Food & beverage in Singapore never stops surprising me. To be more specific, it's the reaction of the public which I find more surprising. A typical example is the Ramen restaurants that opened at the new PARCO shopping centre (at Millenia Walk). Keisuke Ramen serves a prawn stock based soup, while Nantsuttei serves the more classic pork bone stock, with a "deep fried garlic and sesame" oil. I tried Nantsuttei some time ago since I love tonkotsu, and I was heavily disappointed with their Ramen, which tasted totally aseptic. There was no real body, no focus, no soul to them. And yet, there is a never ending queue outside the shop, no matter what time or what day of the week. Quite a mystery really, since we do have other Ramen shops that serve the real thing, just like in Japan...
Right opposite, Keisuke Tokyo serves ramen of a totally different calibre in a beautifully comfortable setting, for about the same price. It is a real gourmet ramen, Tokyo (shoyu based) style. This is perhaps the first shop that dares serving a different soup, prawn based in this case. They start from Japanese imported amaebi (sweet prawns), they roast the shells and then slowly cook them in chicken stock, to obtain a superbly intense soup. Many say that the soup has a "French" flavour to it, since the Chef has been trained to French cooking. The fact is that his Ramen has a totally authentic Tokyo flavour, just like some of the Ramen I tasted in Tokyo. This really reminded me of Nagi Ramen, which used sardines instead of prawns, for an even more robust stock.
Back to Keisuke's ramen, I can only be thankful to him for bringing such a delicacy to Singapore, and I just hope that gradually people will understand it and appreciate it. From the queues at the opposite restaurant, it seems like the crowds still prefer average, standard flavour to something they are unfamiliar with. Yet, Keisuke's Ramen
are the ones with a taste that is closest to the Singapore palate. Think prawn mee, just in a totally different league: beautifully firm noodles in a robust prawn broth, with layers of flavours emerging from the thinly shopped chillies and orange zest.
I would not recommend the miso or chilly based versions. Just try the original, and if you are really hungry go for the "Special", which includes all the extra toppings you can have. The flavoured chicken is incredibly juicy, the egg is not soft and runny inside as Marutama serves it, but it is well flavoured and works well with the ramen. The wontons have a nice, firm wrapping and it releases a pungent chive flavour to the bite.
Once again, my hope is that the Singapore market will be open minded enough to accept something new and so well executed, and that over time, such variety will be acknowledged and survive.
Location: PARCO (Millenia Walk) P03-02