Having avoided the original frenzy when Ramen Champion first came to Singapore, I finally paid a visit to Bugis+ Level 4 to explore what most of my friends called ramen heaven (before they discovered Ippudo unfortunately).
Chefs competing for the title here hail from Tokyo, Sapporo, Hakata, Narita, and Toyama, all professing their status as the best of the best there is to offer. Personally I’m not quite sure how one describes a ramen that can be the world’s best when there are so many people with different tastes and preferences – how hard do you want the noodles? How strong do you like your broth? And would like it to have less oil, or pile on the flavour?
But if there is one thing no one can really argue about, it’s the eggs – the eggs (aka 味玉, or ajitama) HAVE to be in their perfect soft-boiled state: not overcooked, not hard boiled, and the yolks can’t be raw. Making this awesome soft-boiled egg is by no means an easy skill to master (I have enough trouble with making tamagoyaki at home, but I’ll leave that for another day).
Since I was in the mood for a ramen that is easier on the palette, I went to Ikkousha (一幸舎) from Hakata-ku (博多区), one of the seven wards of Fukuoka City. It has a rich, milky, pork-bone tonkotsu broth and slightly thin, non-curly noodles. It also has a strong (but not overpowering) garlic taste. This is a bowl of the char siew ramen I ordered:
Four slices of char siew meat, a whole ajitama (cut in half), and a generous helping of spring onion toppings. The light tonkotsu broth tells me that this bowl is expected to carry a balanced flavour.
The ajitama is the first thing I check when my order is ready. This was a promising start. The chef was also very nice, giving a light bow in the background while his assistant brought me my bowl.
I’m not fussy about my noodles, but I don’t like them too curly or too yellow. This really was just nice.
Overall, the Ikkousha char siew ramen was slightly oilier than I expected, and the broth reminded me of the one at Menya Musashi (which to me ranks slightly above Ajisen Ramen, which I don’t like), but thankfully the tonkotsu flavour overruled that. Also, having just returned from Hokkaido and immersing myself in two super strong bowls of miso ramen (read: very oily and very salty, but also very comforting, especially when consumed in subzero weather), I really appreciated how simple it was: far less complicated with all the basics done right.
I’ll be sure to visit the other stalls over the next few weeks!