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100,000 bowls of ramen sold in a year
Publication Date : 09-08-2012
After a year of serving hearty bowls of ramen, Ikkousha has been crowned Ultimate Ramen Champion 2011. Its classic tonkotsu, or pork broth ramen, features thin Hakata-style noodles.
Since the competition for the best ramen outlet out of six started in July last year at Bugis+ (formerly Iluma), more than 100,000 bowls have been sold at Ikkousha.
Ramen fan Joanne Ng, 28, an accountant who eats ramen once a month, says: "When I first tried Ikkousha's ramen last year, I thought it was quite mild and felt that the others were more flavourful. I wouldn't have picked it as a winner then.
"However, some of the ramen broths were too rich and oily for my liking so I ended up going back to Ikkousha. I'm not too surprised it won."
The Straits Times' restaurant critic Wong Ah Yoke had also picked Ikkousha as the winner in his review of the Ramen Champion contenders last year. He says: "Every component in a bowl of Ikkousha ramen is just right. The noodles are thin but still firm and the chashu has just the right balance of fat and meat. Also, the broth is tasty without being too salty and doesn't have a strong porky smell, which is probably why it goes down well with Singaporeans."
Ikkousha's ramen also scored top marks when rated by nine judges who were present at the media event on Tuesday at Bugis+.
They included Hiroyuki Yamamoto, minister and deputy chief of mission of the Japanese embassy in Singapore, chef Andre Chiang of Restaurant Andre at Bukit Pasoh and Kumo Japanese Kaiseki Restaurant's executive chef Hirohashi Nobuaki.
Another judge, Koji Tashiro, executive director of Komars Group, which owns Ramen Champion, says in Japanese via a translator: "This tonkotsu-style of ramen is actually not very popular in Japan but very successful in other countries.
"But what is important is not only the consistency in taste. It is also about the effort put into making ramen every day as well as the promotions and service standard."
Runner-up Bario, which features a rich broth with thick, chewy noodles, sold more than 65,000 bowls.
Ikkousha, Bario, Gantetsu, Iroha, Tai-Sho-Ken and newcomer Aoyama will continue into the second year of competition for the Ultimate Ramen Champion 2012 at Bugis+. It ends on July 30 next year. Tetsu has bowed out of the ring.
Taking its place is Aoyama, with its special tonkotsu ramen (S$15 or US$12).
Its chef, Hideaki Aoyama, says in Japanese: "I was afraid that Singaporeans would find my ramen oily or salty but the response so far has been very good. I'm confident that my ramen is the best."
Over at Ramen Champion at Changi Airport's Terminal 3, which opened in December last year, Taka No Tsume is spicing things up with a spicy broth plus brinjal and fried chicken chop toppings.
Chef Tetsuya Tomiyama, 32, says he is excited about Singaporeans taking to his creative Sichuan spin on ramen. He says in Japanese: "In Japan, there is tasty ramen everywhere and so I wanted to be creative with my own signature version. I'm sure it will create an impression on diners."
Competition may be heating up but Tashiro is confident that it will only raise the standard of ramen here.
He says: "When I first came to Singapore five years ago, the standard of ramen was not very good. Then, many brands such as Ippudo, Marutama and Baikohken have come in and continued to raise the standard of ramen here. Everyone wants to be No. 1 in Singapore and it is the same for ramen."
He has plans to open Ramen Champion in Hong Kong, China, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Engineer James Cheong, 30, says: "I was hoping there would be more new players coming in but at least the current chefs have introduced new items. I will definitely try the ramen from the new players. The Sichuan-style version sounds very intriguing."