It would be hell if the restaurants weren’t so good

Naomi and I hadn’t spent enough time looking through what’s on offer at the Marina Bay Sands, so we were very excited to discover that ‘celebrity chefs’ had set up shop in the massive casino complex.

There’s Mario Batali, Tetsuya Wakuda, Hide Yamamoto, and Singapore’s own drink-driving Justin Quek amongst several others. And we only found this out because we were invited by a friend of Naomi’s mum’s to Hide Yamamoto’s.

We have no idea how much dinner would’ve cost if we had paid for it ourselves, but we supped from 8pm to 11pm, so you can imagine how much we enjoyed the food there.

We think the food’s good enough reason to brave the bad air (cigarette smoke lingering in the whole atrium) and desperate gambler types that hang around the giant casino and make the whole place look like the hall full of aliens in Men In Black.


Ordinarily, I wouldn't eat tuna, but then...Roasted vegetables with REAL TRUFFLE!Grilled prawnSnow crab claw in some stock thingieGrilled wagyu beefProbably the least pretty of the dishes. But I've never had spring chicken done so nicely.Awesome dessert I forgot the name of

Cyclops can now fight Godzirra!

Ultraman + Mt. Fuji = JAPAN
“Ultraman + Mt. Fuji = JAPAN” – Photo by emrank

I am not arroud to make fun of Japanese-accented English, so sitting through two hours with an embassy official who was helping us fill up deceptively difficult forms was quite a task yesterday afternoon.

But it’s almost all done. Naomi’s and my marriage has been registered (we didn’t know we had to do this), and Kai’s birth has also been logged. This means our chubby little bub is now officially Japanese as well as Singaporean.

There’s still the matter of getting a passport for Kai, for which, we were told by the embassy official, we needed to get a passport-sized photograph of him ‘with his eyes open’.

The helpful official even drew an open eye within the outline of a head printed on a sample application form. I wanted to tell her our son was not a cyclops but I was too tired and just glad we got the first parts done.

Some more, the Daikin aircon in the interview room was on the brink, so it got warmer and warmer as the last few pages of the forms were being filled up, until the official helping us could take it no more (neither could we, but we were trying to be polite) and shoved the remote control at me and asked me to do sumsing about it.

Times are tough when your Ramen gets smaller

After a really long day, Naomi, her mum and I decided on Ramen Santouka for dinner, and we were a little taken aback by the notices they put up, some of them about how your Ramen-Ricebowl-Egg set has been downgraded to a Small-Ramen-Salad set, and that you have to cough up an additional dollar to upgrade your Small-Ramen to a Regular one, and one that still doesn’t have the boiled egg.

They’ve also added stuff to their menu, like Tori Karaage and some desserts, and they’ve still got the best Ramen in town though.

Things are a changing at Ramen Santouka

Understatement

Akashi

Loyal Reader Lincoln told us Wednesday that staff at Akashi reckon that their Chicken Karaage is “better than KFC”.

That’s no way to describe your own chicken. Like I’ve heard somewhere else, even General Tso’s trumps Colonel Sanders’ just on rank.

The Chicken Karaage alone is worth a visit to Akashi, and as their staff told Loyal Reader Lincoln when he told them that I had never dined there, “what, your friend not local ah?”

It is that popular, and I was amazed to be told that the mid-week crowd we witnessed was already poor by their standards. They obviously don’t need any more publicity.

Loyal Reader Lincoln says that if he were a blogger, he wouldn’t blog so much about restaurants that are really good, because it’d just add to the queues (like the one at Ramen Santouka) and you’d have difficulty trying to get to eat there again. But because I’m the caring and sharing type of blogger, I’m blogging about Akashi, and I want to tell the staff that their chicken karaage is so good, they can go tell Colonel Sanders, “eh, lick my finger”.


AkashiAkashiAkashi

Akashi Japanese Restaurant (Orchard Parade Hotel)

1 Tanglin Road #01-01A Orchard Parade Hotel. Tel: 6732 4438

Best ramen in the world

Ramen Santouka
Traditional Japanese Curtains for you to konk heads with departing customer

Naomi and I have been to this place, I dunno, four, five times already in the last two months, and considering we don’t go out very often, it probably means we like the food a lot.

Ramen Santouka
Plastic models of dishes to help you decide while queueing

Ramen Santouka is a ramen restaurant franchise, with restaurants in Japan, U.S. and Singapore (yay!), and most of the reviews I’ve managed to find so far have been good. Well, that’s sort of an understatement:

One sip of the Shio broth…

Daaaaaaaaaaang!

