Ramen Showdown: Nantsuttei

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It’s official. Nantsuttei is now top of my list of best ramen in Singapore. It’s also pretty reasonably priced as far as ramen in Singapore goes. The queue here isn’t as feral as the one at Ippudo. For lunch, as long as you avoid 12.30 to 1.30 you’re all good, and for weekday dinners after 8pm is normally OK too.

I first tried the comes-with-everything noodles plus an egg. It came with a huge sprinkling of spring onions that seemed to occlude the rest of the toppings of chashu, beansprouts and special garlic oil. The first thing I bit into was the egg and it was eggy goodness all the way as the white was lightly salty from the braising and the yolk just set so the very inside was still slightly runny. So far it’s the best egg of the major ramen shops. As far as the chashu was concerned, it was rather run of the mill. Nothing much to write home about on the taste and tenderness.

Next was the noodle. It was just the right firmness for me, with enough bite for interest and not so hard that I felt that it was undercooked. The wonderful thing about the doneness of the noodles was that the noodles still tasted good when I got to the bottom of the bowl.

Then the soup. I wasn’t sure about this because it was quite salty and not particularly rich as ramen broths go. It was pretty acceptable though. I also wasn’t too keen on the slightly burnt and carcinogenic taste of the black garlic oil that makes the place famous.

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On another visit, I tried the dragon ramen. It’s basically the same ramen minus the OTT spring onion topping and with spicy bean and minced meat paste. Now this may not be particularly traditional, but it made all the difference to the soup, making it my all-time favourite. I liked the flavour of the spicy paste because the taste of the fermented bean really came through. It also muted the burnt garlic taste, making it Very Yummy.

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Nantsuttei doesn’t have a great deal to offer in terms of sides, only chopped chashu rice and gyoza. The gyoza isn’t too bad, it’s nicely burnt in parts on the outside and meatily juicy on the inside. Decent enough when you’re hungry and want more than ramen to fill the belly.

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Nantsuttei
P3-06 #03-02
Millenia Walk 9 Raffles Boulevard
Tel: 6337 7166

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Ramen Showdown: Baikohken

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Tym and I had ramen at one of her favourite places. She’s been there so many times she’d completed her rewards card and redeemed a free gyoza side for our appetiser. These small morsels were quite decent, crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. The dough was a bit too sticky and I couldn’t shake off the feeling that these were probably  factory frozen.

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We both had the regular shio ramen with agitama (boiled egg with runny yolk). There was so much steam rising from the noodles that I had difficulty taking a good picture. Many blurred pictures later, Tym helped by blowing the steam out of the way. Another good reason to dine with a friend!

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The first thing I noticed was the odd looking egg perched on my noodles. Taking a tentative bite, I realised that there was something wrong with the texture and sent it back. Thankfully, they replaced it quickly with a proper egg , which was just fine. I’m not sure why the chef didn’t spot the bad egg (!) in the first place since the egg was an extra order. It says a lot about their quality control since something so obviously wrong got through.

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I liked the noodles and the chashu. The noodles were springy and had good bite while the chashu was incredibly tender and surprisingly not very fatty for its tenderness. That’s a plus in my books. The menma (preserved bamboo shoots) was OK although I’d prefer them in smaller, more manageable chunks. I wasn’t too keen on the shio soup base. It tasted too much like Nissin instant noodle base. Maybe next time I’ll order the miso or shoyu version.

This lunch cost us $27.80 for two shio ramen with extra egg and free gyoza. I think Ken’s still makes better ramen.

Baihoken
7 North Canal Road


Ramen Showdown: Miharu

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Not being too satisfied with Tampopo, I persuaded Shinta, KK and Eeyore to eat at Miharu the next day. (Don’t ask me why they have these pseudonyms, I didn’t choose them.) As is typical when eating with Shinta, we had a steady stream of appetisers.

The stir-fried beans were excellent. The beans were crisp-tender and just cooked through, the way perfect beans should be; and the thickened mince meat sauce was a great complement. Shinta gobbled up the last bits of meat and I wiped out the beans.

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The gyoza was so-so. It wasn’t as crisp as I’d like despite the picture and the filling wasn’t very tasty either.  We half-coerced Eeyore to finish the last one.

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I liked the braised belly pork with mustard. They used an extra-strong mustard that cut through the fat as well as the salty-sweet braising liquid. The pork was soft enough for me though not up to standard for Shinta and KK, who’d just got back from another trip to Japan.

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Moving on to the ramen, I ordered the spicy version. I guess it was some kind of misguided attempt for consistency between my earlier Tampopo experience and here. At Miharu, they serve it Sapporo-style, so I really should have ordered the miso without chilli.

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Never mind. This version was decent. It was topped with chashu, menma (marinated bamboo shoots), sweetcorn, spring onions, half an egg and piece of seaweed. All was fine: I especially liked the texture and sweetness of the corn though I’d prefer the egg to have a runnier yolk.

The noodles were quite heavy, though still springy and tender. I can imagine how good it’ll be to come in out of the Hokkaido snow for a big bowl of this stuff but it didn’t work as well in hot humid Singapore. It was also on the day it was 35 ºC! The soup was, as expected from online reviews, a bit on the salty side. The restaurant provides plenty of cold tap water and, on request, gives out stock to tone down the salt. I liked the soup but would probably need to come back another day to try it without the overpowering chilli. It was just an unnecessary distraction that didn’t add much to the ramen. Unfortunately, this ramen wasn’t good enough for me to finish either.

Sapporo Ramen Miharu
1 Nanson Road Singapore 238909
(Robertson Quay)
Tel: 6849 8686