I had known about Baikohken since they opened in Singapore back in May 2007 but it was only tonight that I visited them, much on a spur-of-the-moment whim. Also because they are one of the very few eateries open during Chinese New Year.
They serve Asahikawa ramen which basically blends tonkotsu (pork bone) and seafood soup for its broth, but without the heavy "pork" smell. This style of ramen is also distinguished by its use of curly egg noodles.
Although "shoyu" (soy sauce flavour) is regarded as the popular choice for Asahikawa ramen, I chose my personal favourite "shio" (salt flavour) ramen to try. It felt nice and light, not too salty or greasy, even with the addition of butter (oh how the fragrance of butter lifts everything to a higher plane!).
The chashu is meltingly soft, negi (scallions) strong and pungent, and the menma (braised bamboo shoots) is tasty without any offensive smell. However the noodles were not as al dente as I would have liked (Miharu's Sapporo noodles are much springier). Oh, there is a bottle of red miso paste among the many condiments available at your table. Try stirring some of that into your soup if you find it too bland. While generally not a big fan of miso, I liked how it imparted a sweeter and stronger taste.
Hubby chose the cold ramen, a colourful assembly of chashu, cucumber, fried egg, ginger etc on top of the same curly egg noodles, all drenched in a savoury soy-based dressing. We still prefer the version at Noodle House Ken though.
We also shared some gyoza. Decently flavourful and good-sized but did not particularly wow me (sometimes I wonder if I've been too spoiled).
The menu is fairly simple. Choose from miso, shoyu or shio base soups and various toppings (vegetables, butter & corn, or chashu). A couple of side dishes complete the show. They also serve free-flow iced Japanese tea (I think it's mugicha).
While I've never been to Asahikawa in Hokkaido, I suspect the ramen at Baikohken here has been tweaked to suit Singapore's climate and tastes - but for once, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Asahikawa (being the coldest city in Japan) often sees its noodles topped with a considerable layer of oil that helps trap the heat and keep the ramen warm in their freezing weather. We don't need that here. Also, it seems less salty than most Japanese ramen tends to be. Better news for your kidneys, I say.
With its location so near Raffles Place, I hear it's near impossible to get a place here during weekday lunch hours. So come in the evenings or weekends/public holidays.
7 North Canal Road
11am - 3pm for lunch
5pm - 10pm for dinner (last order 9.30pm)