Ramen Santouka @ Central, Singapore
I had a terrible day at work and almost couldn't join Nibble & Scribble and Skinny Epicurean for dinner. I was lucky that these 2 gals are such patient and great foodie pals, they were willing to wait for me while I sorted out my work matters. Our work demands sometimes gets us down but its great to have each other to share our troubles with over a nice meal. We sometimes jokingly call ourselves the "Awesome Threesome" in an effort to lift our spirits and to fight the good fight...whilst we combine efforts to feast on as many delicious dishes as possible. :P
We wanted to check out Ramen Santouka as we had read rave reviews about it. We were especially curious about the house specialty called Tokusen Toroniku, which was limited to 60 portions per day. Fortunately, we were able to get a table without having to queue.
Adopting a "When in Rome" policy, Joone and I ordered the Tokusen Toroniku Ramen. I asked for the Shio version (S$18++) while Joone asked for the Kara-Miso version (S$19++). Mia is a pescitarian so she ordered a meat-free shoyu ramen. Admittedly, S$18++ for a bowl of ramen seemed pricey but we had to try the Tokusen Toroniku as the description on the menu was most enticing with its promise of tenderness and tastiness. Coupled with the opportunity to indulge in a delicacy that has been compared to Toro (fatty tuna), the house special was irresistible.
Shio (Salt) Ramen
The pork-based soup was amazingly rich. Apparently it was prepared by simmering pork bones and other pork parts over 15 hours to yield a milky and collagen-rich soup. If you're very concerned with your fat intake, I'm sorry to disappoint but this soup is very oily as the oil is not just floating above the soup, its also emulsified in the soup. The soup is not as salty as Miharu's and its richness can weigh heavily on your stomach after a while. In spite of its oiliness and richness, I found myself slurping up almost every drop of soup. The fragrant topping of toasted white sesame seeds helped to enhance the pleasure. Incidentally, shio ramen is the most popular flavour both here and in Japan.
Tokusen Toroniku (topping for the ramen)
The Tokusen Toroniku is served on a separate plate with toppings of Japanese Green Onion (negi), seasoned bamboo shoots (shinachiku), shredded black fungus, Japanese Fishcake (kamaboko) and a single pickled Japanese Plum (umeboshi). I tossed all the toppings into my ramen bowl, except for the precious pork slices. As Tokusen (特選) means "premium quality, with an implication of limited quantity"; I wanted to savour at leisure. The pork slices were cool but very juicy and tender. It had a smoky and salty flavour which reminded me of gourmet smoked bacon. It didn't have a strong piggy taste, which is an important point of consideration for me as I am not a huge fan of pork generally. The flesh seemed to melt on the tongue. It elicited raves from all my friends who have tried it. This is definitely a MUST-TRY!
Tokusen Toroniku (a la carte portion)
If you want to try the Tokusen Toroniku but aren't too keen on ramen, fret not for they serve a la carte portions of these slivers of porky goodness. Some of my friends have ordered the a la carte portion in addition to the ramen because they couldn't get enough of the pork!
I've gone back to Ramen Santouka quite a few times since but on my latest visit, I wanted to try the Cha Shu Ramen (Char Siew) for a change. The Char Siew slices were pretty flavourful but not as tender as I would have hoped. Once you've had the Toroniku, there is no turning back! If you can only dine at a Ramen Santouka outlet once in your life, go for the Tokusen Toroniku Shio Ramen.
Joone and I ordered the Tamago Koji (stewed egg) as a side dish. It was a big disappointment as it was not runny enough nor flavoursome enough. We abandoned the rest of the eggs after consuming a half-portion each. Unless you're a major fan of eggs and must have eggs with your ramen, I say don't bother with the stewed eggs here.
The Gyozas here are well-done, as they had nicely browned bases, a soft skin and a tasty filling. Its worth a try especially if you're a dumpling fan like I am. :)
The place does get pretty busy (in spite of its obscure location within a maze of a building, you have to get lost around the building to know what I mean) so you would be well-advised to head there early to avoid the crowd. Ladies, you'll be pleased to know that you can place your bags into a bag basket which will allow you to enjoy your meal in greater comfort.This is definitely my favourite ramen place in Singapore!
Ramen Santouka 6 Eu Tong Sen St #02-76, The Central Singapore 059817 Tel: (+65) 62240668 * Its located in the same wing as Ma Maison (but its one level below Ma Maison). If you're walking on the 2nd floor, look out for "Grains" and you'll find this restaurant at the end of the walkway that divides Grains into 2. Operating Hours: Daily: 11.00 am - 9.30 pm