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Japanese

Japanese

Featuring Ramen Nagi (Suntec City), Teru Sushi, Ramen Champion (Bugis+), Una Una, Sanpoutei Ramen (Holland Village), Chirashi King Kong (Tanjong Pagar), Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen (Bukit Panjang Plaza), Idaten Udon (IMM), Ajisen Ramen (Bukit Panjang Plaza)
Sean Chen
Sean Chen

(Part 2 of 2)

Nikumori Rich Miso Ramen with Special Full Topping ($19.80++)
While the noodles and the egg were the same, the broth tasted much more umami and of course, less 'meaty'. This broth was simmered for 8h before being mixed with their original blend of miso. And though it was great, as a fan of tonkotsu, it really paled in comparison to the previous bowl. Furthermore, while the stir-fried pork belly slices were thick, they were considerably tougher than the aburi char shu and I would gladly swap the pork belly slices for the char shu any day. Oh, plus points for the copious amounts of onions provided though.
Taste: 8/10

Rice Set
Tarako Onigirazu ($4++)
Topping up an additional $4++ for their rice set, I had their Tarako (Salted Pollock Roe) Onigirazu (Onigiri's rectangular cousin). Simply put it, it tasted like a less satisfying version of mentaiko mixed with a hefty portion of rice which should not be surprising I guess as the roe is not marinated in a mixture of salt and chili peppers. While I'm unlikely to have it again, at least not this flavour, I'll highly recommend dunking it into the broth. Though it'll fall apart instantly, it's akin to dipping bread in soup i.e. They are *meant* for each other.

Needless to say, this meal is perhaps the closest semblance (thus far) to food found in Japan. And if not for the price point, I'll gladly come back to sample everything they have to offer.
Overall (Taste + Ambience + Price): 8/10

More pictures at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8Q9UhrHx1w/?igshid=j3jazvzudc2t

(Part 1 of 2)
After my disastrous experience at Ajisen Ramen, I've received quite a few other recommendations on legit Japanese food in Singapore. Forgiving myself for my ignorance, we enjoyed an amazing bowl of ramen this time, reminiscent of the ones in Japan. That is, apart from the price point.

Entering Sanpoutei Ramen at Holland Village, I was surprised at how spacious the interior was as it appeared tiny from the front. To get to our seats, we walked past the kitchen where different staff were focused on skillfully cooking just 1 item. As I finally browsed through my favourite book, I began to get increasingly excited, forgetting just how much I've missed Japanese cuisine...

Tonkotsu Ramen w Special Full Topping ($19.80++)
Rich and porky broth filled with creamy goodness, this was thoroughly satisfying and we wished that we could have gotten a refill (Didn't actually try asking though). Soaking up their broth were their firm and springy curly noodles. While I do prefer mine extra firm, it had already exceeded my expectations. Of course, one should not forget their creamy shoyu egg which spotted a surreal sunset orange hue. Without the 12 hour tonkotsu (pork bones) broth, their aburi char shu (BBQ Pork) would have taken centre stage. It had a nice layer of fat, was tender all around and had a smoky flavour which seems to have had eluded other Japanese restaurants I've tried in Singapore.
Taste: 9/10

More pictures at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B8Q9HnLHS_O/?igshid=byugjx48fufo

Kumamoto Ramen
Adapted from http://www.japan-tour.jp/en/kumamoto-ramen/kyushu/kumamoto/ramen/8025 and tasteatlas.com/kumamoto-ramen respectively,
1) Kumamoto ramen is a dish that consists of thick, strong noodles served inside a rich soup made with pork bones. Garlic is a key feature, with garlic chips, as well as garlic oil used in the recipe.
2) The broth is not as oily as the one found in Hakata ramen, making it suitable to those who aren't used to strong-tasting broths. This ramen is also known for the inclusion of fried garlic chips and sesame oil.

