Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ippudo: The Best Japanese Ramen in Singapore


Many Japanese ramen restaurants in Singapore claim to serve the best ramen in Singapore. I gave them all benefits of the doubt, and checked them out. I haven't heard such claim from Ippudo, but I would be quite happy to give them such title, "ichi ban" (or "numba won"). Well, until I come across a better one.

The logo consists of 'ichi', and wind.

In Singapore, Japanese cuisine is probably the most authentic outside their 3 major ethnic cuisines of Chinese, Indian and Malay dishes. With the vast variety of regional Chinese dishes, as far as Singapore cuisine's authenticity (at least standard of taste), only Min-Namese (peoples from southern Fujian, Teochews, West coast of Taiwan, and NE of Hainan) cooking are considered the most authentic because majority of Chinese-speaking Singaporeans come from this region of China.

With Japanese franchise restaurants, such authenticity of  taste are usually upheld because the Japanese restaurant chains are very serious about making their restaurants conforming to their standard back in Japan. Ippudo happens to be such a typical example. Since there're tons of Japanese franchise restaurants in Singapore, and so it makes Japanese food in Singapore quite authentic. The Japanese restaurant chains refuse to adapt their food to the locals' palate, they want the locals' palates to adapt to their food. I think it's a good idea. If you want to try foreign food, it shouldn't because they taste like local food.


The Vibe:  The Ippudo that's located in the heartland of Osaka CBD was best described as eat-and-run style of restaurant. Something that's more like a Japanese fast-food joint. Their standard of their noodles, however, is indistinguishable from Singapore's.

The Ippudo in Mandarin Gallery on Orchard Road is a far cry from the Ippudo in Osaka city centre that we ate (and run) as far as decor is concerned. It completes with chandelier and customised decor. While it has elements of a fine dining restaurant, it still retains some semblance of a typical ramen shop such as the seating arrangement (and when you enter, staff yelling at you in Japanese greetings that customers don't understand. So don't take it negatively). You could call this place a glamorous ramen shop, which they appropriately call themselves ramen dining restaurant. Their prices also reflect that setup.

Ippudo, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore


Ippudo, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore Ippudo, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore

Receipt, Ippudo, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore


The Food:  We ordered our usual: a ramen and a fried lotus roots from their lunch menu.

Rekon Chips:  9 / 10. This is chips that made from fried lotus roots. Light and quite crispy. A great alternative to your usual boring potato chips.

Fried lotus root chips, Ippudo, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore


Akamaru Special:   9.5 / 10. My favourite soup base for ramen is their tonkotsu (pork bone soup), which takes many hours to get the flavours out of the pork bones, and its collagen to dissolve into the soup to give it that lovely sticky texture. By adding miso to tonkotsu, it gives the soup its distinct taste.

In many ramen places, I find their pork belly too dry. This pork belly is moist and has the right balance of fat.

One of the success of these ramen restaurants from Japan is providing customers' choices of customisation for their ramen soups. For example, you can ask for the level of hardness in your noodle from soft to very hard. As usual, we go for medium, which we believe to have the perfect amount of al dente (or "toothiness").

Another thing that customers can choose is the toppings. You can order - like we did - a Akamaru Special, but we also ordered an additional Tamago or flavoured eggs (with slightly runny yolks).

In addition, we also ordered an extra serving of Kaedama or plain noodle.

miso konkotsu ramen, Ippudo, Mandarin Gallery, Singapore


Overall:  9 / 10. It's certainly not cheap for a ramen lunch. The chandelier would warn you about the prices. Still, it's too good not to try it at least once. Just don't make it your regular lunch. If it doesn't make your hip wider, it certainly make your wallet thinner. If you enjoy ramen and want to impress your date as well, come here to kill 2 birds with one stone. If you want to have a good bowl of ramen at more affordable prices with no frills, go to Ippudo in Osaka, Japan.



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