Hellish ramen?

The last time I visited this place, it was part of a wider food court and they served fiery ramen. The ramen had varying degrees of spiciness to it and they alluded to hell when describing just how hot their ramen was. Well, their menu has expanded since but their name has not changed. And instead of just serving very spicy ramen, one can now choose to have it without any chilli at all.

There is a wide variety of ramen and their more famous ones are the ramen with salmon fish, salmon skin and chicken karaage. The spicy ramen is recommended as that is what the restaurant is famous for. The sashimi servings were fresh and we polished off the ice-cream pretty quickly.

From the pictures below, we ordered a variety of food as there were several adults and two kids.

Beppu Menkan Ramen, #01-19, China Court, 20 Cross Street. Tel: 64380328

Salmon sashimi.

Tuna sashimi

Yellowtail sashimi

A friend ordered ramen with cod fish on the side, non-spicy. Cod fish was served separately, unlike the salmon (see picture below) and it was good. Shiok even! Soup and ramen were both fine too.

Another friend ordered spicy ramen with salmon. Salmon was a little dry but the ramen was spicy enough. This was the two chilli rating.

A third friend ordered spicy ramen with chicken karaage. Ramen was just nice, spice wise. It was also the the two chilli rating. To him, the chicken was the best karaage chicken in Singapore.

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Mushroom ramen, non-spicy. The soup was rather bland. I liked the mushrooms though.

A fourth friend ordered Beppu ramen which had beef, seafood and vegetables in it. This was non-spicy as well. The broth was a little light but the noodles were nice and springy.

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Flavoured crushed ice with apple pieces in it which we polished off very quickly. I don’t know what it’s called.

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Dessert with fruit in them. They were nice, light and refreshing.

Rising Sun: Last bowl of ramen

Now, this is a word of caution for anyone who wants to eat at Narita Airport before their flight out. Do eat before you go through immigration and not after as there is hardly any restaurants after immigration. We were flying out on a Saturday night and there were like only three eating places, out of which two were already closed by about 8pm. In the end, I settled for this bowl of ramen before flying out. This place is at gate 86 and they opened till later than the others.

If you want to pick up any souvenirs, the shops after immigration are duty-free. The price difference is about 6%. Check with the folks at the shops before immigration if the items are available in the shops after immigration before you buy. The price difference is not great unless you are buying expensive items though.

Thank you for coming with me on the food trail in the land of the Rising Sun.

Sayonara, Nihon. Till next time.

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Hot instant charsiew ramen which was not bad. I wanted something hot.

Rising Sun: In search of ramen

We decided that we wanted to have ramen in Sendai. Finding a shop that served ramen proved a little more difficult. I’m sure there were ramen shops in Sendai, just that we didn’t know where they were. However, while shopping along the main shopping area in Sendai itself, we saw an advertisement for the ramen shop in a most ingenious way. So in we went. I forget to take down the name of the shop but if you see the display, the shop is just there.

The ramen display, with sticky tape and all! Look out for this sign if you want to try the ramen here. It is along a very long stretch of shopping malls at Aoba-ku, Sendai. This is within walking distance from the Sendai train station.

Having been in Japan numerous times, I realised that the ramen portions can be quite large. So I decided to share one portion with a friend and boy, were we glad we shared. This ramen was a little different from what we were used to as the sauce was quite thick. It also tasted like it had egg in the gravy itself. As it was so thick, it seemed more like a gravy than a soup. It was nice but different from what we were used to.

Down the ramen lane

Since I am now revisiting Japanese eating places that have been around for a few years, as opposed to a few months, I decided to coin today’s post, Down Ramen Lane. This is a big deal as food business here is very competitive and it only takes a new kid on the block to send the ole kids packing if they do not have staying power.

When I first had it a few years ago — this stall first came to Singapore in 2007 — ramen was just making inroads into Singapore. Now there are too many ramen restaurants to count and it shows no sign of abetting.

I was happy that the taste was still good. This brand of ramen uses both chicken and pork to make its broth so the soup is not overly thick. What I liked best about it was the mini size. I was glad not to be carbo-laden at the end of the meal. I wanted to order gyoza as well but I was told that the ‘machine had broken down’. Hmm…oh well, so I ordered a salad instead. The meal was not expensive and the combination if food was pretty balanced. So, would I go back again? Likely.

