RamenPlay’s Seasonal Summer Menu

20 07 2012

I found myself heading back to RamenPlay at Nex to sample their Seasonal Summer Menu which will be available from 23 July till 30 September 2012. My previous tasting at RamenPlay last year had been positive one, where I discovered that chain restaurants can surprisingly offer quality rivaling standalone “authentic” ramen-yas.

For their summer menu, RamenPlay has introduced 3 new mains, 2 desserts and 2 drinks. Before digging into the new items however, we tried out some of their existing appetizers.

For fried chicken fans, do order the Mustard Chicken Salad. It’s a generous slab of chicken thigh that is fried to perfection, crisp on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside and yet doesn’t give off an excessively oily feel.

My favourite appetizer here is the Okura Mentai. Poached ladies fingers topped with mayo, cheese and cod roe and subsequently seared lightly for that nice char. Tiffany, one of the hosts for lunch, started raving on about how awesome mentaiko is. Her tip of the day: Go to Ikea, buy their Mentaiko paste which is sold in a tube form and squeeze onto bread as a spread.

The Bamboo Chicken is pretty good as well. Tender minced chicken is compacted into bamboo sticks and grilled to a lovely shade of golden brown. While some might cringe at using the raw egg yolk as a dip, I personally think that the creamy yolk goes really well with the chicken.

New Summer Menu Items

A slight deviation from the usual Tonkotsu, RamenPlay has come up with the Herbal Infused Tonkotsu Ramen. As the name suggests, herbs such as wolfberries, fennel seeds and dang gui (aka Chinese Angelica) are boiled with RamenPlay’s signature Tonkotsu broth to impart a mild herbal flavour. Garnished with Honshimeiji Mushrooms, Eringi Mushrooms, King Oyster Mushrooms, Cabbage, Braised Pork and a Prawn, this light tasting ramen is something I would desire when I’m down with a cold.

RamenPlay’s 2 other new mains are identical as they both employ the use of Umani Seafood Gravy. For the Umani Crispy Ramen Ishinabe, the Umani Seafood Gravy is poured over ramen that is flash-fried and for the Umani Rice Ishinabe, the Umani Gravy is poured over premium Nigata rice. The gravy is influenced by Chinese cooking styles and tastes somewhat similar to the oyster sauce gravy you would get in a claypot tofu dish. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very taken by these 2 mains as the gravy comes across as unexciting for us Chinese folks who have been eating zi char for a good part of our lives.

There are also 2 new desserts available, the Niigata Original Rice Ice Cream and Niigata Brown Rice Ice Cream. If you are into plain Vanilla Ice Cream, stick with the Original Rice Ice Cream which comes dotted with broken bits of rice in the ice cream.  But if you like a slightly grainier taste and coarser texture like how Pulau Hitam tastes like, the Brown Rice Ice Cream is for you.

The 2 new drinks available from the summer menu are the Yuzu Mojito and Lychee Mojito. The Lychee Mojito was a little too sweet for my liking but it seemed to be quite popular amongst the other guests at my table. I preferred the Yuzu Mojito because it was really refreshing with a citrus tang and light carbonation. There is also the option of spiking the drinks with soju for an extra kick.

It’s great that RamenPlay is innovating their dishes but overall, I still very much prefer the items on RamenPlay’s existing menu such as the Toroniku Double Soup Ramen, the Cha Shu Tonkotsu Ramen and the various appetizers.

Special Thanks to RamenPlay for the lunch invitation!

RamenPlay

23 Serangoon Central, #B2-58 Nex Mall

Tel: +65 6634 4089

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RamenPlay – Playing with New Menu Offerings

16 09 2011

*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.

Oreo Milkshake

Green Tea Milkshake

Super Yuzu

Yuzu Yoghurt

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.

Bon Appetit!

