Last Tuesday night, I was in the mood for some Japanese food. And I didn’t want to go to the usual places in the major shopping malls. I was looking for somewhere more quiet, secluded and out of common’s way. My initial thought was to visit the Holiday Inn Orchard City Centre as they had a small Japanese restaurant known as Taira Izakaya, which I spotted a couple months back while there. Alas, it was not to be as the restaurant has now shifted out, and I was left stuck for the night thinking hard and fast on where to dine next. Time was ticking and it was nearly half past eight.
But I remembered that somewhere along Cuppage Terrace just on the way to the Hotel, there was this Ramen shop which boldly stated on the shop front Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, along with some Japanese (and Chinese) characters. With mind made up and stomach all the more hungry, I decided to take the plunge into a bowl of ramen (haha..pardon the pun).
At Santouka I simply had to try the house specialty of Toronokiu Shio (Regular $19.50). To what the lovers of ramen would note, Toroniku is the portion of cheek meat from the pig. And there is a very limited quantity from a single pig. For the exceptional taste which bodes light silky textures that simply makes each piece melts in the mouth, this is supposed to be the prize. At Santouka, the portion of meat is not served together within the ramen but separately so that each piece can be savoured without the fat within disappearing in the equally rich broth.
The flavour is a little smoky and there is certainly more fat than the normal lean meat. It does melt in the mouth somewhat though I am not very sure if it is supposed to be a little tough.
The Shio ramen itself had springy noodles which was good to the bite. Not as thick and round than the one I tried at Nantsuttei, but still lovely to the bite. The salt pork broth was a rich white that simply presents a calming effect. Its good, but as its salt, its salty. A kick for the ramen though and it really brings out the deeper meatier flavours of the pork cheek when taken together. I just had plenty of water ready.
The Komi Tamago ($1.50) or specialty flavoured egg was however not towards my liking. I’ve had some great molten lava yolk centers that just had to be eaten but this serving was a little firmed up and solid.
As a side, I also ordered the Yaki Gyoza ($5.50 for 5 pieces). Gyoza are always good and its hard to go wrong here. These pan fried dumplings were brimming with ingredients and they went especially well with an addictive side of crushed preserved garlic.
As if the ramen wasn’t enough, I also had the Char Siu Gohan ($5.00). Quick and satisfying, I have no complains for this. Just a good bowl if ramen is not your cup of tea while dining with a partner.
I thought the Pork Cheek was something special and I had to try it in different presentations. This led me to go for the Toroniku Pao ($4 per pc) where a slab of the fatty pork cheek is wrapped within a steamed bun and stuffed with lettuce and a good dollop of mayonnaise. The sauce was a little too creamy though and it hidden quite a good portion of the toroniku’s flavours.
While I will come back here for another shot of the Toronkiu Ramen or some of their other variants, I think Santouka has its own following of fans. Ramen varieties are plentiful and shio is simply one of the many. It has its own beauty but somehow I think the toroniku is better than what was served. Yet, for a Tuesday night, the place was quite packed at 845pm. Outdoor seatings are available but I simply wouldn’t think of it at the moment in this unforseeable weather. Then again, when the cold wind blows, I wouldn’t mind settling down for a bowl of piping hot ramen. Oh by the way I learnt from the restaurant that their broth is never ever left to boiling point, just simmered to a brisk hot. That’s all.
|Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
21, Cuppage Road
(Opposite 313 @ Somerset)