Chiobu says, “Don’t tell me Tonkotsu King is the best ramen in Singapore until you go to Iluma.”
So the four of us trotted down to try all 6 stalls. When you go in, they give you a card, like a Marche system, except you have to find your own seats. This card is used to tabulate which stall has the most customers. The winner of the ramen championship will get to set up a restaurant in Singapore. So make your choice wisely.
Starting from the innermost stall to the one nearest the entrance:
Stall #1: Ikkousha
$13. This is, by far, the best soup ramen in this place. The broth is very salty but very rich and delicious. Although the egg is hard-boiled all over, it is very tasty and the marinated pork is thick and has kou-gan (bite). 3.952/5 stars
Stall #2: Bario
We bought $7, half bowl. Don’t be deceived by the queue. There is a queue because of bad management. They take about 10 orders or so, then go make their ramen, while the rest of the people who want to order have to queue. After they finish cooking 10 bowls of ramen, they will beep the people who have already placed their order via a pager. After the people have collected, then they start taking orders again. That’s why there is a queue despite the lack in taste. The mee-pok-like noodles are too thick and doughy, making it difficult for the soup to soak into it. The pork, however, is quite tasty and thick enough. Got kick. But overall, this is one of the least liked among my 3 friends and me. 2.991/5 stars
Stall #4: Menya Iroha
$13.50. The noodle is similar to the cze char dish, Fu-jian mian, and the broth is similar to sesame chicken soup from the instant noodle, Nissin chu qian yi ding 出前一丁. One of our least favorite too. But the paper-thin slice of pork has completely absorbed the sauce, making it very well marinated and tasty. I like the pungent green onions. 2.891/5 stars.
Stall #6: Gantetsu
$15. The noodles are luminous yellow because it is corn noodles. There is corn everywhere in this dish, from the noodles to the corny soup. Although the broth is light yet flavorful, two of us don’t like corn, and one of us do, one is neutral. So if you like corn, this is it, but if not, stick to Stall #1. 3.212/5 stars
Stall #3: Tetsu & Stall #5: Tai-Sho-Ken
I group Stall #3 and Stall #5 together because they are both ramen that you dip in the broth and eat. 8Days scolds Singaporeans “blur” for pouring the broth into the ramen – but actually I think if you wanna pour in, you pour lor. There is no hard and fast rule about eating. Eat as you like.
Stall #3. Tetsu $11. Hot favorite among us. Mao Mao claimed that the chef is interested in Chiobu because chef came out to talk to her. Anyway, the broth is very thick and oily and it’s like a salty version of the sweet-sauce for chu cheong fun. However, you may want to add chili oil to the noodles as they are dry and tend to stick together, unlike the springy noodles from Stall #5, Taishoken $11. Stall #5 presents a lighter broth that is sweet, not salty. This is not as jelak as Stall #3 but it has also less impact. Stall #3 – 3.759/5 stars; Stall #5 3.594/5 stars.
For dipping ramen, it’s hard to decide and it really depends on your taste: salty (Stall #3) or sweet (stall #5); strong (stall #3) or subtle (stall #5).
For soup, it must go to Stall #1, Ikkousha. Congrats, cute chef!
But for completeness, I want to say that Tonkotsu King is still the best.
201 Victoria Street
Bugis Iluma #04 – 08/09/10
DAILY 11:30 am to 10:30 pm
TEL: 6238 1011