People’s Choice Ramen 2011
The year-long competition of best ramen has ended. Remember our predictions that Ikkousha will win the Ultimate Ramen Champion at Bugis+? It won and sold 100, 531 bowls of ramen in 2011, followed by Bario with 65, 529 bowls. Congrats, Ikkousha and Bario!
For this year’s competition (7 Aug 2012- 30 Jul 2013), Tetsu (which was our favorite dipping-sauced ramen) exits. New contenders, Aoyama (at Bugis+) and Taka no Tsume, take its place. All eight stalls are handpicked by Kazuhiro Takama who goes all over Japan to taste ramen. He said, “The winner would mean that it is the best ramen in Japan too.” Plans are made to bring Ultimate Ramen Champion to other parts of Southeast Asia, China and USA.
Judges’ Choice Ramen 2012
Because of the new contenders, 9 judges were asked to judge Singapore-inspired ramen based on presentation, soup, toppings, noodle texture, and overall taste. Do you recognize some of the famous judges?
L to R: Hiroyuki Yamamoto (Minister, Embassy of Japan), Koji Tashiro (producer of Ramen Champion), Ishiyama (writer of Ramen Freak), Hirohashi Nobuaki (executive chef of Kumo Kaiseki Japanese Restaurant), Luca Pezzera (executive chef from Bonta Italian Restaurant), Andre Chiang (from Andre French Restaurant), Daniel Koh (from Chef Daniel’s Kitchen), Ken Hasegawa (sommelier of Andre Restaurant), and Kazuhiro Takama (COO of Komars Group).
We too have our own awards to give out:
Best Toppings – Taka No Tsume
Taka No Tsume, which is at Changi Airport T3, offers us ramen deluxe with Sichuan style sauce ($17), a mildly spicy broth topped with eggplant, black fungus, cabbage, bean sprouts, spring onions and chicken chop. The size of noodles is similar to fujian mian or linguine. The winning topping: the chicken chop, super flavorful, crispy outside, tender within. KFC, beware.
Best Egg – Gantetsu
Although Gantetsu names its miso-based dish king chashu ramen ($15), the best thing is the egg. Compared to the rest, the egg is lightly flavored and more subtle. If you’ve been eating 8 eggs from 8 ramens, this is the egg that you won’t get sick of. The broth is mildly flavored with shredded ginger, quite refreshing. As a whole, this ramen is good but forgettable. It needs a special ingredient to make the ramen memorable.
Most Refreshing – Taishoken
Taishoken’s cold and spicy tsukemen ($15) is the only store to offer us cold noodles tossed in lemon and chili oil, with a side of spicy minced pork. Once you finish dipping the noodles in the sauce, you may add clear broth to the dipping sauce and drink it up. Cold noodles=refreshing. Great for hot weather.
Best Service and Most Humble Chef – Bario
The most fattening of all the broths, ajitama ramen ($14.50) from Bario will coagulate with all the floating fats if you leave it for long. The 32 year-old handsome and humble chef, Makoto Iwasaki, served us personally and explained to us how to eat it. But we didn’t quite like signature thick noodles–a tad tough–and the clear pork-and-chicken shoyu broth somehow wasn’t as tasty as the rest. But the 9 esteemed judges awarded this ramen #2 among all the ramens. And the chef’s humble attitude truly deserves to be rewarded.
Most Udon-alike Ramen – Riki
Not much love going out to Riki’s Riki Tsukemen ($13). The thick and overly chewy noodles are more like udon in dipping sauce – clearly not for ramen purists. The pork shoyu dipping sauce comes with a meatball that tastes like a hamburger patty. No one at our table liked it.
Most Unique Broth – Aoyama
Although the special tonkotsu ramen ($15) from Aoyama, the new contender, has a pork-based thick broth that has a complex taste: it starts off tasting like liquid salted egg yolk and polishes off with a sweet, almost crab-like flavor. It may get too jerlat (excessive).
Best Chashu – Iroha
King’s ramen ($18) from Iroha is the most expensive but has five very thick pieces of chashu. Although thick, the chashu melts in the mouth. The chicken shoyu broth with miso base tingles with black pepper. On the strengths of its chashu, noodles, and soup, we would award this #2 best ramen.
Best Broth and Best Noodles – Ikkousha
Even before the judges announced that this is the best ramen, we were chatting among ourselves and unanimously liked Ikkousha‘s spicy takana ramen ($15) best. It has a WOW factor. The thin Hakata noodle is cooked to be bouncy, QQ. The broth, slightly spicy and sourish from Takana (preserved vegetables), is light and at the same time, flavorful, making this a everyday ramen. We predict Ikkousha will continue its winning streak for Ultimate Ramen Champion 2012.
Ultimate Ramen Champion 2012
Bugis+ (formerly ILUMA)
201 Victoria Street,
T: 6238 1011
Changi Airport Terminal 3
65 Airport Boulevard
#B2-58 Terminal 3
Singapore Changi Airport
T: 6214 2958
Two readers will get $20 vouchers each* and a reader will get two t-shirts, one M-size from Bario (as modeled by chef Makoto Iwasaki in the picture above) and L-size from Aoyama. Triple your chances to win:
1. Share the link on facebook (showing “via Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow.”)
3. Leave a comment** to answer this question: Name the two locations that Ramen Champion 2012 is held. (Building names will do.)
Contest ends on 12 Aug Sunday, 2359hr. Only to addresses in Singapore. Good luck!
*Terms and conditions apply to vouchers.
**We will reply “noted” to your comment but it doesn’t mean the answer is correct.
ps: Thank you, Arif, Ling, Kames and Ultimate Ramen Champion, for the invite.