Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who's the Ramen Champion? (Trial 1)

Ramen, ramen, ramen, ramen, ramen, ramen....

I'm saying "ramen" six times because this is really what this dining place is about - Ramen.

For a ramen place, wx and I would usually just hit a RamenPlay. But this day, on a friend's recommendation, we decided to give this "authentic Japanese ramen" a try - Ramen Champion @ Bugis Iluma.

The problem was, there were actually six different ramen stalls there - Ikkousha, Gantetsu, Menya Iroha, Bario, Taishokan, and Tetsu. And since we didn't do any research beforehand (not even asked the friend what's the best there!), we could only rely on the picture menus and our instincts for good food. We literally went from stall to stall, thinking to ourselves - "ok, this one sells ramen...and this one....ramen. next one...erm, ramen too. right...that's ramen as well. so which is the one that's really really good?"

(For an overview of each of the ramen stall's specialties, read the post "Ramen Champion @ Bugis Iluma".)

I guess my instinct failed me. As I was sucked in my usual spicy-rules-all mentality, I ended up having the Spicy Miso Ajitama Ramen from Menya Iroha. For someone at my spiciness capacity, this spicy ramen is, of course, way way too mild. :p I was quite disappointed because it says in large text, "麻辣" (mara), on their menu. I also felt that the soup was too salty that this became one of the few times where I actually failed to clean my soup bowl completely. Nevertheless, I am giving credit for their tender cha-shu and half-boiled seasoned egg, ajitama.

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Spicy Miso Ajitama Ramen
Rating: ★★

Turns out, Iroha's ajitama wasn't the best there either.

Photo edited with Pixlr-o-matic

Where we usually see the seasoned eggs served in halves, Bario expresses their uniquely strong style by serving their ajitama as a whole egg! We were drawn to believe that perhaps this half-and-whole thing could be the secret technique to making the best seasoned eggs! Either that, or Bario's chefs are just more skillful in controlling the timings in the seasoning process, because their whole eggs, when sliced open, reveals a perfectly crystal orange-colored egg yolk. "Woah," we reacted as if we've just witnessed the Seven Wonders in the world.

But that was not all to the Bario ramen. As I mentioned, Bario's ramen is "uniquely strong," or bold.

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Bario Ramen
Rating: ★★ (subject to individual's taste)

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wx slurping on his bowl of Bario Ramen

Whole ajitama, a bold gesture to the presentation - check. Milky-white tonkotsu (pork bone) soup base, ultra-rich - check. Bread flour noodles, thick and heavy - check. Large handful of bean sprouts/cabbage piled to a mountain-high, another bold gesture - check. Thick, bold cuts on the cha-shu - check. Garlic, for the strong taste - check. To eat the Bario Ramen is to be a bario man, which means super and strong, just like how the ramen is designed to taste. Some may not like this as much due to the strong taste.

For side dish, we went with Ikkousha's Chicken Gyoza. You should see that we enjoyed this dish very much:

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Chicken Gyoza
Rating: ★★

We had a second plate! And as soon as it arrived, wx stole a piece, thus leaving only four pieces in this photo.


Anyone who enjoys a single bit about Japanese ramen should find the time to dine at Ramen Champion. The wide variety allows for groups of family and friends (with different taste for food) to all enjoy their meal here.

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Bario storefront

Favor thick tonkotsu soup? Try the Bario Ramen! Definitely not the typical kind of ramen you would find elsewhere, so I would strongly recommend that you try it at least once. Find it too strong, and you can always go for something lighter next time.

As you can see, I have named this post as "Trial 1". This means that there will be more reviews on Ramen Champion coming on this blog. We are hoping to try as many different ramen at the six stalls to come up with a fair judgment of the ramen champion for the Ultimate Ramen Champion 2011 competition. So do come back for more reviews!

To learn more about Ramen Champion and the Ultimate Ramen Championship, visit their website and Facebook Page.

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