RamenPlay

23 Serangoon Central, #B2-58 Nex Mall

Tel: +65 6634 4089





Ippudo – Still not hitting the Mark

23 12 2010

It’s been a year since Ippudo opened its flagship Singapore branch in Mandarin Gallery. Back then, it opened with much fanfare with full page write ups on The Straits Times and I was inevitably lured to see what the commotion was all about during their soft launch, even foregoing a movie ticket (Zombieland) I had purchased as I waited 2 hours in line just for an available seat.

Did it wow me then? The answer is no but one year down the road, I decided it was finally time to pay them a revisit, especially on hearing that standards have gone up and previous teething issues have been sorted out.

This time around, I tried the Shiromaru Kakuni($19.50++) which is a smooth Hakata-style ramen served in Tonkotsu broth. For this ramen, you get a slice of chashu and simmered pork cubes. Having been spoiled by the kurobuta pork cheeks at Santouka and Tampopo, the chashu here wasn’t very impressive. Likewise, the simmered pork cubes was not as tender as I thought it would be. Still, I do see improvements in the texture of the ramen and rich tonkotsu broth since my prior visit. I also liked the fact that like how you can order your steak rare, medium or well done in steakhouses, Ippudo allows you to order your ramen Hard, Medium or Soft to cater for personal preferences.

I made a side order for the Nitamago($2++) aka flavour egg which I feel is essential in completing the whole ramen experience. Sadly, the egg white was overcooked and it pales in comparison to the Nitamago at Marutama and Tampopo.

Also notably pricier than other ramen joints, it will probably be at least another year or more before I do patronise Ippudo again.

Bon Appetit!

IPPUDO

333A ORCHARD ROAD, #04-02/03/04 MANDARIN GALLERY

TEL: +65 6235 2797





Daikokuya Ramen Dining- Looks can be Deceiving

8 09 2010

One of the new eateries to open after the basement renovation of Raffles City, Daikokuya has a charm that’s exudes professionalism and class, at least from the outside where I stood perusing the menu.

The menu looked extensive enough, with the choice of Tokyo-styled, Kyushu-styled ramen etc. My attempts to capture the menu on footage was foiled by one of the service staff, whom I assume was scared that I used the menu and it’s info for other purposes like maybe to set up a competing ramen-ya? So yea, I can’t really recall what are styles they serve.

They  have a weird policy because at first they stopped me from taking pics of the menu, but acceded to my request to take pics of the food.

I ordered the Chashu Shouyu Ramen($15.80) which is supposedly one of their signatures. It was pretty much a disaster to me since I set high standards for ramen. The tonkotsu broth came across as starchy instead of rich, like a lot of noodles had been boiled using it and significant amounts of flour had contaminated the broth. The Chashu was also overly chewy despite the significant layer of fat and lastly, the noodles wasn’t Q. Quite a disappointment.

Chashu Shouyu Ramen($15.80)

Chashu Shouyu Ramen($15.80)

I added the Tamago($2) and though it looked good, I found it bland and overcooked.

I shan’t go on to what my friends ordered since it was very forgettable.

Much is lacking before Daikokuya’s overpriced ramen is ready to take on the big leagues, at least that’s the humble view of this foodie.

Bon Appetit!

DAIKOKUYA RAMEN DINING

252 NORTH BRIDGE ROAD, #B1-13 RAFFLES CITY

TEL: +65 6336 7456





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!

 

 

TAMPOPO(LIANG COURT)

177 RIVER VALLEY ROAD, #01-23/24 LIANG COURT

TEL: +65 6338 3186

 

MARUTAMA RAMEN(LIANG COURT)

177 RIVER VALLEY ROAD, #02-01/02 LIANG COURT

TEL: +65 6837 2480





Baikohken – The Best…almost

6 05 2010

Barely 3 years old, Baikohken has already established itself as one of the best Ramen-Yas in town. The StanChart Top 10 Ramen Polls held recently perked my interest in Ramen that had laid dormant of late. Hence when HY mentioned about this good Ramen-Ya he had heard about in the Raffles Place vicinity, I had a clue it might be Baikohken so I was roaring to go!

