Thanks to the stagnant Japanese economy and Singaporeans’ taste for nippon, ramen shops are mushrooming all over the cosmopolitan heart of the city. Ying san and I are avid consumers of Cool Japan i.e. gaming, manga, washoku etc. and the constant yearning for the rich pork broth ramen we had during our trip in Japan in March this year gave us a mission in Singapore living.
Before Japanese ramen chains began their invasion this year, we used to slurp up the milky black pig ramen at Tampopo to quell our addiction. It is still rated as the best ramen in Singapore, probably. From the day Ying san invited me to get sashimi-ed by her at some ulu pandan part of River Valley Road, we spent over a hundred dollars on ramen and other gastronomic delights. Another ulu pandan part of the city where we went ramen hunting was in Parco at Millenia Walk. We tried Keisuke ramen which served up thick prawn miso broth and crab broth. Unfortunately, in a region where you can get prawn noodles for less than $4, I did not find the dining experience a unique and memorable one.
The egg salad was heavenly but the chicken charsiew rice brought us back to hell…
The thick, coying prawn flavour left me desperate to scrape my tongue.
The highlights of our gastronomic adventure would have to be Ippudo Tao and Sanomaru Sapporo Ramen.
Ippudo Tao’s noodles were thick and submerged in a bi-colored broth of white soup and black sauce.
We plan to return to the restaurant to try out the 爆裂豆腐 (Exploding beancurd?!). As for ambience, the Japanese customers set the mood with their rowdy, salarymen conversations, otherwise I’d rate it as average. The tea comes in a white chinese teapot and typically small chinese teacups (how authentic… ). Pepper and other condiments are rationed out by the waitress who would go from table to table to sprinkle fixed amounts of seasoning into the ramen.
Sanomaru Sapporo Ramen is rated tops by Ying san and me. I was a skeptic when my Japanese sensei raved on his facebook that he would give the person a full refund if the ramen is not good. After trying out the ramen, I’d probably do the same www. I usually approach miso/shio/shoyu soup bases with trepidation where the high sodium levels could crystallize my kidneys to rocks. But Sanomaru’s soups are surprisingly light and balanced without diluting the flavours of the soup.
Upsized Shoyu Ramen
For both visits to Sanomaru, we were serviced by a Japanese lady whose attentiveness, moeness and perfect english reduced us to grinning like perverted old men at her. She gave us warm water after we finished our beer. Isn’t that sweet? Now I understand why Japanese men queue up to sit in maid cafes and pay ridiculous prices for diluted coffee. It’s the moe factor which is a combination of attentive care, platinum customer service and a pleasant appearance which makes the customer a regular.
Sorry Tampopo… You should have worked on your staffing.