Oh, for the love of Ramen
If you follow me on Instagram you probably know how much I ate while in Singapore - a lot. It appeared as though I didn't do anything else and, honestly, that's a fair assessment because there wasn't much I did that wasn't revolve around food. One of the many things on my list to consume while in Asia was ramen. Being the awesome hosts they are, my family made sure I got my fix and we ended up eating ramen a few times while there.
Be forewarned, I took the pictures with my iPhone. In a way, I'm glad I even remembered to take pictures at all. Anyway...
The Husband and I went to a little place in Serangoon Gardens called Daikokuya. The ramen menu was basic enough, three kinds of ramen broth - shoyu (soya sauce), salt and miso that came in various combinations (with egg, no egg, extra chashu/pork, spicy, not spicy blahblah). I stuck with what I knew and got shoyu with egg and a side of chili which is a spicy chili oil with tons of garlic and red chili flakes in it that I emptied into my noodles. I thought it was a decent bowl of noodles, ok flavor, not overpoweringly salty. My mom had warned us that it wasn't going to be good but I thought it wasn't bad. Although... and I think it was all the oil I consumed in one sitting but it kind of hurt me after. I'll leave it at that.
Next was at a little place in a mall called Santouka Hokkaido Ramen. This is where we usually go when we're back and this would be my third time there. In the spirit of branching out, I had the salt ramen which I instantly regretted because it was WAY too salty for my tastes.
I usually can finish an entire bowl of ramen, broth and all but I had to stop halfway because between the delicious egg, the side of pork cheek we ordered and the pork belly in the noodles, it was all too rich for me. Next time I'm sticking to shoyu when there because I know it's good.
The third place was my absolute favorite out of the three. Ippudo has two branches in Singapore, Ippudo and Ippudo Tao. This would be my second time at the latter, and I had the Ippudo Tao Original Ramen which is a huge bowl of thin, curly noodles in Tonkatso broth with a spicy miso paste mixed in and, according to the menu, "accented with a fragrant garlic oil." What I loved about dining her was that no only do you get different types of noodles with each style of ramen (there are four), you also get your noodles made to the texture of your preference (soft, medium and hard). I opted for hard and it was perfect. Not too rich, great flavor, good spice, just utterly delicious.
Oh, and Ippudo has the gooeyest boiled egg that my sister so generously let me have a bite of. It's seasoned but just barely so you still taste the egg with a hint of whatever seasoning they use. Heaven.
I'm no ramen expert, I just know what I like from dining at several different places when visiting home over the past few years. Ramen isn't just about the chewy, al dente (or soft, if that's how you like it) noodles or just the rich, thick broth, or the slightly fatty, tender chashu that goes in it. It's not just about the seasoned soft boiled egg that should burst its silky, gooey yolk a little bit when you bite into it - it's a combination of all those things that REALLY get your senses going.
At risk of using this incorrectly, ramen is, in my head, about umami. The flavors should all combine to get that party in your mouth going and that happiness that stays in your belly during the meal and after. You shouldn't easily forget how everything tasted and how it felt to eat it. Like right now, I'm smiling and extremely happy just thinking of my dinner that night at Ippudo, and how wonderful everything tasted and how good I felt. THAT, to me, is good ramen.
Some will argue that Ippudo in Singapore isn't even that great so I can't wait to try more and have even better ramen the next chance I get! My sister told me about a ramen place in Singapore where the chefs compete or something so next time I'm back I'm definitely going there with her.
Now, when YOU get your chance for ramen, just go for it and eat everything that's served to you in that giant bowl and I really hope you get that same, awesome, sensory experience I described because it's the BEST.