PEr FYI

June 16, 2019

Baikohken, Asahikawa Ramen Village, Hokkaido…oodles of noodles

Not all ramen are created equal. There are salty, brown-coloured, broths and milky-coloured ones. But which restaurants really strike the perfect balance of flavoursome soup base to soft, silky noodles to extra ingredients? What is the secret that sets one ramen join apart from another? Who is top of the broths?

My mission to find the best ramen took me to Asahikawa Ramen Village in Hokkaido. The broth is pretty rich here. For the full-on indulgence, go for the charsiew ramen miso. Make sure to add in the butter, just because you can. The gyoza is a worthwhile side.

Overall, the food was good but not memorable but I can think of 50 other places I can get the same or better quality ramen. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 19, 2019

Teshikaga, Sapporo…cure your ramen cravings.

In the heart of Sapporo’s red light district, Ganso Ramen Yokocho, the “original alley”  – a long narrow alley which features 17 popular shops offering different flavours of miso ramen. There are mutterings about noodle strengths, and the mammarian wobble of one soft-boiled egg over another. The problem is that, as with so much in Japanese culture, once you get past a certain quality threshold it’s very hard to distinguish one thing from another.

The one I ordered – the all the shoes  miso ramen – snow crab, barbecued pork topped ramen with miso (bean paste based soup) is a vivid flash of colour. The broth is a lovely shade of rust with a kick. The barbecued pork meat is soft, the fat beginning to melt away into the broth and respectable noodles come with a lovely bite.

With the kitchen directly in front of you, you can watch your bowl get assembled from start to finish. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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July 15, 2018

Hajime Tonkatsu & Ramen, Singapore…man, this pork cutlet is good

Ton Katsu or Pork Cutlet shares a semblance with schnitzels.

Here at Hajime, the premium pork loin is the star, a perfectly fried cutlet coated with crunchy Japanese bread crumbs. And what meat it is—luxurious, thick, juicy and packed with porky flavor. Dipped into the sauce, the meat is moist and delicious. his isn‘t a taste of what tonkatsu has been—it‘s a taste of what it‘s become. The stock at Hajime is very good. It is a deep, rich, intensely life-affirming thing (albeit not for the pigs that must die in its making). The ingredients are simmered long and slow in water. Think 12 hours.

Go to Hajime to experience the religious power of properly fried pork. It is the way to make a bad day good. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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February 3, 2018

Wagamama, London…Just not worth it.

While Wagamama is a semi-intriguing name, the interest can stop there. This is clearly Japanese food tailored to a Western palate. Everyone love Japanese food, but the Japanese food here is really mediocre as far as I’m concerned.

And the Shirodashi ramen?  (slow cooked, seasoned pork belly on top of noodles on a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso. Topped with pea shoots, menma, spring onions, wakame and half a tea-stained egg) Well, that left much to be desired.

What to avoid: The poorly made Wagamama ramen (grilled chicken, seasoned pork, chikuwa, shell-on prawns and mussels on top of noodles in a rich chicken broth with dashi and miso. Topped with half a tea-stained egg, menma, spring onions, wakame and pea shoots) was objectively terrible. It was barely Japanese at all. And for a Japanese restaurant, what an achievement!

Why settle for middle of the road when there are other options? Just sayin’. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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September 2, 2017

Machida Shoten, Singapore…this ramen is a joke

No one ever makes good decisions on an empty stomach, which explains why a lot about my dinner here. If Machida Shoten has something actually worth eating, I’d honestly like to know what it is. I’m sorry to report that the ramen here was absolutely dreadful.

The soup was exceptionally bland, it might as well have been boiled water. The soft, limp noodles, forgettable egg and a light scattering of spring onions did little to cheer me up. You’d have to be a very drunk clubber to even consider eating this bowl of meh. I didn’t want to waste my money by refusing to eat it. In retrospect, I wish I had.

Nevertheless, I hope this restaurant stays open long enough to be featured on the next series of Gordon’s Kitchen Nightmares. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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May 20, 2017

Tsuta, Singapore…I’ll be honest: this is not worth the wait

Ramen is all the rage at the moment, and it’s easy to see why: there’s nothing finer for a light dinner than a bowl of noodles and delicious homemade broth.

The “world’s first and only Michelin-starred ramen joint” doesn’t sell ramen. It sells only soba…made primarily (but not exclusively) of buckwheat (soba), which gives it a different, stronger flavor.

A queue of ramen-lovers is normally snaking down the street waiting patiently for their noodle fix. The setting of Tsuta is low key. Ordering and payment is made at a touch-screen machine. The broth is enhanced by the richness of an infusion of truffle oil. The slice of roasted pork char sui on the surface is, although tender, not deeply tender enough. The noodles are firm and slurpable.

Time is precious. I’m getting old. I might be dead soon. The food is good but is not worth the wait. This is the true truth as I say it as it is…

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