Tsuta Ramen in Tokyo made headlines when it received the first ever Michelin star for ramen in 2015. In a recent trip to Tokyo, I wanted to visit it badly but Mr Fitness vetoed it, saying the shop is super ulu. You have to arrive at 8am, and get a ticket which tells you the time to return to the shop (between 11am-2pm). There is no nearby tourist attraction to visit in those 5 hours of waiting. No go, decreed King Fitness.
Luckily, two weeks after the Tokyo trip, Tsuta Ramen at Pacific Plaza is opened. Right in the heart of Singapore. There are only 2 outlets in the world, the one in Tokyo and this. Furthermore, to bring the authentic Japanese experience over, you order through a machine, similar to those found at ramen shops in Japan. And like Japan where ramen shops are small, there are only 18 seats here.
The founder, Chef Yuki Onishi, has 3 culinary philosophy. Firstly, he believes that food is borderless, and he experiments with ingredients all over the world. His signature dish, truffle shoyu ramen, uses truffle oil from Italy.
Secondly, he believes in using the best available ingredients. The Singapore store uses the same ingredients as the Tokyo’s, except for pork. Due to Singapore regulations, pork cannot be imported from Japan; The pork is airflown chilled, not frozen, weekly from Canada, the land of hot President.
And thirdly, he insists that everything is handmade in the shop, including the noodles.
Another thing to take note is the temperature of the broth. It’s just below boiling point so that you can eat the ramen immediately without scalding your tongue and it still retains the flavors of the ingredients.
The signature dish, Shoyu soba ($15-$22.80, depending on topping), uses handmade soba (soba just means noodles in Japanese) of various wheats and whole grains. It has an fantastic bite; I don’t think noodles can get any better than this.
The broth consists of Italian truffle oil, dashi broth (with a chicken and clam base), and shoyu (or known to us as soya sauce). The shoyu is specifically custom-made in Wakayama to Chef Onishi’s specifications from soybeans that are matured for 2 years. Don’t expect a super strong truffle broth; The truffle is just an underlying flavor, always dancing at the tip of the tongue but forever elusive. Compared to other tonkatsu pork-based ramen, this broth is lighter and more refreshing. Excellent.
The egg is nice too, but the char siew is different. Usually ramen uses pork belly but Tsuta uses Canadian pork collar. It’s not the melt-in-your-mouth type; it’s lean, healthy, and has a bite. Not bad and goes together with the overall lightness of the ramen, but my predilection tends towards the soft, fatty kind of char siew.
The other available ramen, shio soba ($15-$22.80, depending on toppings), also has the pleasing lightness of touch. Shio means salt, and here they use a mixture of Okinawa sea salt and Mongolian rock salt. The broth is imbued, not topped, with truffles like the shoyu soba, so the truffle taste is almost imperceptible. It’s topped with olive oil, olive puree, mint leaves, and leeks. As a result, it’s almost like a pungent pho.
Both ramen flavors are vastly different; the shoyu is smokey and umami while the shio is earthy. But both have a clean bite and are very good. If you’re alone, get the shoyu. If you’re with a friend, get one of each and share.
At the end, I ask myself if the ramen is worth the queue. In Singapore, I try not to queue for food but if I am in Tokyo, I think I might be crazy enough to queue for it, because the ambience would have been amazing to serve with a steaming hot delicious bowl of ramen. Itadakimasu!
9 Scotts Road, Pacific Plaza #01-01, Singapore 228210
T: +65 6734 4886
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.