As usual, I tried the broth first and surprisingly, this broth had barely any flavour compared to the ramen I had at Volcano Kazan. It was less rich with no garlic chips and I am sure, no garlic oil present in the ramen. If there was any garlic used in making this dish I truly could not identify it. The noodles were similarly firm and slightly more springy which I prefer while the egg was slightly more runny and custard-like. However, it was similarly flavourless. My next surprise came when I was trying their char shu (2 slices). It was even tougher than the previous ramen hence I'm quite thankful that it was cut into bite-sized portions. The best item here would be their kakuni (braised pork belly) which had a good ratio of meat to fat, was tender and had a strong, robust flavour. Unfortunately, as the broth was utterly disappointing, I found this to be even less satisfying than the previous ramen.
Taste: 5/10

Chijimi (6pcs)
'Korean-style scallion pancakes'
All I can say is I think I've had enough surprises from here...It had absolutely no flavour. Felt as though I was eating starch mixed with oil and the occasional hint of vegetable. Strongly do not recommend, you'll probably need all their vinegar to finish this.
Taste: 2/10

More pictures at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B4y8MjrHgOm/?igshid=1qnis5mgz0mwk

Karamiso (Spicy miso) Ramen
When my bowl arrived, I was really excited as the dish, together with the rest of the restaurant looked very authentic. It even came with the special ramen soup spoon like my previous experience in Ramen Nagi Singapore. Unfortunately, the broth was was not the richest, though relative to the next restaurant I tried was much more flavourful and creamy. The noodles were firm and al dente but would have preferred it to be more springy. I would have preferred my ramen gg (Ajitsuke Tamago) just a tad bit more creamy. Flavourwise, both restaurants I tried failed to deliver as there was hardly any taste in the egg. The sliced char shu here was very lean, but slightly tough. While it was definitely more flavourful than the egg with a hint of sweetness, its flavour was somehow masked by the broth it was in. Also, I felt that more slices could have been given though the single slice (and a half) I had was thicker than usual. My favourite element here would have to be the reddish ball of spicy miso minced meat right at the centre of the bowl. After thoroughly mixing it into the broth though, the spice and meat was diluted to the point that the dish was no longer spicy and lacking in much flavour. Overall, I've tried much better ramen than this and I doubt 'll be coming back for this.
Taste: 5.5/10

Cha Shu Salad
Their salad came with sliced cabbage, 1 slice of cucumber, bits of corn and of course sliced char shu resting on top 1 cabbage leaf before being topped off with a generous drizzle of goma/roasted sesame dressing. It's kind of like an elevated version of the unlimited helpings of salad offered at a Tonkatsu restaurant. Simple but satisfying, especially if you are a fan of the goma dressing.
Taste: 7/10

More pictures at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B4y61glnIqm/?igshid=1ij4jzxbf1k84

Ramen Champion @ Bugis+
Tonkotsu Ikkyu

Note: Price is exclusive of 7% GST

- Egg was unfortunately overcooked. It was slightly sweet but would have preferred a stronger flavour.
- Firm noodles
- Rich, umami and porky broth
- Char siew had a fantastic charred caramelised taste and was very meaty, not the fatty kind but still had ton of flavour just felt that it could be less oily. Very satisfying and significant portion given.
For the price, I didn't think this was quite substantial though a huge portion of char siew meat was given. Would have preferred an option for complimentary noodle upsize and perhaps some vegetables or thin slices of char siew to be provided as well?
Taste: 8.5/10

More pictures at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3mKhfqArED/?igshid=f2s2t6kwlkem

Note: There is 7% GST

'Minced Chicken, Half-boiled egg, Garlic Chili Oil'
The Udon could have been more firm. The dish is what you will expect, something like minced meat noodle but with thicker noodles. I felt that the chili was barely spicy as well.
Taste: 7/10

Quite a sizeable portion if you add on some of their tempura as side-dishes. While their tempura tastes decent, their not crispy, probably fried at the start of the day and left at the counter for far too long. I tried their Creamy Crab Croquette ($2.90++), Jumbo Mixed Kakiage; Fried mixed vegetables ($2++) and Deep-fried fish cake ($2.90++).
My advice: Stay away from the deep-fried fish cake. It is far too chewy and soggy. The Jumbo Mixed Kakiage had good taste but was soggy as well. My favourite would be the Creamy Crab Croquette due to how creamy it was, could not quite make out the taste of the crab though.
Overall Taste for all tempura: 5.5/10

More pictures at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B3MxnF2g1ew/?igshid=wj4lwruw0b0t

