1. Sanpoutei Ramen
Sanpoutei uses two kinds of dried sardines in its shoyu broth, alongside pork, whole chickens and vegetables. The dried fish add a deep umami flavour to the broth. Far from being fishy, it is full of oomph and has an intriguing smoky flavour.
The thin, flat noodles, made on the premises, look rough hewn and have the springy texture that I like. Thick slices of menma are juicy and they take the trouble to torch the charsiu. An excellent bowl.
#01-01, 253 Holland Avenue
2. Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King — Matsuri
Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King – Matsuri in Parkway Parade stands out with its bright decor, which includes a huge, colourful paper lantern featuring Japanese cultural characters in the dining area.
Matsuri refers to events in Japan that celebrate seasonal or cultural highlights with festivals or processions.
The festive mood is reflected in four new ramen creations by Keisuke Takeda, chef and founder of Ramen Keisuke. These are tonkotsu, or pork-broth ramen, with added elements inspired by matsuri in different parts of Japan.
For example, Sapporo, which hosts Yuki Matsuri, is known for its snowscapes and miso ramen. So the chef came up with a ramen named after it ($13.90) that is topped with powdered cheese and miso.
And Tonkotsu Ramen Nebuta ($13.90), named after the matsuri in Aomori, comes with a stock made with sardines that the area is known for.
The Tonkotsu Ramen Sanjya ($14.90) comes with a trio of spicy sauces to represent three prominent figures celebrated in the Sanjya Matsuri in Asakusa.
But if you want just a plain Tonkotsu Ramen, that is available too.
B1-18A, 80 Marine Parade Road
3. UMA! UMA! Original Hakata Ramen
What happens when you do a mash-up of ramen and local tar mee? You get Mazesoba ($16) , a delicious bowl of dry ramen. Toss the noodles – curly, springy ramen, which I much prefer to thin Hakata-style noodles – tender charsiu, bamboo shoots, scallions and leeks together with the sauce, which has zing from vinegar and mellow heat from chilli oil. Then make sure to break the half-boiled egg, so that the liquid yolk coats the noodles too.
The shop’s Spicy Charsiu Ramen ($16), full of oomph from spicy miso paste, has also been tweaked. Its cooks used local chilli powder for the ramen broth but have switched to a Japanese brand. The idea is to give the broth more oomph. Its heat is more mellow and deep, coming not as a shock to the palate but as a warm feeling in the belly.
#01-41/42/43, 583 Orchard Road
Takumen, a ramen shop in Circular Road, is a bit different from other ramen shops. It does not have its own ramen, but instead curates signature creations from six brands in Japan.
So you can have a very different taste depending on what you order.
The ramen worth trying is the Iekei Ramen ($13.90) from Sakutaya, which is created by chef Naoaki Sakuta, an alumnus of the famous Rokkakuya shop in Yokohama. The unusual oval-shaped noodles come in a thick tonkotsu broth made with chicken and pork bones. What makes it even more alluring is the chicken oil added to the noodles before serving.
Spinach is also part of the dish, which is quite unusual. It is a good idea though, as the greens not only add fibre but also go well with the rich broth.
If you want something light, try the Toripaitan Ramen ($11.90) from Hajime in Osaka. The clear chicken broth is less oily and rich, but has a sweetness that’s addictive.
100 Tras street The Public Izakaya 2
5. Ramen Keisuke Lobster King
After more than five years of doing business in Singapore, chef Keisuke Takeda opens his 10th restaurant here, Ramen Keisuke Lobster King.
The 62-seat restaurant opened earlier this year in February and serves lobster stock ramen in four different styles: lobster broth ramen with clear soup ($13.90), lobster broth ramen with rich creamy soup ($14.90), miso lobster broth ramen ($14.90) and spicy miso lobster broth ramen ($15.90). The ramen comes with pork belly, chicken char siew, black pepper prawn wontons and bamboo shoots.
The flavourful broth is inspired by French lobster bisque, made with rock lobsters from France. The shells are pan-fried, crushed fine and simmered for at least six hours with a blend of herbs and vegetables.
A small selection of side dishes includes stir-fried mushrooms with garlic butter ($8.80).
Other restaurants by chef Takeda include ramen outlets Tonkotsu King, Tori King and Tonkotsu King Four Seasons as well as popular tendon restaurant Tendon Ginza Itsuki and gyoza restaurant Gyoza King.
#01-07, The Cannery, Clarke Quay, 3C River Valley Road
6. Menya Mushashi
Try the White Cha Shu Tsukemen ($14.90).
The noodles make the dish. The strands are thick, slightly chewy and made without too much alkaline water. They go perfectly with the complex and nuanced dipping sauce, which is deeply savoury with a hint of natural sweetness. It also has a viscous texture that clings onto the noodles, delivering mouthful after mouthful of joy.
Menya Musashi with eight outlets, including #01-16, Raffles City. Shopping Centre.
7. Kanshouku Ramen
Say what you like about truffle-flavoured dishes not using the real deal. Its aroma still turns heads when a truffle dish is served to a neighbouring table.
Kanshoku Ramen Orchard Gateway serves a dry truffle ramen ($16.90), among its tonkotsu ramen options. There is a truffle broth ramen, too.
The dry version seems pretty much like those angel hair pasta with truffle dishes that you get at French restaurants.
The thin ramen is tossed in truffle oil and bits of real truffle and comes with two slices of tender charshu.
It could do with some corn or the classic ajitama, but that would require an additional $2 each.
Not enough truffle still? Complete your meal with a side of the black truffle edamame ($5.90).
#01-06, Orchard Gateway, 277 Orchard Road
With over 100 stores in Japan and worldwide and 30 years of innovation under its belt, trust Ippudo’s secret recipe to contain some magic — think springy ramen noodles in a textured, vibrant broth.
What else we love: the array of tapas-esque sides, from pork buns to crispy corn and sushi rolls.
#01-55/56 UE Square, 207 River Valley Road
9. Kanshouku Ramen Bar
“Kanshouku” means “to finish eating every last bit of your food” in Japanese. A pretty apt name for this ramen bar, we’d say.
As much as we love our ramen broth, we can’t say no to the unique truffle ramen — almost like a Japanese take on truffled angel hair pasta — a dry version of ramen generously seasoned with truffle oil and black truffle crumbs.
#01-06 Orchard Central, 277 Orchard Road
One of the 16 amazing restaurants in Japan Food Town, we’d be making a pretty big claim to recommend this ramen eatery of all options. And we’d doing just that!
Their Lekei Ramen — where the noodes are cooked to your preferred doneness in a tonkotsu and soya sauce mix broth — is a thing of beauty; paiur your ramen with fried gyoza and finish every last drop of your brother with a bowl of rice.
#04-04 Wisma Atria, 435 Orchard Road