Sunday, May 16, 2010
Keisuke Tokyo Ramen in Singapore
Julia, Momo and I checked out Keisuke Tokyo Ramen for its signature shrimp-based broth. They have basically two flavours - plain and miso (Keisuke Prawn Stock Miso Ramen Special, S$20, above). We were wondering how different a prawn stock ramen would be from the usual pork bone broth that we are much more used to. Would it be an eye-popping new experience or would it taste like an expensive "hae mee" (local prawn noodles)?
Keisuke uses ingredients imported from Japan. They roast lots of prawn heads before boiling it in chicken stock on low fire over eight hours. Shiro shoyu (white soy or wheat soy sauce), kombu from Hidaka, dried mackerel fish flakes and preserved vegetables are added for flavour.
Well, they certainly raise a couple of eyebrows presentation-wise. The ramen comes in a bowl that looks like an egg chair (it's designed to mimic a wine goblet). The curved dome is to trap the aroma of the prawn stock, so you can really savour it as you lean downwards for a slurp.
Actually the entire restaurant already smells of fragrant prawn, even as you step in, so maybe that's not even necessary!
The Keisuke Prawn Stock Special Ramen (S$19). I thought I would see a prawn or two, but it comes with chicken chunks.
The flavours are pretty robust, and you can imagine many a shellfish died for it. Apparently ramen master Keisuke Takeda is trained in French cuisine, so it's little surprise this creation comes across like a consomme. Yes, in some respects it's a bit like our hae mee, but much more complex and not as sweet (local hae mee tends to have rock sugar in it). In fact, mine had a slightly bitter charcoal-like tinge to it. Julia's bowl was more subdued and pleasant. All of us preferred the plain prawn stock to the miso version. But I liked the fried garlic bits the miso bowl had.
The noodles themselves were a little too soft for my liking. If I do come here again, I will request for them to be barikata (extra firm).
Are you curious about the fine reddish strands? They were too large to be saffron, and a check with the waitresses revealed that these are shredded dried pepper. I think they serve more as a decorative accent than for flavour. The yuzu slivers are a lot punchier.
The "Special" ramen gives you all the toppings available. The wontons are already in the broth. On a separate platter come extra goodies - Ajitsuke Tamago (soy sauce boiled egg) has a soft but not runny yolk which is great for people who prefer fully cooked eggs. We all liked the Yamakurage (preserved lettuce stems) because it's crunchy. The chasyu chicken too, is not bad - full-bodied chicken taste.
The prawn gyoza (S$7.50) gives you two long contiguous dumplings. Pricey but reasonably tasty. Interestingly, the vinegar provided as the dip here isn't very acidic. I guess it's to allow us to savour the delicate flavours of the prawn. The chili oil, however, has a distinct bite, which I welcomed.
The Ebi Mayonnaise (S$6) is really small. Four butterflied prawns deep-fried and coated with a mayo-based sauce. A rather Chinese-like dish, but then again, ramen itself is of Chinese origin as well.
This is Keisuke's first overseas restaurant. They have nine outlets in Japan. The ramen they serve is certainly different from the other types of ramen crowding the scene. The more, the merrier, I say.
Decor here is dark but cosy, with stark lighting. We appreciated the extra-friendly and polite service even though there was one small error in our orders. I like that they use Japanese to convey orders and number of guests, beyond just the token "Irrashaimase". Oh yes, and they serve iced water, just like in Japan.
KEISUKE TOKYO RAMEN
9 Raffles Boulevard
#P03-02, Parco Marina Bay
Open Daily 10.30am – 9.30pm