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Publication Date : 16-04-2012
One of Tokyo's popular noodle chains, Menya Musashi, which opened in Raffles City last Thursday, adds to the growing ramen scene here.
The brand with the samurai logo, which has 11 outlets in Japan, is popular for its newfangled ramen - think chocolate-infused or served with vinegar. But these are not available here yet as its director Jiro Yatogi, 35, wants diners to get a taste of their signature ramen first.
Yatogi, who was here last week for the 50-seater restaurant's opening, says in Japanese via a translator: "In Singapore, we have one outlet, so it will take some time to introduce new flavours. In Japan, because we create different types of ramen for each outlet, customers will come back for more."
Three types of thick soup bases are available - white (pork and fish-based), black (onion and garlic-based) and red (spicy). The ramen is topped with cha shu (S$12.90 or US$10.33), kakuni or braised pork slices (S$14.90) and shabu shabu or thin pork slices (S$13.90).
Tsukemen (S$13.90), where the ramen is served separately from the soup, is also available. Carb-lovers can order up to 600g of ramen (normal portion is 120g) at no extra cost.
Yatogi, who has been a ramen chef for 13 years, is confident his noodles will stand out against those at other popular Japanese restaurants here, including Ippudo and Tampopo.
He says: "Our ramen is different. We constantly make new types of ramen and use special steam convection to maintain humidity levels. Even if someone falls sick, the other chefs can continue making ramen of the same quality."
His favourite creation - which he may consider taking to Singapore - is called reisaimen, where cold ramen is served with a shot of vinegar. Like a science experiment, the colour of the noodles changes when the vinegar is added to the bowl.
For Valentine's Day last year, he created Miso Ghana 2011, a chocolate-infused ramen in collaboration with Korean manufacturer Lotte Confectionery. The miso-based ramen is topped with minced lamb and pork cooked in milk chocolate with chocolate wafer garnish.
Another of his inventions is bubble cheese ramen, where the ramen comes topped with cheese fondant.
"You drink the soup, taste the ramen and then break the fondant for the cheese to flow out. The flavours keep changing with each bite," he says and expressed interest in creating a special ramen for Singapore too.
Since the first flagship store opened in 1996, Menya Musashi - named after a samurai legend - has created 140 kinds of ramen. The 1,350 sq ft outlet here is Menya Musashi's second overseas venture outside Japan, after Hong Kong. It will next open in Malaysia.
Menya Musashi is brought to Singapore by Japan Foods Holding, which owns other ramen brands such as Ajisen Ramen and Aoba Ramen.
Japan Foods Holding executive chairman Takahashi Kenichi, 55, says Menya Musashi's entry here will not be competition for his current brands as they are of "different price points".
Yatogi adds: "We can improve the ramen industry in Singapore by exposing people to different types of ramen. Our ramen is never boring and appeals to all the senses."