A Ramen Mission
Where was the first place you ever tried ramen? It was Singapore for me. Ramen is pretty much the epitome of the perfect comfort food. The combination of my trip to Japan back in January and the cooler, rainy weather lately, has been the perfect incentive to investigate more ramen options around Singapore. And I also learnt a thing or two in the process.
The ramen I normally prefer is made with tonkotsu broth, that’s the pork bones broth. It’s a rich broth, you can see from the little oil slicks of fat floating around the surface of your bowl. Another option is miso broth, which is a lighter version for those scared off by the richness of tonkotsu. And, as I discovered recently, you can also get a chicken broth version. Here are six ramen bowls that all offer something a little different.
The Winner – Marutama at Liang Court
Whilst I generally prefer a traditional tonkotsu ramen, the one I enjoyed most on recent occasions was slightly untraditional. The broth was made with chicken you see. As I said in my intro, tonkotsu is usually my favourite broth. Recently though I found some of the versions so fatty and glutinous that they made me unable to finish my bowl. Now I know ramen isn’t exactly designed to be a low fat, light meal, but still. You don’t want to walk away with your arteries feeling like they need a clean out.
The broth at Marutama is not exactly light, it’s rich and chickeny, and distinctly yellow in shade compared to a tonkotsu broth. That means you can slurp and slurp until your heart’s content 🙂 The noodles were springy too, and so moreish that I ate nearly the entire bowl full. I went for the version with char shu and I added in an egg for good measure. The egg is often the highlight for me with ramen. I just love the consistency, runny but a little gooey too. And that nice hint of soy from the marinade they’re soaked in.
The char shu was very good at Marutama although it didn’t have that crispy edge like the one at Uma Uma (below). The meat was tender and flavourful though and easily broke apart for yummy mouthfuls. The only downside was the soft seaweed that reminded me a bit of the weed that Husband pulls off the rocks to feed the fish he’s trying to catch in Sydney.
Another good point to note is that there’s no MSG in Marutama ramen. The menu at Marutama also includes side dishes like gyoza, hot pot soup and a few rice dishes. I wouldn’t know much about any of those though, the ramen’s why I came. The Marutama I visited was located in Liang Court, which is a nice, quiet mall and also has the bonus of having Meidi-ya (the Japanese supermarket).
Marutama at Liang Court
177 River Valley Road, #02-01, Singapore
phone +65 6837 2480
Also at Clarke Quay Central, Killiney Road and Kitchener Road
Crispy Char Shu at Uma Uma in Forum Shopping Mall
Uma Uma has been staring out at me for a long time. I’ve even been to the cute little bar, A Horse’s Mouth, where the ‘secret’ door is just as you enter Uma Uma, leading you down a sneaky set of stairs. I only made it to visit Uma though one day recently with @moomin76sg to try the ramen. We were on a bit of a Japanese binge on the day so we went all out on our ordering. We ordered a Tokotsu Combo which included a ramen bowl with bamboo shoots, gyoza and a green tea (all for $19++), then a single bowl of tonkotsu ramen ($15++) and an extra side of char shu $3++).
What I enjoyed about the ramen bowl was that the char she came in ‘bits’ all mixed up in the soup. This made it easy to get a full mouthful with soup, noodles and char shu all in one. Plus we had the bonus of crispy fried pieces of char shu on the side so we had the best of both worlds. The broth itself was good, there was a slightly acidic element, maybe some lime juice or something, which did take the edge off the fattiness. And a good egg too.
583 Orchard Road, #01-41, Singapore
phone +65 6235 0855
A Great Combo at Kanshoku Ramen at Orchard Central
I haven’t been to Kanshoku for a while now since I don’t work near Orchard Gateway anymore. What I really liked in their ramen though was the addition of corn. Aside from the colour I also felt like it was a little healthier. You can read more here.
277 Orchard Gateway, #01-06, Singapore
phone +65 6384 4770
Rich and decadent at Bari-Uma at Tanglin Shopping Centre
Bari-Uma is a cute little shopfront hiding in the front left corner of Tanglin Shopping Centre. The only reason I ever noticed it was when I had borrowed a car and parked in the car park there. Bari means super and uma means tasty by the way 😉 Which is a pretty accurate description. The super bit is definitely the rich pork broth. I went for a tonkotsu broth with char shu and egg ($14.90++). You might have worked out that I pretty much order the same ramen each time, it makes it easier to compare and also to find the ultimate bowl.
For me, I will admit that I found the broth at Bari-Uma too fatty. You can see the fat globules floating around the bowl, and the fatty taste made me feel slightly sick after I finished half a bowl full. There’s no doubt it packs flavour, and the char shu was nicely cooked, crispy outside and tender to munch into. The egg was also good and noodles were springy. If you are after a super rich ramen, this is your place.
19 Tanglin Road, #B1-01 Tanglin Shopping Centre, Singapore
phone +65 6887 4484
Bari-Uma is often packed at lunch time so arrive early to secure a table
Overhyped Tsuta Ramen at Shaw Centre
I’ll admit I probably wanted to find fault with Tsuta ramen. Michelin stars can so often be a disappointment in my experience. The soup itself (once we got to it, more on that later) was fairly lacklustre. It lacked the depth and richness that I like. In its defence, I had opted for no truffle with mine. And I suspect the point of Tsuta ramen is to have the truffle given that every single menu choice includes truffle! We had to go to lengths to have it removed (again, more on that later). The egg was good, flavoursome and bright orange. But frankly I was left completely underwhelmed by my experience.
And for your info, Tsuta ramen is a Tokyo style eatery where you order at the machine. This was lost in translation to us (and I’d been to Tokyo the week before so I don’t think this was my fault). I’d queued up for some time at the front because I was waiting for a friend. The queues by the way, vary. One day I went to visit Tsuta and there were 50 people in the queue, on this day there were only half a dozen. Once my friend arrived and we were ushered inside we went straight to the counter seats. Then there was then a lot of pointing and growling at us as we realised we had jumped the gun and we were supposed to stay in the foyer area and queue up a second time to enter our order in the machine.
This proved super difficult because we didn’t want truffle soup, just a standard ramen. So this meant we had to have our order manually adjusted to remove the truffle. What a palava. Anywa, the ramen was fine, but really not worth the hassle. I honestly don’t know why you’d bother with Tsuta unless you were truly truffle obsessed.
9 Scotts Road, Pacific Plaza, #01-01, Singapore
A Good Back-Up at Ippudo
Whilst I’m no fan of a restaurant chain, there’s a time and a place for everything. And occasionally, if I’m by myself at home and crave a bowl of comforting ramen, I’ll nip over to Ippudo across the road and satiate my craving. There’s nothing that particularly stands out about the ramen, but it’s a decent bowl and it will satisfy that feeling for comfort food. Plus, the side of cucumber with sesame is a delicious accompaniment 🙂
All over town, check the website
So go on, tell us where YOUR favourite ramen is!