That broth is on point. It’s like drinking pork flavored butter. Their shio broth puts me in a place of utter happiness. It’s like growing up in a world without mama whoopings and big brother noogie spree.

Oishii Eats on Santouka West L.A.

santouka is bomb, the food is fucking good. it’s a bit pricey but it’s worth the indulgence. you gotta get the salt ramen with nato. it might make your breath stink, but it’ll make your tongue happy.

roe, I., L.A.

That’s L.A.. The more discerning Singaporean palate reacted in somewhat similar fashion:

Oh. My. God.

That taste? For that price? Looks a little thick and rough but once it touches your mouth? OOhhh…it’s soft, chewy not too fatty and the flavours burst right into your mouth while it melts. If their ‘normal’ chasu already tastes this good, I can’t imagine what the choice cheek cuts must be like.

Aaron Loy about the pork chasu slices in the Singapore branch

Yes, folks, the food is that good.

Then again, this is no ordinary ramen chain (like Ajisen Ramen, whose website title reads ‘Best Ramen in Singapore’, which is like, “it is so not lor!”) where local teenage waiting staff butcher Japanese greeting phrases any old how. It’s ok not to make eye contact when you’re welcoming customers to your restaurant because it’s busy and all that. But the waiting to be seated ritual usually goes like:

Waiter:
WASHSMRMSMMSRRSRSHARE! Table for two?

Us:
Yes pl…

Waiter:
WASHSMRMSMMSRRSRSHARE!

Us:
…ease.

That’s how they cut you off mid-sentence, because some other customer has walked in behind you and the young waiter is trained to greet all customers promptly and LOUDLY, at the expense of the Japanese language, and of the long term hearing abilities of the customer in front of you. And so it goes on:

Waiter:
OK, this way please. WASHSMRMSMMSRRSRSHARE! What drink you like? WASHSMRMASMRSRHARE! Today’s set is… WASHMARSRMMSRRSHARE! What? You don’t want to eat here anymore? WASHSHHMMMSRSHHSHARE! Why? WASHSHHMMSRWSHARE! We have special promotion.

The local waiters at the Singapore branch of Ramen Santouka also greet customers with a hearty irrasshaimase, but have been trained to do so without being so in your face literally. Most days, there is a stern looking Japanese lady overseeing operations (and the till), so I suppose standards are kept in that regard.

Standards are definitely kept high when it comes to the soup stock for Santouka’s ramen dishes. “Pork flavored butter” is a good description of how hearty a meal is at this place, and as for it being a ‘place of utter happiness’, well, I do think very fondly of ramen these days.

Several times in the past month alone, ramen had been the answer when Naomi asked what I wanted for dinner. And if I had the practice of saying grace before every meal, I’d end my prayer in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit ramen.

Ramen Santouka
Kara-miso ramen

Now you know how blasphemously good the soup stock is, you’ll want to know that there are also rice dishes to accompany your bowl of ramen. Char Siu Rice Bowl, Salmon Roe Rice Bowl, Grated Yam Rice Bowl, Fermented Bean Rice Bowl, Fried Rice Bowl & Green Onion Rice Bowl. These can be combined with your favourite ramen soup flavours, Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy), Miso (miso), and Kara Miso (spicy miso), to make set meals costing between $15.50 – $19.50.

Ramen Santouka
…accompanied by Green Onion Rice Bowl. Note the spoon sitting on its grooved edge. Nifty!

If you think a noodle meal is expensive at this price and you don’t want to pay any more for anythink else, there’s a pitcher of cold water on every table, gratis. But trust us, $20 is not a lot for food that will make you renounce atheism.

But the path to ramen nirvana (hey that’s a good name for a restaurant) isn’t easy. Ramen Santouka is tucked away in a corner on the 2nd floor of The Central, Not To Be Confused With Central Mall Not To Be Confused With Central Square Which Are All Within One Kilometre Of Each Other.

And when you finally find the place, you might not get a table because it’s usually very packed at meal times. Try going slightly earlier or later, but it really is worth the wait. And people do queue for a table, which is really amazing because The Central is a mall which could be renamed “The Mall With The Most Japanese Restaurants In Singapore Hey We Even Have Two Azabu Sabo Ice Cream Joints In The Same Building”

The only other drawback of Ramen Santouka is that it’s a cash only business. So prep up the wallet before going.

Ramen Santouka
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#02-76 The Central
Singapore 059817
Tel: 62240668