Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ramen: Not just your "noodles in soup" (Ramen Champion, Trial 2)

Following my research on Ramen Champion @ Bugis Iluma and our first trial for Who's the Ramen Champion?, I've learned to stereotypically explaining ramen as "noodles in soup" does not do justice to represent what ramen really is. Although at my level of skills, I am unable to put "ramen" in words, I think it's best for one to explore "ramen" in their food adventures, or hopefully with the photos and comments below.

I actually went to Ramen Champion three times in this two weeks, but not planning to write them in order, because I want to put this two ramen side by side for a comparison. This covers part of my 2nd and 4th visit.

The one type of ramen that most Japanese/ramen restaurants in Singapore never have on their menu is the tsukemen ramen. Tsukemen literally means "dipping noodles" - yes, ramen don't just come in soup! The soup broth is prepared so thick that makes "dipping" the best way to taste your noodles.

First up, we have Tetsu's version of tsukemen - the Very Rich! Paitan Tsukemen! Describing the soup as "very rich" is an understatement. I'd like to call it "concentrated" - as if it has gone through a distillation process to retain just the essence of the broth. No kidding! (Not advisable to drink the soup alone.) Concentrated to the point that they serve you a third bowl worth of broth.

Pros: The paitan ("white soup") broth is super thick and flavorful (salty), generously garnished with fresh leek, and is a perfect complement with the plain soba noodles.
Cons: Noodles has been aired for too long, and I prefer my ajitama to be warm. :o

Very Rich! Paitan Tsukemen from Tetsu
Photo edited with Pixlr-o-matic
Rating: ★★

Fluid egg yolk and egg white on the inside. (Unfortunately, quality is not always maintained.)

Ajitama from Tetsu
Photo edited with Pixlr-o-matic
Next up, we have Taishoken's Tsukemen Deluxe. It is said that Taishoken invented tsukemen, the "dipping noodles"!

From the looks of it, Taishoken's tsukemen appears more flavorful with the traditional ramen topping, narutomaki. The broth looks different, instead of the paitan, Taishoken's tsukemen clear soup broth is boiled from pork, chicken and anchovies.

Pros: Noodles are "smoother". I like the anchovies broth. The cha-shu has a nice roasted aroma and the fatty parts are soft that melts in your mouth. *thumbs-up!*
Cons: Although the broth is rich and good on its own, it still seems too bland to complement with the plain noodles. Taste of the broth doesn't "stick" onto the noodles by just dipping. :(

Tsukemen Deluxe from Taishoken
Photo edited with Pixlr-o-matic
Rating: ★★

You've just seen Trial 2 of the Ramen Championship!

Read more on the "Ramen Championship Adventure" series:

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