Monday, November 25, 2013

Media invite: Ramen Champion

Ramen has gained a significant amount of popularity and has become a notable dish in the food landscape of Singapore. Perhaps the rest of Asia as well.

Recently, Ramen Champion increases its reach with their 3rd outlet at Great World City and I was honoured to be invited for a food tasting session with some of the other food bloggers.   

Ramen Champion is a multi-brand ramen concept that souces popular ramen brands from Japan, and where each ramen brand competes for customer votes in the annual competition 'The Ultimate Ramen Champion'. As of current, the four brands represented at Great World City outlet are Butaou and Miyamoto (new brands), Tonkotso Ltto and Bishamon Zero (existing brands).

Likewise to the Bugis+ outlet that I have visited, Ramen Champion offers a free seating environment.

However, this outlet at Great World City is much smaller since there are only 4 brands compared to other outlets with more brands.

Our night started with cups of refreshing Yuzu drink. I had at least 3 cups of these babies because they were seriously so refreshingly good! Thanks Malcolm for the great recommendation.  

Sapporo Miso Special Ramen, $14.80 (Bishamon Zero)

Bishamon Zero maintains the original flavours from Sapporo, Hokkaido - the capital of ramen in Japan. The broth is mainly made up of pork and chicken while the pork belly cha shu is boiled in the base broth for 2 hours before cooking in a special homemade cha shu sauce.

I love it when my ramen looks firm and curly. However, I was a little disappointed as the noodles tasted a little overly cooked. It wasn't the firm and slippery noodles with a good elastic spring that I was anticipating for. However, I did enjoy the lovely soup broth which was really flavourable.

Special Tonkotsu Ramen, $16.50 (Tonkotsu Itto)

Tonkotsu Itto orignating from Tokyo but the cooking style is of Hakata ramen. Their soup broth is however prepared in the traditional tonkotsu way where pork bones are cooked for several hours to allow the essence to infuse. 

Unlike the normal ramen, Tonkotsu Itto's ramen is moderately thin and straight. In fact it looked and tasted somewhat similar to our wanton mee's noodles. I love their soup broth too, which has a really rich and milky taste. The only disappointment I have was that the egg was overly cooked.

Pork and vegetable ramen, $16 (Miyamoto)

Originating from Tokyo as well, Miyamoto won the award of '2012 Narita City Most Popular Ramen'. Their soup broth is made from double boiled pork and chicken base.

I was seriously taken aback when I saw the size of Miyomoto ramen. Huge may not be enough to describe it. Every bowl of Miyamoto ramen looks rich but tasted light as it is well balanced with a mountain of cabbage and beansprouts. I especially love the tender pork belly cha shu as well.

Unlike the thin ramen that we always see, Miyamoto ramen's noodles were super thick. I guess my vote still goes to thinner noodles as I felt they gave a more elastic spring. Nonetheless I enjoyed this bowl. I guess the piles of vegetable really did magic since ramen broth can be quite greasy. So it was refreshing combination to the tastebud.

Special Sukiyaki Ramen, $16 (Butaou)

Originating from Saitama Prefecture, Butaou was awarded 'Outstanding Ramen Rookie Award' at Hong Kong's The Ultimate Ramen Champion competition. Butaou's broth is cooked with pork bones and vegetables over long hours to achieve the great taste. Like the name suggest, Sukiyaki ramen is inspired by Sukiyaki, a popular Japanese dish topped with sliced meat marinated with soy sauce, sugar and sake. This is unlike the usual use of thick cha shu and hard boiled egg. Perhaps this is also the reason why the soup broth is sweeter as compared to other ramens which tends to be on a salty taste profiles.

Every bowl of ramen is served with sukiyaki pork, menma (bamboo shoot), leek and SLOW-BOILED EGG. Yes, soft boiled eggs. Totally in love with the soup when I let the runny egg yolk infused with the broth which has the rigth level of sweetness!

Butaou's noodles are on the thinner side which was cooked to near perfection. I declare this bowl of ramen to be the best of the night for me.

Of yes, this is food blogger at work. ^^

Other than the 4 ramen presented, we were also served with some sides to share.

Okonomiyaki Gyoza with bonito flakes (5 pcs), $5.80 (Bishamon Zero)

Mentaiko Gyoza (5 pcs), $5.80 (Bishamon Zero)

As compared to the okonomiyaki gyoza, I prefer this mentaiko gyoza more. I thought it was more flavourable with the mentaiko.  

Tori Karaage, $4.80 (Bishamon Zero)

Karaage was fried to perfection and it doesn't give a very greasy/oily after taste as with most fried food.

Spicy Chicken (3 pcs), $5 (Butaou)

We were expecting the chicken wings to be crispy, however they weren't. A slight disappointment on the first bite, however our tastebuds were later pampered with the juiciness and tenderness of the flesh! This spicy chicken was definitely a good surprise for the table. Rest assure it wasn't spicy, just some chilli powders sprinkled on top. :)

After 4 bowls of ramen and 4 sides, the 4 greedy humans decided to stay longer and order more food to try. :P

 Phoebe's partner decided to have the Special Tonkotsu Ramen (Tonkotsu Itto) once more as well as a Donburi. While the boy and I got Fried fish tofu and Chilled tofu (Bishamon Zero) to share.  

The most humble looking don filled with yummy crispy cha shu and leek. Initally I thought of just having a mouth to taste. But.. I could stop afterwhich. I swear I'm hardly a rice person, but this don took my heart away. I guess I just love Japanese rice and the sweet teriyaki sauce does magic too!

I admit, I can't resist fish tofu. Despite my stomach threatening to explode anytime, I need to have them! True enough, the fish tofu were up to my expectation, smooth and silky were what I was looking for.

We also had some chilled tofu, which was refreshing to our tastebuds! Much needed after the many bowls of high salt-content ramens. Definitely a good choice if you're looking for a 'lighter' side dish.

Once again, thank you Raman Champion for the great night of food and laughters! :)

1 Kim Seng Promenade,
Great World City #01-22,
Singapore 237994
Contact: 6235 1295
Operating hours:  DAILY 11:30 am to 10:30 pm


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