Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cheek to Cheek

Heaven… I’m in heaven. I’ve finally found a tonkotsu ramen in Singapore that reminds me of Ichiran ramen which I have been raving about since my trip to Fukuoka late last year.

Santouka ramen is located in Central shopping centre, a Japanese themed mall filled with Japanese eateries serving everything from yoshoku to tonkatsu. Hailing from Hokkaido, Santouka is reknowned for this region’s version of tonkotsu ramen. And it is good – the broth here is rich, creamy, complex and simply soul warming. So rich and intensely flavoured in fact that it definitely isn’t one for the faint hearted. And whilst I still think that Hakata still makes the best pork bone broth, the version here is pure bliss.

The star of the show here however is the sliced meat to accompany your noodles. Unlike the normal char shiu you get in other establishments, Santouka uses toroniku (braised pork cheeks) as the accompaniment. I was impressed with the pork belly used at Ichiran – but was blown away by Santouka’s version. Melt in your mouth, so beautifully marbled and tender – this luxurious part of the porcine was oh so good.

What makes it all the more special is the limited qualities of this prized meat available (each pig has 200 to 300 grams worth) which limits sales to 60 servings per day – a real treat.

The noodles here are competent and done Asahikawa style which are thicker than Hakata ramen and slightly curly. They were cooked firm to the bite as they should be - but I felt lacked the delicious texture that made Ichiran so special. The gyoza served here was also competent but I still much prefer the version served at that other Fukuoka ramen icon, Ippudo, for its crisp texture and juicy fillings.

Nevertheless – I’m not complaining – a great broth, outrageously good char shiu, well cooked noodles… and most importantly, a reminder of what heaven tastes like without having to buy a plane ticket to Japan. A definite must try.

Ramen Santouka
6 Eu Tong Sen St
#02-76, The Central


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