Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ramen Champion, Iluma

Was a long overdue trip to Ramen Champion at Iluma (if you STILL haven't heard, get back to Earth and check out the 6 japanese chefs bringing their local ramen flavours to the country). We had to wait till the hype kinda died down before coming as we weren't about to put up with the 2 hours queue.

6 kinds of ramen to choose - personally I was familiar with the [edit:] Kyushu Hakata style which I absolutely adored from my trips to Tokyo. But the crowd favourite at Ramen Champion was the Bario style - garlicky porky manly Jiro-style ramen, obviously I had to give it a try.

Not sure if it was for the better or for worse - I actually saw how the Bario style ramen was made.

Step 1) Insert garlic
Step 2) Insert soy sauce
Step 3) Inundate bowl with pork fat from broth pot, and I mean FLOOD THE DAMN BOWL WITH FAT
Step 4) Add soup, noodles and the Olympus-sized mountain of bean sprouts

After seeing step 3 I was wondering whether I should walk away and weep - but the MAN in the me didn't, and I decided my arteries were ready for the roller coaster challenge that was BARIO.

Besides the sheer amount of fat in the soup, Bario sports the pork belly / 三层肉 char siew cut, as well as mountainous bean sprouts. Taste test ...

{ Bario バリ男 ramen ($13)}
Garlic and pork fat goodness in a bowl

*keels and dies*

Tokyo style ramen traditionally have very very thick soup bases - this was no exception, and the garlic flavour is soooo strong that you might wanna pass on bringing a date here. And the flavour ... jesus christ. Knowing how much fat in it doesn't help but it is, to put it simply, super super gao. Wah lan eh. The fatty pork belly is also so fatty. Wah piang, buay tahan. The portion was also rather humungous at $13, and sad to say I couldn't finish it :(

From cnngo ...
"See, Jiro's noodles are as thick as udon, served with a pile of bean sprouts and chunky chashu on top -- garlic optional. The soup is an ultra-fatty pork base. This tinkering with the ramen formula is enough to make purists drop Jiro from official noodle canon. Non-purists are more troubled about the dish's infamous resistance to digestion."
Apparently if you finish it there's a congratulatory note at the bottom of the bowl for being man enough.

( Hakata Ikkousha 一幸舎 Special Ramen ($16) }
Pork broth at it's best

Mr. ソラ had the Hakata style ramen made familiar to our frequent visits to 博多天神. And whoa, I must say the soup broth is pretty damn close, if not completely the same. Again, Tokyo style, extremely rich, thick and porky to the maximum, tis was my personal favourite. Generous with the chewy, roasted char siew (a stark difference to the melt-in-your-mouth kind that other ramen styles boast about) this was akin to the roast pork familiar to Singapore. The noodles were a bit off though, being slightly thicker and less chewy than the Japan eqiuvalent. Still gets two thumbs up from me.

{ Taishoken 大勝軒 tsukemen mori-soba }
Dip and dunk style
Thought I'd try a non-souped version for a different experience. I realize now I'm not a huge fan of the the whole dip-your-noodles-into-a-separate-bowl-of-soup procedure. The soup was a tad salty too, although it had a very curious and strangely familiar taste that I cannot identify. Noodles were a bit fat and chewy, which is to say quite starchy and filling - had to abandon mission halfway through (nooooooo). Anyway this was a bit meh, especially in contrast to the two other superior bowls on the table.

After the three bowls, we determined that the ramen here was the real shiznit. It is 100% authentic in my opinion and definitely houses one of the best ramens in the country. To all ramen lovers please eat your fill before the year is up!

Ikkousha main website :
Taishoken main website :
Ramen champion :
HGW Link :
Rating (out of 4) :

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