Torimaru @ Ramen Champion: the Next Better Player?
Torimaru is the newest contender at Ramen Champion, and if the ramen I tasted yesterday is anything to go by, the reigning six brands ought to be worried indeed!
Torimaru is bringing a rather unique take on ramen, unlike what we're used to having here in Singapore. Instead of the traditional Tonkotsu soup made from pork bones. Head Chef Takano Koji is introducing Tori Paitan, a broth made from five different parts of chicken and five different kinds of vegetables.
When asked about the inspiration behind his dishes, Chef Koji explains that Tori Paitan is all the rage in Japan now, and he simply adapted it by creating his own original noodles to batch match the broth. His demeanour betrayed nothing but humility despite the fact that he experimented with over 10kinds of noodles and personally consulted suppliers before finally producing this splendid rendition that (I find) he has every right to be proud of.
Signature Special Chicken Ramen ($16)
To be honest, I had my doubts before trying the original tori paitan ramen (would it be too heavy? Too cloying?), but these worries proved completely groundless once I had my first taste.
The pure white chicken soup was creamy and rich as promised, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it retained a certain lightness throughout the meal. The central taste of chicken essence was perfectly complemented by the crunchiness of shredded negi (Japanese leek) and sharpness of minced onion. The accompanying chicken breast chashu definitely deserves praise as well, being fresh, tender and subtly flavourful. This bowl of ramen is definitely for the health conscious folks - the broth packed full of collagen and the chashu made from lean meat. Now who says you can't nourish your body while indulging in the blissful goodness of ramen?
Chef Koji's ramen noodles were done just right, with its bite remaining up to the very end, even after soaking in the piping hot soup. Even my eating partner who normally prefers udon over ramen based on texture was duly impressed. As for the last component of the ramen bowl, everyone loves golden soft boiled lava eggs - I have no complaints here. The only thing that fell short were the meatballs. Despite their promising exterior, they had an off texture and were rather bland, adding nothing significant to the overall dish.
Special Chicken Tsukemen ($16.80)
Chef Koji believes that the success of any bowl of ramen depends on the affinity between the noodles and broth. The conviction was clearly highlighted in this dish. For the tsukemen, the chicken broth is delightfully spiked with garlic and shoyu making it more savoury and robust in taste. A thicker, springier kind of ramen noodles served cool, makes a wonderful match for the piping hot broth. The thoughtful inclusion of some neatly bundled spinach furthers its equilibrium by adding a dimension of freshness amd slight bitterness. Besides the good balance of taste and texture, the novelty of dipping and slurping, I can foresee this dish being a hot favourite amongst all!
Oh, and if you thought things couldn't get any better, a clear bonito soup is provided near the end of your meal. Called soup wari, this is to dilute the dipping broth for the purpose of drinking and enjoying it like a regular ramen broth.
Other side options available from the new contender include the Chicken Nanban ($8), Chicken Salad ($8.80) and yuzu sorbet. The former sure carries a 'wow-factor' with fried chicken pieces so huge, they each require three bites to finish. While the meat itself was succulent, the skin failed to stay crisp and became a little tough, rather chew resistant. Dip it in the smooth homemade tartar dressing for some relief and be sure to hit it with a squeeze of lemon for that all-enhancing zing!
In conclusion, I had a great experience at Torimaru and I must applaud Chef Koji's valiant attempt in crafting his own ramen and the balancing of his dishes. Some small tweaks do need to be made regarding the meatballs, but I maintain that Torimaru presents itself as a strong competitor for Ramen Champion 2016. I encourage everyone to give the Tori Paiten Ramen a shot: there are currently the original, shoyu, spicy and tsukemen variations, and there are plans for miso and vegeterian varietals in the upcoming months!
201 Victoria Street
t: 6238 1011
Daily: 11 30am - 10 30pm
Written and Photographer by Jordan Ong. Jordan finds happiness in the simple: to eat and drink and find satisfaction in all her toil. Besides a deep love for artisan bread, she also has a taste for adventure, activism and anything alternative.