15 August 2014

Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri

On this island where ramen shops are sprouting faster than the speed at which this blog is updated, a lord of the ramen has claimed the king title even faster than anyone can say oiishi.

Keisuke-san has created his empire of ramen shops, with Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri his fifth and latest outlet anchored in the ulu ulu Parkway Parade. And all his outlets bear the name of the royal status - “king”.

Having previously ate at his Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons outlet (read review), I was very confident that I would love Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri too.

Friends always ask me what type of men I like. My answer is always Ramen. Err.. anyway.. finding a favourite ramen is akin to finding a partner. For example, some people like fat one, some people like thin one. Some people like it thick, some people like it natural. I was referring to the noodle and soup respectively. 

Keisuke-San knows this well and has allowed his customers to customize their bowl of ramen, right down to whether you want pork chasyu (though that sounds like a trick question). Similar to the Four Seasons outlet, the much-raved bean sprouts and hard-boiled eggs are free flow appetizers while you wait for your hot ramen to be served. 

Four special ramens take limelight at Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Matsuri. There is a story behind each ramen - each represents a Matsuri, which means festival in Japanese.

Tonkotsu Ramen Nebuta

One ramen caught my eye first, like a handsome guy would - The tonkotsu ramen nebuta ($13.90++, above). Described as mixed pork broth with fried fish stock, it sounded like something I would like as it incorporated seafood flavours. The very long-winded story of the ramen can be found in this wiki link. Anyway if you trust my english comprehension skills, the ramen in short pays tribute to a festival that surrounds a historical battle. 

One sip of the broth confirmed this is the work of Keisuke San. The broth was thick with collagen which was due to the pork bones cooked in the soup for a longer time than normal. It is evident from the gelatin texture of the broth - a trademark of Keisuke ramen. While the tonkotsu broth was thick, the taste was not as intense or umami-packed as I expected. The fragrance and sweetness of the seafood stock was subtle and not very distinct. Even after I added the sesame seeds, it was still not as flavorful as I wanted. This would appeal to those who prefer their ramen to have a clean traditional flavour over experimentation.

The chasyu used were the lean portions, which I personally found it tough and not sweet enough. There were very little fatty portions which were lovely, sweet, tasty and melts in the mouth. It would be ideal if the ratio of fat to lean portion is higher. 

Nevertheless, I love love love the noodles which were cooked to al dente perfection. It was my ideal width, and bouncy when chewed. 

One thing that Keisuke ramen never disappoints me is their soft-boiled eggs. Flavored, runny and sweet, they were soft-boiled to perfection. 

Rating : 4/5

Tonkotsu Ramen Awaodori

On first look, I thought the Awaodori ($13.90++, above) doesn't look impressive with its more-brownish-than-normal broth. It is actually a tonkotsu broth plus sukiyaki broth, topped with a raw egg yolk. But one sip of the broth proved that looks can be deceiving. The 2-in-1 broth was amazing, thick, flavorful, sweet and umami-packed. It was well balanced and it was as if the soup had its own body. Although by 3/4 of the bowl, one might feel overwhelmed by the sweet broth.

Instead of chasyu, pork slices were used for this ramen. They were thinly sliced with a perfect ratio of lean to fat juicy parts which was a burst of sweet and savory in every bite.  

My most favourite out of the 4. Rating: 4.5/5

Tonkotsu Ramen Sanjya

Sanjya ($13.90++, above) was created for the spicy lovers as it is made up of black, green and red spices sauces. The three different spices are meant to pay tribute to the three founders of Tokyo's oldest temple. 

I don't like my ramen spicy. Certain food are meant to be spicy- the spicier, the more shiok. Like laksa. Like tom yam. But not ramen. It will just mask the umami savoriness of ramen. 

On first look, our Sanjya looks scary with the huge blot of black pepper, red chilli sauce and green chilli sauce. For wimps that don't dare to disintegrate the black blot of pepper and mix the sauces, don't worry. The bomb is fake one. The soup was ok and not as spicy as I thought. It was more peppery rather than spicy hot and numbing. Maybe it is to suit the Japanese palate? Noted tummy was not on fire after eating Sanjya.

Rating : 3.5/5

Tonkotsu Ramen Yukimatsuri

Ramen Yukimatsuri ($13.90++, above) is named after an annual festival held during the snowy winter in Sapporo where snow and ice sculptures are constructed along the city streets. Inspired by snow, Ramen Yukimatsuri spots a generous blot of cheese powder on top of a thick miso cum tonkotsu broth. One would catch a whiff of the pungent smell of the powdery cheese and miso when the ramen is served.

Unfortunately, our Yukimatsuri seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The broth was a confusing mix of heavy salty fermented miso taste, pungent cheese which disintegrated into lumps, chilli flakes which gave the soup a spicy kick, and sweetness from onions. The noodle saved the day.

Rating : 2.5/5

Decor is refreshing, colorful and imaginative - adjectives that are equally apt for the lord of ramen and his inventive ramens. 

Kudos to Keisuke san who is always pushing the boundaries of ramen cooking, and trying to introduce interesting twists to the conventional ramen. 

So which is your favourite ramen? Do share with me!

Address: 80 Marine Parade Road #B1-18A Parkway Parade, Singapore 449269

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