Our foodie journey today brought us to the world’s first Michelin-starred ramen eatery, Tsuta, which opened it’s first overseas outlet at Pacific Plaza (it has since opened another outlet at 18 Tai Seng).
We were here during late afternoon, and the queue was fairly manageable. Since we were still rather full, we did not mind the 20-minute wait, especially when there were seats available in the queue.
We thought that this place had a rather efficient system, where we could just place our orders and pay via the kiosk at the entrance of the restaurant, before the staff brought us to our seats, where we could watch the chefs in action.
Food was served rather quickly too, and we managed to finish our meal in a jiffy too.
Hakata Gensuke Ramen Professionals were celebrating their 2nd year anniversary today! A pity we were not in time to be the first 50 customers to get the free ramen as part of the celebrations.
Nonetheless, we joined the relatively short queue and got our seats within 10 minutes.
The tiny restaurant was like a typical Japanese ramen place, with staff shouting out greetings in unison, and tiny tables and seats.
We had already pre-selected the Signature Tonkotsu Ramen and Shio Tonkotsu Ramen, both with additional toppings of cha-shu, seaweed, and flavoured egg (base price A$13 each, with additional toppings at A$8).
We were here to check out the recently opened ramen place!
Since we read that the Chef Tan-san was the first Tonkatsu Chef in Singapore, we figured that it might be prudent to order the Premium Pork Loin Tonkatsu Set ($19.90 nett), and the Tonkatsu Ramen ($14.90) which uses the normal pork loin.
Each Tonkatsu set came with roasted sesame (which we had fun grinding), tonjiru soup (which was awesome broth simmered with Japanese pork and very rich in flavour), pickles, fruits, as well as unlimited servings of Niigata rice and crunchy cabbage (which we could barely finished the first serving).
So I have been wanting to relive the what I call 一蘭 Ichiran experience over again ever since I tried it in 福岡 Fukuoka many years ago. This is a classic とんこつラーメン Tonkotsu ramen shop that started from the 60s and have been dishing out ramen all over Japan over the years 24 hours a day.
The 一蘭 Ichiran experience starts from ordering your noodle and extra ingredients using a vending machine (or coupon machine). Then you wait in line for the server to assign you a cubicle. Yes you need to dine in a cubicle ALONE. Haha…
Once you are seated in a cubicle, you will face a wooden window where a server will appear from behind and collect your order. This is also the time when you can indicate your choice of thickness of noodle, hotness of sauce etc. Then you wait for the noodle to be served, again through the wooden window. This, my dear friends, is the 一蘭 Ichiran experience! 🙂
We had initially planned (with flexibility) to go 河口湖 Kawaguchiko (to admire 富士山 Mt Fuji from afar) by bus either on Monday (1 Dec) or Tuesday (2 Dec). We were more keen to go on Monday, as we needed to get up early on Wednesday to catch the early 新幹線 Shinkansen to 京都 Kyoto.
As we got nearer to the dates, the weather forecast for Monday was cloudy, and sunny for Tuesday… Which kind of determined that we would go on Tuesday, because there’s no way to get a clear view of 富士山 Mt Fuji on a cloudy day.
We had initially wanted to check out イーヨ横丁 Iiyo Yokocho, but somehow ended up 黒塀横丁 Kurobei Yokocho (black-fence alley). However, it looked like a tourist trap with very few customers, and none of the restaurants were appealing to us. We were almost going to settle for one of the nearby restaurant, when hubby recalled that Mr J had mentioned a very famous つけ麺 tsukemen place at Tokyo Ramen Street in Tokyo Station.
Without further ado, we located Tokyo Ramen Street within the massive Tokyo Station, and before I could look for the name of the shop, we spotted the queue 😮 It’s amazing that there were 8 ramen shops here but only one has a snaking queue!
We finally made our last trip of 2015 to the Land of the Rising Sun! And this time we started from Tokyo!
Our first real meal in Tokyo was at Shinagawa. We met JL, who recently started working in Tokyo. Funny that we always meet up when we are out of Singapore… 😛
Anyway, she used the powerful Google Maps to navigate our way to the Shinatatsu Ramen Street 品川駅前「麺達七人衆 品達」. This is an area below the railway tracks of JR Shinagawa Station 品川駅 which has a collection of 7 ramen shops. And Nantsuttei is the first one as you walked into the area (and incidentally one of the only two that were still operating, the others were closed for renovations because of some construction going on at the railway tracks).
Nantsuttei started from Kanagawa and has now quite a number of branches in Tokyo, Thailand and Singapore too (Orchard Central). There is quite a following for its celebrity founder Ichirô Furuya, and judging from the queue that we were seeing at the Shinatatsu branch, this was the ramen for us!
Japanese feel on the exterior
We were in the vicinity (again) and wanted to try something new. This looks like a relatively new place so we decided to give it a try!
The exterior is a brightly-lit shop front with a large lantern, giving a very Japanese feel to the restaurant. Similarly, the interior is furnished with Japanese-style low tables and small chairs, and packed with very little walking space to maximize the dining area.
Kitchen is glassed so diners can peek at what’s happening behind the glasses, and for the chefs to shout ‘いらっしゃいませ Irasshaimase!‘ every time a customer walks in!
Ordering is simple: you order a ramen, decide on your toppings, add on side dishes, and drinks if you want. That’s it. Japanese efficiency.
We were very keen to try out this place as each ramen shop serves its own distinctive style of ramen. The queue was quite short, and we managed to get seats with 20 minutes, which was not bad at all, considering that it was a weekend evening.
We quickly decided on the Awaodori Special and Nebuta Special (each $18.90++). While waiting, we enjoyed some hard boiled eggs and marinated bean sprouts, which were freely available at each table. We even saw some customers making their own concoction of egg mayonnaise! We also rather enjoyed grinding the sesame, which really added an aromatic flavor to the ramen.
The Nebuta Special was made using a mixture of pork and fish stock, and was lighter in taste, as compared to Awaodori Special. Unfortunately, the meat was so tough that I gave up eating it after a while. On the other hand, the Awaodori had very tender meat! Frankly, I was quite disappointed with my meal 😦
Here for dinner after a stroll from office… I wanted to jog, but old le… 😦
We walked from Botanic Garden MRT along Bukit Timah Road and passed by our usual hunt in Cluny Court, and then a changed in sign made us looked up. This used to be Burger Shack, but has now revamped itself into Little Hiro, a Hawaiian-Japanese BBQ & Grill eatery. The owner is the son of the owner of Island Creamery, and Little Hiro was the result of his creative juices after attending a wedding in Hawaii which ended with a Hawaiian-style BBQ. Little Hiro is a tribute to the groom’s father and chef at the BBQ (whose name is Hiro).