The service could have been better and I actually wondered if it was because we were at Funan IT mall. The place is more well-known for its digital stuff than for its food, perhaps? But there are a few eating places here which are not bad. The experience was fine as it was but it would have been better if the folks there had been a little friendlier.

Bishamon’s Sapporo Ramen, Funan Digitalife Mall, #01-18. Tel: 6337 5142.

Cold tofu

Fresh Salad

Negi ramen – mini size. It had enough flavour in it without being overly salty as some ramen broth are known to be. The broth is a combination of chicken and pork which meant that it was not overly oily either. I’d come back here for ramen again.

Ramen reflections

This is probably one of the first ramen chains in Singapore. Back in those days, the stall was famous for its volcano ramen and one could pick the intensity that one wanted. No prizes for guessing that it’s spiciness intensity that we are talking about. The idea was pretty novel and the owner was willing to try new ideas, to great success. Today, that volcano sauce is like a signature dish of Ajisen. From the first few stores, there are now 21 stores in Singapore, and an evolving menu as well.

I do not like my ramen that spicy but I do like Tom Yum and today I tried the Pork shabu shabu tom yum ramen. It’s basically very thinly sliced pork in tom yum soup, with ramen. I liked their Dory fish tom yum ramen before and I like their pork shabu shabu one as well.

In the early days, the staff would consist of some Japanese and that added to the authencity of the whole experience. Soon, they were replaced with local staff or foreigners like Filipinos or those from mainland Chinese. Today, I heard a Southeast Asian struggling to be understood as she took down orders from two mainland Chinese customers. Both were trying hard to be understood by the other. The waitress was either from Cambodia, Myanmar or Vietnam. This little picture depicts how much Singapore has changed in the last few years. People from other South East Asian countries are coming here, hungry for work, putting in the effort to master a different language and earning a living. Others have found this a pleasant place to live in and even to call home. This is but a micro view of a much larger scenario — the story of how this country’s demography is changing — played out at the local ramen shop.

I set out to be a food blogger. But more and more, I find myself learning from the food makers and reflecting about life as I am blogging about food, hence, today’s title.

Itadakimasu.

Ajisen Ramen, Junction 8, 9 Bishan Place, #B1-22/23/24, Singapore 579837. Tel: 6255 6642.

The tom yum soup base was nice. The thinly sliced pork meant that the soup flavour went into the meat quickly. I love lemon grass and I could taste that in the soup. A simple and delightful dish that was not too spicy for me.

So so ramen

I am now at a ramen dining place at Serangoon Gardens. I chose to sit outside so the photos would come out nicer under natural light.

I ordered their edamame which they had pan-fried with garlic and added salt. Usually, such beans are steamed as is for a lot less, price-wise. Frying them had made them a little more soggy than the usual steaming and because the beans are on the inside of their pods, the flavours from the salt and garlic ended up more on the fingers — one had to pop open the pods with fingers in order to get to the beans — than on the beans. But the price for these flavoured beans were almost double what you would get at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, and fresher there too.

I also ordered the vegetable ramen, mini-sized, cooked in salt as well. It tasted better than it looked. Perhaps I am used to tonkotsu (pork-based) soup, miso and shoyu (soy based) soups which looked like they had more stock in them. A mini portion was going for $10 before the extra charges and there wasn’t much in it; I ordered mini, not kid size. They could have value added to the dish as Japanese restaurants in Japan are known to do. Even ramen restaurants in Singapore value-add to their dishes as it is such a competitive market. They do so by giving customers free flow of bean sprouts or fried garlic flakes or other things; whether or not the customers actually load up their bowls with them is secondary, the restaurant is at least perceived to be generous.

The tempura egg looked a lot nicer in the menu than when it was served. It tasted fine, but again the presentation could have been better.

This place may seem to serve affordable Japanese ramen and other side dishes but there are nicer ramen places around. However, this place seems to attract customers mainly by location and if one is looking for Japanese food without going too far away, then this might be a good place to come to. It does have the usual favourites like karaage (fried chicken) and gyoza (minced meat dumplings) on the menu. There are three outlets in Singapore, out of which two are located in Orchard and the city area where traffic may be higher. Perhaps the food there may be of better quality. The service was fine — no complaints there.

Daikokuya, Serangoon Gardens, 1 Maju Avenue #01-01, myVillage, Singapore 556679. Tel: 6509 1690.

