methinks this is a really innovative venture at iluma shopping mall – round up a bunch of well known ramen chefs and pit them against each other iron chef style and allow the patrons to decide who is the king of ramen. the concept of the restaurant is similar to that of medz/shokudo/marche where you get a card to swipe as much food as you want, you grab a seat in the japanese-izakaya themed restaurant layout and then order your preferred ramen.
mind you, for the uninitiated, the nuances between the ramen of different districts can be quite daunting. and well, even for me, who has tried quite a few ramen stalls, i can’t tell you what makes different ramen of different districts unique. i only know that i like hakata ramen for their thin cut noodles and savory broth and am acquainted with sapporo ramen for their miso/shouyu/shio broths normally sweetened with the inclusion of corn.
so yeah, i was intimidated and well, went with my instincts and chose the Bario ramen, based on my friend’s prior recommendation.
this ramen has character. and indeed, interestingly as it sounds, the characteristics of the ramen resemble that of a stereotypical macho dude that zhams all the ingredients and asks for second helpings at everything. in other words, everything in this ramen is loud and boisterous, like a drunkard japanese man stumbling out of an izakaya. the soup broth is good stuff – and with the addition of copious (and this is encouraged by the chef – 3 scoops of garlic = decent DUDE) amounts of garlic, the flavor profile becomes more unique and well.. nice. and well, this ramen honestly can be shared amongst two in my opinion, because the noodles are thick and heavy and the beansprouts mountain is really quite daunting a task to finish. i somehow felt the thickness of the noodle made it difficult for the flavor of the soup to entirely seep into the noodle, leading to a somewhat less tasty experience when u eat the noodle cos u taste alot of flour. ohh.. and the char siew is kinda miserable compared to the other ingredients, 3 pieces of char siew that ain’t much to talk about. =)
in a nutshell, Bario – full of flavor, overwhelming, not too nuanced.
tsukemen from tetsu
my sis and dad opted for the tsukemen – a dipping ramen where ramen and broth are presented separately and one has to dip the ramen into the broth and sip vigorously. the broth is thicker than other ramen soups and is also somewhat more flavorful. wasn’t too impressed with this because it just felt like zhup (sauce) and noodles without any other ingredients, but the broth was pretty good. worth a shot if one hasn’t eaten such dipping ramen before.
my mom got this cos she didn’t want something too oily. hmm, this one actually is the most similar to the normal ramen we see at other ramen establishments. but the black shoyu does give it different, more edgy flavor profile. i think i preferred this the most in my opinion.
all in all, a decent place to soak in some japonisme and try all the quirky ramen you can stomach! 7/10
ramen champion | 201 victoria street, bugis iluma, #04-08/09/10 s188607 | japanese, ramen, themed