Takumen Ramen Gallery at Raffles Place is one store that will compel me to make a return visit over and over again for their authentic Japanese ramen. During my visit a couple of days back, I had the honour to go through all six ramen variants available at the restaurant. I was impressed with each one available, with some like the Hajime Tori Paitan Ramen leaving a distinct flavourful memory or the Chibakara Jiro-Inspired Ramen for their portion sizes. Established in 2010 in Japan, Takumen started as an online ramen delivery store where customers could enjoy over 100 varieties of traditional ramen in the comfort of their own homes. While the same concept may not be available yet in Singapore, the current Takumen Ramen Gallery will feature six specialties for the start – the Honda Shoten Ramen Kurume; Do Miso Ramen; Sakutaya Yokohama Iekei Ramen; Hajime Tori Paitan Ramen; Chibakara Jiro-Inspired Ramen; and the Bingiri Katsuura-style spicy Tantanmen. The best part, each of these ramen varieties will be available in the authentic Japanese flavour or the more localized-Singapore recipe. For all you ramen aficionados out there, this might be the latest place on the block to get your authentic ramen kick.
I first started with the Hajime Tori Paitan Ramen ($14.90++). This chicken-based ramen is uniquely fragrant, that upon first serve I was struck by its distinct aromatics. The colour was a crisp yellow, the broth slightly oily. As I tried the authentic recipe, it really struck me that this was probably the first time in which I had a chicken ramen in a store. The noodles were very springy upon bite, and the slices of chicken breast by the side was succulent and tender. I don’t know if it was too early to call it my favourite ramen for the night, but I it quickly garnered a top spot in my heart.
The tonkotsu (pork bone) broth ramen is more common in Singapore. Hence, when I tried the Honda Shoten Ramen Kurume ($15.90++), I was taken aback by how intensely flavoured the broth was for the original Japanese version. This particular ramen broth is created with a fusion of both traditional and modern techniques, resulting in a flavour that is strong, savoury, umami and a touch gamey. The pork essence in this sense is clearly represented. While it may seem unappealing to some, the broth grows on you and soon enough you will be sipping away like I did. Notably, the cha shu is smooth, a touch textured with a clean cut of fat and a distinct shoyu fragrance permeated throughout the meat.
The Sakutaya Yokohama Iekei Ramen ($16.90++) although a creation of both chicken and pork broth, will carry a flavour that closely resembles the ramen one usually gets in Singapore. The broth, made from bone marrows, chicken oil and a secret sauce, is lightly fragrant yet creamy to the sip. The noodles presented here are thicker and rounder, absorbing much of the good flavours into each bite. To my note, the cha shu is surprisingly less flavourful when compared with the one from the Honda Shoten. Still, the broth is well rounded and well balanced. Definitely something one can finish easily from top to bottom.
Ginza brand Do Miso ($17.90++) is known for their interpretations of the Miso ramen. Made from a special blend of five different kinds of red miso and a broth combining both chicken and pork bones, this is a creation that stands out distinctively on its own. The spices are strong, hearty and well presented as a strong, slightly smoky and salty flavour. The presence of corn, cabbage and bean sprouts cuts the intensity and sweetens the overall notes. It wasn’t a ramen I would go back for but it is definitely a novelty and a break from the norm. To those who love miso-based ramen, this might be a good try.
When I was in Japan last June, I didn’t have the fortune to try the Jiro Ramen. Known for its generous portions, a mountain of vegetables and thickly cut cha shu, I was very excited when I heard that a variant would be served in Takumen. While the Chibakara Jiro-inspired Ramen ($18.90++) failed to make me fall under generous-portion pressure, the portion size is still more than the regular ramen and can easily be passed off as a mini Jiro ramen. The original broth is salty and is a good complement to the flat noodles. Comparatively, I preferred the localized recipe as it was less salty with lesser of the shoyu fragrance. It was definitely more balanced and a touch creamier with a more rounded flavour. The heap of fresh, sweet cabbage and beansprouts was a winner when eaten together. Most impressively, the Cha Shu is thick and very substantial, making this in overall a very satisfying dish. Chopped garlic when added lends more nuance to the overall flavour. I would come back for this.
The most unique ramen for the day is the Bingiri Katsuura-style spicy Tantanmen ($19.90++). The shop is famous for a thick soup that combines a homemade chilli oil with three kinds of peppers including the popular Sichuan chilli and broad bean chilli paste. It is spicy, numbing and well peppered (pardon the pun) throughout with bits of minced meat and spring onion that lends a good texture to the overall dish. I would say that the broth is sweet, slightly salty and numbing and definitely for mala fans.
All in, Takumen Ramen Gallery in Singapore is one ramen shop that deserves a closer look. For its unique variety of seemingly similar dishes in the ramen category, they have presented styles that are uniquely distinct from the other. My favourites for the night goes to the Hajime Tori Paitan Ramen, the Honda Shoten Ramen Kurume and I’m split between the Sakutaya Yokohama Iekei Ramen and the Chibakara Jiro-inspired ramen. It is a shop that is easy to love and makes the mark for a return visit in my notebook. I do hope though that the full portion of Jiro ramen will make its appearance just for novelty’s sake. And just a note, the shop is open on Fridays and Saturdays till midnight, so it might do good for those with late night ramen cravings.
Thank you Takumen Ramen Gallery for the invitation
|Takumen Ramen Gallery|
|66 Circular Road
Reservations: 6536 4875
Mon to Thu 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30pm to 10.30pm
Fri 11.30am to 3pm, 5.30pm to midnight
Sat 5.30pm – midnight
Sun 11.30am to 3pm
Public Holidays 11.30am to 3pm