I’m a failure at Ramen theory 101. Ok, at least I can tell apart the Shio(Salt), Shoyu(Soy) from the Miso broth but whenever I hear Hakata-style, Kyushu-style or Hokkaido-style, I don’t have a freaking clue what the difference is. I’m superficial, there are only 2 ramens types to me, nice and not nice…with Baikohken’s being part of the latter.

Every time I visit a Ramen-Ya, I will always order the Gyoza($5.50++) to satiate my itchy mouth before the main attraction. The Gyoza here was really something else, possibly the best pan-fried dumplings I have eaten from a ramen shop. The skin is fried to a nice crisp and a quick swath of vinegar makes for the ideal palate teaser.

Shio Ramen($12++)‘s broth was rich but a tad salty(though less salty than Sapporo Miharu). The texture of the ramen reminds me of instant mee! But hey, instant mee can be nice too, especially after soaking up all the rich tonkotsu broth! The Ramens here unfortunately doesn’t come with Egg($1++) but I strongly recommend insist that you add it on because it’s one of the best ramen eggs I have come across with the egg white consistently soft and bouncy with a just barely cooked yolk.  

 I preferred the Shoyu Ramen($12++) though. The broth was less salty than the shio one and caught my fancy. The chashu here was pretty lean yet tender and tore apart easily.

 Oh yeah, instead of the generic green tea, Baikohken serves Wheat Tea which tastes somewhat like a watered down ocha and I liked it!

The ramen and gyoza here were awesome and if not for Santouka’s Kurobuta Pork Cheeks, Baikohken would be in the running as my favourite Ramen-Ya.

Bon Appetit!

 

 

BAIKOHKEN

7 NORTH CANAL ROAD

TEL: +65 6534 3808





Nantsuttei

12 04 2010

Singaporeans are really crazy about ramen! First it was the Ippudo craze(I still can’t get over the fact that my 4 friends and I forfeited a movie after queueing 1.5 hours in line for their soft opening, all for an bowl of average noodles…) and now it’s Nantsuttei and Keisuke(opposite Nantsuttei @ Millenia Walk). But the strong-willed food hunting individual is never deterred by such petty and trivial issues such as queues right?

Basic Ramen($12++) comes in a darkish broth with lots of sesame garlic oil, beansprouts, chashu, a piece of seaweed and spring onions BUT NO EGG though you can add it as I did for an additional $1. On first impression, I really loved the broth which was made fragrant by the sesame garlic oil and especially the noodles which was very springy and QQ(imagine it snapping back like a rubber band after it breaks upon chewing) but after a while, the stock got a bit too overwhelming because of the excess of oil. The chashu here was also quite average, a far cry from Santouka’s(which I consider best) and even Ippudo’s. The egg was fairly well done though slightly overcooked. Ok, I shall place more empahsis on the noodles, it’s my favourite from the local ramen scene so far.

If you fancy something spicy, try out the Dragon Ramen($15++). It’s essentially the same as the Basic Ramen but with additional spicy minced meat. I would recommend most to stay clear of this since just a small sample sip of the broth caused 3 of the 4 of us to scramble for our glasses. Another random fact for you…Milk is the most effective drink to eliminate the spicy sensation experienced(caused by an oil called capsaisin) due to a chemical present in milk(casein) which attracts the capsaisin from your tongue. Water doesn’t help since capsaisin is insoluble in water and alcoholic drinks do nothing more than to magnify the burn. Other acidic drinks such as lemonade, tomato juice or orange juice can also counteract capsaisin. Hope this info can save the few people who do decide to venture into the Dragon’s lair.

  

I enjoyed the Gyoza($6++). There was a fair bit of gravy inside the dumplings so it reminded me of a pan-fried xiao long pao.

Portions here are large and despite enjoying the ramen, the broth left an undesirable unctuous feeling in my gut that lingered on for quite some time. Still, I would definitely consider the ramen here to be among the top 10 in Singapore.

Itadakimasu!

 

 

NANTSUTTEI

9 RAFFLES BOULEVARD, #P3-06 PARCO MARINA BAY, MILLENIA WALK

TEL: +65 6337 7166








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