Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tampopo, Ramen Santouka

Recently I have been visiting places that sell the same things, such as Ramen - this is down to two main reasons:
(a) I have been going to alot of places, so to put them under different blog headings would be too messy and also the whole blog will just have too many entries!
(b) Blogging the two stalls together will give one a better idea of the differences in taste, etc, and comparison which makes for more informed choices.

Well, no prizes for guessing that this blog post is about Ramen. Ramen is really Japanese mee-kia (though more springy) in a broth, which varies from place to place - in Kyushu it's the famous tonkatsu ramen which is pork bones crushed and boiled for days to get this milky white broth which is so intense and flavourful; in Sapporo there is the miso ramen, etc. So good stock is always a must.

Thus there are two "Ramen" champs of Singapore - there are others of course such as Miharu at Gallery Hotel, etc -- but these two are the most highly rated for giving the ultimate Ramen experience, if you know what i mean.

So on a wintery Sunday night Jeremy and I trouped down to Central to have a taste of Ramen Santouka, the famous Hokkaido chain of Ramen restaurants who had won many awards before. It is an unpretentious place, just a row of tables/chairs with a wonderful view overlooking the river looking onto Clarke Quay, with the kitchen at one end and the entrance at the other.

The specialty, I heard, was the Toroniku Tonkotsu Ramen, which is literally Pork Cheek with Tonkotsu (Pork Bones) Ramen. The Pork Cheek came separately in a plate, these lovely deliciously delicate things, while the ramen came in a bowl with the Tonkotsu broth, complete with all the condiments. One could either eat the Pork Cheek on its own, or dip it into the soup and eat with the Ramen. Either way you ate it though, the Pork Cheek was extremely flavourful and porky, with fat that really just melts in your mouth and bursting with intense pork flavour. My friend describes it as "melt in your ******* orifice good". The flavour of the Toroniku was not "smelly" in the sense of your average Pork from the market, but had a delicate husky flavour to it that was really very intense once you bit into it - it's something you have to taste for yourself - to savour pork heaven, pork heaven. The Tokontsu broth was really good too - i had the Shio, which was extremely flavourful, very rich and thick and full of porky goodness - there's this unami rush that makes the soup so addictive, mm. Wow. Just dip the pork cheek into the ramen and you'll have a good meal.
Awesome: (9.5/10)

Today though for the famous FOS lunch we went to this place at Liang Court called Tampopo which is famous for its Black Pig Pork Cutlet Tonkatsu, aka fried pork cutlet, as well as their ramen. Apparently their Black Pig Shabu Ramen was noted in Lifestyle for being one of the top 10 Ramens in Singapore. So I just had to order it. Die die must try? Let me try.

It came speckled with lots of chilli flakes with some cabbage and thin slices (shabu) of black pig in the broth. The broth was really quite spectacular, very rich, thick, robust and spectacularly flavourful, white and milky and thick which can only be a result of long hours of boiling those pork bones. The noodles were a bit firmer as compared to Santouka's which was much curlier , more like instant noodles in that sense. The pork did have alot of flavour even though it was cut so thin. However, comparing this to the Toroniku Tonkotsu Ramen, the pork cheeks wins hands down - not only was there alot more of it, but the taste and the sublime melt-in-your-mouth texture wins hands down - it was more intense and more porky - but then you're comparing apples and oranges. The black pig shabu ramen was still pretty good on its own. (8.5/10)

The salmon sashimi was fresh - good. (7/10)

We ended off with dessert. I had the Scoopz cake, which was simply sponge cake with cream and fruit. The sponge was really just sponge, very light, while the nice part was that even the cream was light so it didn't feel heavy or jelak. It would have been nice to have a bit more flavour in the sponge and cream coz it felt that I was just eating creamy milk, but yes it was a nice light meal indeed. Went very well with the peach embedded in the cake. (7.5/10)

More photos soon because my phone is a bit wonky today.


Jing said...

Hello Pooney, reading this make my tummy happy that I'm coming back to Sg soon! :)
Seeya soon!

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