Tampopo vs Marutama – A Tale of 2 Ramen Heavyweights

12 06 2010

When 2 men ride a horse, one has to ride behind, or so I’m told. Comparing ramens isn’t as easy as it sounds and for the ramen discerning connoisseur, attempting to compare the different styles of ramen is tantamount to comparing a Hainan Chicken Rice with Ayam Pangang.

From a superficial level, Tampopo seems to have gained the upper hand to Marutama, with the former winning a number of dining awards prominently displayed at the shopfront.  Unlike traditional ramen-yas serving mainly ramen and dumplings, I was deeply surprised at how Tampopo is still able to sustain their high ramen standards despite the extensiveness of the menu with the variety ranging from ramen, katsus and sashimi etc.

Marutama exudes the vibes of a more traditional ramen-ya. Dimly lit, small, cosy with only a limited number of tables and predominently Japanese clientele(so i’m guessing it must be pretty good and authentic as well).  

Tampopo serves 2 distinctive types of ramen; Kyushu(aka Hakata) and Hokkaido. What’s the difference you might ask? Kyushu ramen is thin and hard and paired with a thick tonkotsu(pork bone) soup base. Hokkaido Ramen on the other hand utilises thick and chewy noodles(this curlier ramen makes it more effective in soaking up the soup compared to the thin kyushu ramen) paired with a pork and chicken soup base.

I had the Black Pig Shabu Ramen($13.80++) – It’s a Kyushu-style ramen. They were having a special promo(compulsary for black pig shabu ramen) where they gave double servings of black pig shabu and charged me $15.80++ instead I think. Just mildly spicy, I’d say the ramen stock here is good as it gets with delightful slices of black pig shabu(think sliced pork u get in congee but whole lot more imba). This ramen doesn’t come with tamago($1.80++) so I ordered one as a side and it’s really one of the best around too with it’s creamy lava yolk!

The Original Kyushu ramen($13.30++) is more value for money than the Black Pig Shabu Ramen since it already comes with a tamago, a dollop of mentaiko(Pollock roe) and a huge ass piece of Chashu. K commented it’s the best ramen he had eaten in his life and undoubtly so(since he hasn’t tried Santouka or Marutama yet)!

Marutama serves a Tokyo-style ramen which uses a chicken-based stock instead of the usual pork bone one. The Marutama Ramen($12++) topped with scallions and seaweed had noodles which were slightly curlier than it’s Kyushu-styled counterparts and very much resembled Maggi Mee. The stock was very savoury with strong umami flavours, and hints of MSG because I became rather thirsty afterwards. The Chashu was good, with the fats as soft as butter, much better than the one I had at Baikohken recently. I couldn’t stop myself from finishing the broth, which is a first for me.

Something else worth ordering would be the Gyoza($5++). 6 pieces of Gyoza drenched in vinegar and chili oil is a great way to start off the meal on a high note.

I know it’s a cliche but I can’t say for sure which is better as both have their merits. Entrenched at the pinnacle of ramen excellence in Singapore, for now can I just have both? 

 Bon Appetit!





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