*This tasting was sponsored by RamenPlay
I have given it much thought, which is my favourite ramen-ya in Singapore? Previously I had concluded that it all boiled down to the big 3, Santouka Ramen, Tampopo and Marutama Ramen, each bearing individual merits, with Santouka at the forefront in terms of their succulent Kurobuta pork cheeks and robust pork bone stock, Marutama for their amazing Tamago which goes well with their Tokyo-style chicken stock ramen, and Tampopo for its rich soup base and lava yolked tamago.
And harbouring a natural prejudice against chain restaurants, Ramenplay didn’t rank highly on my places-to-dine-at-next agenda. But fortunately for me, today I had the opportunity to sample their new menu offerings and uncovered a gem in the making.
We started off with the Okura Mentai ($4.80++), Poached Ladies Fingers topped with a creamy mix of Mayonnaise, Cod Roe and Cheese which is seared for a nice smokey aroma. It’s like Pringles, once you pop, you can’t stop!
Next, we had the Lobster Salad ($6.80++). I was surprised at the generous chunks of Lobster employed for this dish. Mixed with some fish roe and wasabi, wantan skin, radish and cucumbers, it makes for a refreshing start to any meal.
Sprinkling and pouring in the Bonito Flakes, Chives and Shoyu at my own discretion, the Nabemushi Tofu ($6.80++) was one of the smoothest silken tofu’s I have ever come across. The portion is also ridiculously huge, more than enough for most ladies to use as a main dish to be eaten with rice.
I’m more of a chawanmushi person so I preferred the Nabemushi Prawn ($6.80++) which uses egg instead of tofu.
For our last Starter, we had the Ramen Play Bamboo Chicken ($3/piece). Minced chicken is stuffed into the bamboo and subsequently grilled. Think of it as a much more tender version of Tori Q. Using the raw egg yolk as a dip for the chicken adds an extra creamy dimension.
I’m a fan of tonkotsu broth so I very much liked the Cha Shu Tonkotsu Ramen ($10.80++/$13.80++). I was amazed at how tender the Cha Shu turned out, with its layer of fats interlacing between the meat fibres and glistening under the light. I was almost fooled into thinking that the cheat code Kurobuta Pork (used by Santouka and Tampopo) was being used but apparently its just normal pork executed well.
For fans of Pork Cheeks (which I am), you can happily settle for the Toroniku Double Soup Ramen ($16.00++), which comprises of a umami-licious soup base made from shouyu, fish oil and tonkotsu. Apparently, each pig only possesses 200-300g of pork cheeks so it is considered highly prized. Like the Cha Shu, the pork cheeks are braised perfectly as well.
Exhibiting stronger flavours than the usual Hokkaido-styled ramen, Ramen Play achieves this by using 7 different types of Miso in concocting the soup base for their Corn Miso Ramen ($11.80++). The 7 different types of Miso varies in their length of aging and fermentation, with the older darker Misos’ possessing a deeper and more intense flavour. Accompanied by mildly spiced minced pork, chives, black fungus, corn, beansprout, cabbage and carrots, this will definitely appeal to diners who like their ramens spicy.
I believe that not many people are aware that RamenPlay offers many non-ramen dishes. Hence, they are actively trying to move away from their current portrayal of being solely a ramen-ya. The Black Sesame Fried Rice ($10.80++) is made by stir frying rice together with sesame paste, black sesame seeds, eggs and chicken. Premium Niigata Japanese rice is used for this dish, which has a soft texture suitable for making fried rice.
Ironically, my favourite dish here wasn’t the ramen but the Butariki Ishinabe ($12.80++), a stone pot full of sizzling Nigaata rice accompanied by pan-fried and barbequed pork, onion, chives, seaweed topped with a raw egg and doused in a special sauce. Its very much similar to “pepper lunch” style, where you decide how long you want to allowed the rice to cook before mixing the contents of the stone pot. We allowed the rice to sit for a while before stirring to achieve that delightful lightly charred taste.
Youngsters might prefer the Pork Katsu Toji Set ($13.80++), a chewy deep fried pork cutlet with egg on hotplate. This was probably one of the few dishes that failed to impress me today, but then again, Tonkichi has probably spoilt me much with their awesome fried cutlets.
The Chicken Katsu Curry ($12.80++) served here is unlike any Japanese Curry I have eaten. Served with a chicken cutlet over rice and a crispy toast, it’s a fusion of the spicy indian curry and sweet japanese curry, which works pretty well if you find japanese curry way too mild for your tastebuds. But personally, I’m more of a nonya curry person :)
For desserts, I sampled their Black Sesame Pudding ($3.80++) and Yuzu Jelly ($3.80++), which are also available in Green Tea and Soya Bean flavours.
Do order a beverage to accompany your meal. In the order from top to bottom, I tried the Oreo Milkshake ($4.80++), Green Tea Milkshake ($4.80++), Super Yuzu with a shot of Shochu ($4.80++ excluding shochu) and Yuzu Yoghurt ($4.80++). My favourites were the Yuzu Yoghurt and Oreo Milkshake and will definitely order them again on my next visit.
The new menu offerings will be made available progressively at the various RamenPlay outlets, 24th September @ 313 Somerset, 27th September @ Nex Mall and 30th September @ Junction 8.
Thanks to RamenPlay for this lunch invitation.
23 Serangoon Central, #B2-58 Nex Mall
Tel: +65 6634 4089