I am a big fan of ramen so now and then I’d visit a ramen shop when I crave for it. Over several months I visited three ramen restaurants. They have their unique selling points: Kajiken specialises in dry ramen, Ramen Keisuke Kani King in crab broth, and Sō Ramen is priced 2/3 of the usual cost for ramen. In short, I like all of them but here’s a longer exposition:
Kajiken has three outlets at Novena Square 2, Paya Lebar Square, and Tanjong Pagar. We went to the Tanjong Pagar, which is small and cosy, and manned by Japanese chefs.
Kajiken hails from Nagoya prefecture and is touted to be the first in Singapore to serve mazesoba (dry ramen). “Maze” means “to mix,” and “soba” simply means “noodles” (which is why some ramen shops call themselves “soba” too). When you finish eating your ramen, you can shout “OIMESHI!” to the staff, and they will bring you a scoop of rice to mix with the remaining sauce.
Futhermore, you can choose your portion of ramen with no extra charge: regular (140g) or extra regular (210g). That day, the waitress recommended their signature, mazesoba Nagoya style ($ 12.80), which is consists of dry noodles, spicy minced pork, soft boiled egg, seaweed and some vegetables. We also had the tonkotsu mazesoba ($ 13.30) with dry noodles, black fungus, fried onion, boiled egg, bamboo shoot, pickled ginger, spring onion, and char siew. Actually my eyes tak stamp that day, because, looking at the menu now, I would have ordered mazesoba with all toppings ($ 15.80).
How to eat it? There is a 20 second rule: you mix for 20 seconds before you dig in. (You can add your own vinegar and chilli oil if you like more heat.)
WOW. The flavours are so explosive that I didn’t miss the richness of soup ramen. The secret is in the sauce and oil that have a great umami. We paid $ 31 for two persons.
Ramen Keisuke Kani King
8 Grange Road, #01-03 Cathay Cineleisure, Orchard Singapore 239695
tel: +65 6262 6968 (no reservation)
M-Th 12pm-3pm, 5pm-10pm; F & PH Eve 12pm-3pm, 5pm-2am; Sat 12pm-2am; Sun & PH 12pm-10pm
Keisuke now has 12 outlets in Singapore, 8 of which are ramen with some unique concepts. I am a big fan of Keisuke ramen: Keisuke Tokyo and Keisuke Tonkotsu King belong to the, in my opinion, the best 5 ramen in Singapore (the other three are Marutama, Bari Uma, and Gyoza Bar).
Gyoza (3pc or 5pc or 10pc, $ 1 each)
The reason why I haven’t been to Kani King (or Crab King) when it opened in March 2016 is that I already tasted their crab broth ramen before at Keisuke Tokyo. So this concept isn’t really original; it is not a “new creation” as stated on their website.
Rich crab broth, all toppings ($ 18.90)
There are two types of crab broth here: clear soup (from crabs, herbs, and vegetables) and rich soup (from imported swimming crabs and chicken bones).
Spicy crab broth, all toppings ($ 19.90)
It was as good as I remembered; rich, thick, robust, sweet, everything I look for in a ramen. My brother treated me for this meal. Thanks kor kor!
So you think you can ramen? Sō Ramen has 5 outlets all over Singapore: Bedok Mall, Velocity @ Novena Square, Breadtalk IHQ, Resorts World Sentosa, and nex which we visited. Their unique selling point is the ramens are priced at 2/3 the cost of other restaurants’ ramens. But even if it is cheaper, it is still very tasty.
They offer 5 types of broth: shoyu, miso, tonkotsu, uobushi tonkotsu and spicy tonkotsu, each simmered for hours to a rich flavour. I got their signature, grand tonkotsu ramen ($ 12.90) at a good price, with most toppings. It consists of toroniku (braised pork cheek: super tender!), cha shu (braised pork belly in cha shu sauce), buta kakuni (braised pork belly in special sauce), bamboo shoots, spring onions, and half an egg. (Too bad no seaweed here!) The black dots are black onion sauce in a tonkotsu broth boiled for 8 hours.
It’s quite good. Light and refreshing. And super good value with so much meat. The toroniku is especially impressive, flavourful and tender. Satisfying!
The other signature that they boast, butariki ishinabe ($ 11.90), is a hotstone bowl holding barbecued pork on Koshihikari rice from Niigata prefecture. Some people say that Koshihikari rice is the best variety of rice, and I have eaten it a few times elsewhere and I bought the uncooked rice before from Meidi-ya supermarket at Liang Court. But somehow, the rice at Sō Ramen doesn’t taste like the Koshihikari I cook at home; their rice is lacklustre. As a result, this Korean-inspired dish is like, according to Mr Fitness, “Yoshinoya in a hotstone bowl lor.” It’s not bad, but it’s not fantastic.
Skip the gyozas ($ 2.40 for 4 pc), which they claim are their signature; they are skinny and stick together. But the karaage ($ 3.80) is not too bad: “Tastes like KFC!” Mr Fitness said.
Given how affordable the restaurant is, the food is not bad. But it is best to stay focus on ramen and not eat rice dishes. We paid $ 39 for two persons.
You may be interested in…
–Yen for Ramen: Burosu Honten at Emporium Shokuhin Marina Square; Buta God at Ramen Champion; Xin Hao Ramen at Bugis Cube
–Jimoto Ya, China Square Central: Hokkaido Ebi-Tonkatsu Ramen Created by Michelin-Starred Chef Nobumasa Mieda
–Tsuta Ramen, Pacific Plaza Orchard: First and Only Michelin-Starred Truffle Ramen Opens in Singapore
–Uma Uma Ramen, Forum Mall
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.