Not worth getting. Meagre portion of diced salmon cubes given. Entire bowl was mainly filled with bitter lettuce and other salad vegetables, chilled mashed potatoes and Japanese rice. Go for their Hitsumabushi instead, much more worth it.
Price: 4/10
Taste: 4/10
Overall: 4/10 (Would not order this again and will really NOT recommend)

See more at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B10jLjaASIH/?igshid=1px72du62a5tp

4 slabs of sweet and tender unagi over a bed of Japanese rice which soaked up the teriyaki glaze. Apart from the skin being a bit too chewy, was a very comforting and filling bowl of rice. Quite like their interesting touch of adding yuzu peels to the soup as well.
Taste: 7/10

See more at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B10jLjaASIH/?igshid=v6pw4rqrzu05

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The first thing that hit me was the rich porky scent of the Tonkotsu broth. Taking my first slurp of the Tonkotsu broth, it was a bit too thin for me and I would have preferred it to have been richer as well. Overall, the flavour from the pork was evident though and I would definitely request for a richer broth in future..
Kakuni (Wikipedia: A Japanese braised pork dish which literally means 'square simmered') had a strong sweet teriyaki glaze over it. Both the char siew and the kakuni were not the most tender and were in fact, quite tough. However, both did have a hearty distribution of fat, making the meat more flavourful. I particularly enjoyed the kakuni as it was soaked in a rich, slightly sweet, very umami and thick sauce.
The noodles were exactly as I had ordered, thin and firm but felt that the broth did not coat the noodles all that well.
Spicy paste was only mildly spicy but very umami and savoury. Ordering double the spice, the broth was initially very pleasant to drink but after awhile, I was starting to sweat; will still order twice the spice in future though.
The Ajitsuke Tamago while well-cooked with a partially gooey yolk was one of the less flavourful ones I had.
Overall, I was slightly disappointed partly because I went in with high expectations from the rave reviews online and partly because this bowl failed to deliver. The components of the ramen were above average at best and I definitely would not pay $22.25 for this. If I do come back though, I will definitely opt for the kakuni over the char siew.
Price: 6/10
Taste: 6/10
Overall: 6/10 (Above average bowl of ramen but may be overrated)

More pictures at
1) https://www.instagram.com/p/B1TIxpnA5mW/?igshid=1bh8f482vr89c
2) thankgodjournals.blogspot.com

King Kong Bowl ($14.90)
- Bluefin tuna belly, Minced tuna belly, Salmon roe
Toppings: Scallions, Jellyfish, Preserved vegetables, Wasabi
The truffle-infused soya sauce rice was very flavourful and had a hint of sesame seeds.
Love the flow of juices that the ikura provides, minced tuna was cold which I liked as it helped to provide more depth to the dish, but was not memorable tastewise.
The dish is overall really good and value-for-money but I needed all the wasabi they provided to cut through the soya sauce added to the rice which was slightly excessive after awhile
Price: 9/10
Taste: 8/10
Overall: 8.5/10

See more at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0lbyjrA5Rh/?igshid=5wi2fqas4ckr

Salmon Mentaiko Bowl ($9.90)
As I had just tried the same dish from Bao Makers ($14.80) earlier, I personally love this dish a lot more as it is far better than the one at Bao Makers.
The mentaiko flavour here was a lot stronger and a lot creamier. The salmon was only partially cooked, torched on the outside and raw on the inside, providing a contrast in textures to the dish. A substantial amount of salmon was also provided (Slightly more than that at Bao Makers).
Overall, while the rice was still overly saltish after awhile and required the wasabi to be mixed into the dish, would definitely come back again for this.
Price: 9/10
Taste: 9/10
Overall: 9/10 (Must-try)

See more at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0lbyjrA5Rh/?igshid=5wi2fqas4ckr

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Hiroshima Oysters ($1)
These oysters were served with ponzu sauce (Japanese citrus sauce) and momoji-oroshi (grated daikon radish with chili oil) and spring onions at the side.
As my friend and I had just consumed freshly shuckled oysters from The Dancing Crab @ Turf City the night before ($3), these oysters tasted noticeably less fresh, were much smaller in size and were sour and less juicy. While the sourness may have been due to the ponzu sauce, it did not do justice to the oysters and we would have preferred the oysters without the sauce. Also, though the oysters were served on a bed of ice, they were barely cold when we had them which made it even less enjoyable to eat.
Taste: 4/10

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