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Ramen Play

It was another of those dinner dilemma evenings — What shall we have for dinner? I have been here before and I liked their chicken mustard salad. But I didn’t want to have that again, so I decided on something else. Being someone who is used to the Japanese standard of ramen, I was quite ambivalent about the ramen here. I’ve had their Sanpou ramen before and found it oily (being made up of three parts of the pig — pork cheek, pork loin and pork belly — the oily bit was probably inevitable). However, their effort at food variety is commendable. Any perceived lack in quality was made up for, with variety. One the items which I tried before and which was a novel idea was the rice ice-cream, which was nice. One could actually taste the Niigata rice in that. The place is also pleasant with good service and was not overly expensive for meeting up with a friend for dinner. This place has a steady stream of customers and there are many outlets in Singapore.

The place is opened by the Breadtalk folks who make overly-priced and fanciful breads, while attempting to be a designer bakery. I think that if more wholesome ingredients are added to their bread instead of just making them more fanciful, they would attract a different set of customers on top of those they are currently attracting. But I digress.

For their ramen, they have teamed up with the folks who make Sanpou ramen to come up with Ramen Play. The concept of ‘play’ was portrayed by the way the waiters and waitresses are dressed in black pants and white sleeved blouses or shirts, and suspenders. The suspenders give a ‘playboyish‘ feel to the place — the point of which escapes me, except perhaps to appeal to a younger crowd. It seems that everyone is trying to attract a younger crowd nowadays as they may be more open to new food tastes and less mindful of food conventions of the past.

I ordered cha su (sliced pork) and vegetable ramen in miso soup while my friend had sweet and spicy ramen curry. We ordered a gyoza to share between us.

Ramen Play, 9 Bishan Place #01-51, Singapore 579837. Tel: 6258 2661.

Vegetable ramen which was reasonably good

Curry ramen — something different, spicy and sweet

Down Under: Quick ramen

This is a trend that I noticed in Sydney — places that serve quick and reasonably good Japanese food, without charging a lot for them. Up until now, I had only come across the places that served rice. But this place served ramen for less than AUD$5 for a simple bowl of ramen. I was surprised at the price. Located in the busy city area, this place was good for a cheap and quick meal.

The soup that the ramen were made in were known as ‘miso flavoured’ or ‘tonkotsu flavoured’. Basically, it was the miso or tonkotsu soup mixed with hot water and the ramen was then added in, along with the other ingredients. I was not used to ramen being cooked in this manner and doubted it would taste good, hence I did not try the ramen, which I regretted cos then I couldn’t review this eatery properly. I opted for something more authentic but cheap instead.

The rice I ordered was just nice as I wanted something light. A friend ordered iced milk matcha and that was pretty good too.

Tenkomori Ramen House, 501 George St, Sydney, NSW 2000.

Rice with fried pork and kimchi. The rice here is the long grain rice and not the calrose kind. This was pretty good and just nice for something light. AUD$3.50 per bowl.

Shop exterior

Tako balls

Soul food!

I was really wanting to eat rice for dinner and settled into this restaurant. Glancing through the menu, I noticed it serves mainly ramen. I ordered the sesame rice on the menu and asked them if they could prepare a corn salad for me, chargeable of course! The waitress checked with the kitchen and agreed. I expected a small bowl of salad. I was surprised by what I was served. I will definitely come back here for lunch or dinner again. The rice was simply delicious as they had mixed in the sesame seeds and oil into the rice itself, garnished with shallots. However, it did not taste oily.

The level of service here reminded me of the good service that I am more used to receiving in Japan. It was also late on a Sunday evening and they were not busy.

This place serves authentic ramen, hence, the review would not be complete if I did not try their ramen as well. So with a complimentary return voucher for a flavoured egg, I returned on another day to try their ramen. They were really busy on a Saturday night and my order got mixed up with someone else. I ordered the ‘light’ version for taste. I was not disappointed. The soup was good, the meat was just the right texture; not dry and hard like some other ramen places. With a generous helping of pickled bean sprouts and a dash of bonito flakes, I was satisfied with my ramen.

Soul food, indeed!

Keisuke Tokyo Ramen Dining, Millenia Walk #03-02, 9 Raffles Boulevard. Tel: 6337 7919.

(The restaurant is on the 3rd floor within Parco itself, where the other restaurants within Parco are situated.)

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