukemen because the soup tends to get cold fast. Maybe many Singaporean felt the same. For Gensuke, I have not been there before. It seems that it is supposed to be a Halal ramen concept created by Ikkousha using chicken broth. Perhaps the ramen crazy has not caught up within the Muslim community in Singapore?

The next phase of Ramen Champion will commence from 7 Aug 2012 to 30 Jul 2013 with a total of 8 brands. The 2 new entrants are:

Menya Aoyama (麺屋 青山) - A tonkotsu ramen stall with its specialty being its ajitama egg. The egg seems to be marinated in seasoned fresh cream

Taka no Tsume (鷹の爪) - A stall with its specialty in spicy ramen. "Taka no Tsume", or the eagle's claw, is also the name of a type of chili in Japan that is known for its hotness. Something like our chili padi in Southeast Asia.

Seems that they have brought in 2 concepts to suit Singapore's palate - Tonkotsu and Chili ramen.

Another interesting finding is that these 2 ramen stalls seems to be related to a company in Japan called Menya Kouji Group (麺屋こうじ), that is responsible for producing a group of ramen stalls in Japan. The CEO of Menya Kouji Group, Tashiro Koji, seems to be also the COO of Komars Group, the company behind Ramen Champion in Singapore. Mr Tashiro himself have been trained as a ramen chef under Taishoken, and have opened several successful ramen shops in Japan. It is fun when the dots connect!

I will not be able to try these ramen in Singapore, so please share with me your comments if you have tried them? I will also try to make my way to their stall in Japan... although both are a little far in Chiba prefecture.
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