Unsurprisingly, this is a ramen joint that specializes in tonkotsu style ramen; essentially the soup is made from the essence of pigs, bones and all. In fact, they’re so sub-specialized, they pretty much only sell tonkotsu ramen!
Located in a corner ground floor shoplot near Tanjong Pagar MRT station, it is actually really easy to find: just look for the queue. We went early at 6 pm and even then had to wait approximately 30 minutes before we ended up with our first mouthful of ramen.
To be fair though, they do try to speed up the process by giving out the menu to people waiting in the queue. In fact, it’s not just the menu they’re giving out, it’s the ordering sheet of the whole menu. It does work as well, as within 2 minutes of being seated inside the rather cramped restaurant, steaming hot bowls of ramen was placed in front of our greedy faces.
The distinctive thing about this restaurant is the ability to custom-make (to a certain degree) your preferred style of ramen. The options are basically soup type (all tonkotsu), choice of toppings (seaweed, egg, chashu), “taste of the soup” (presumably how intense or concentrated the soup is), how much chicken oil is added, and the texture of the noodles.
We tried a “Red Spicy” and a “Black Spicy”, the former’s spice coming from chilli while the latter is based on black pepper. Luckily, the addition of the spicy paste is on the side of the bowl, so we were still able to sample the soup before mixing it in. We found the soup to be very flavourful, very strong pork flavour, but also very oily (with “normal” oil level) and fatty (pork fats floating around). Personally, I felt the black spicy version to be more aromatic while the red one seemed to lack a little something, although it has to be said that the soup was already very tasty!
Shortly before the ramen arrived, a little pestle and mortar was given with some black and white sesame seeds inside. No definite instructions were given, but its pretty self explanatory I assumed. Anyway I grinded it up and tossed them all into my bowl, which added a nice extra aroma, but I felt that using the entire volume given was a bit too much; half would have been enough.
The egg given in the bowl of ramen was very good, seasoned enough to stand on its own and with a molten yolk within; probably the best egg we’ve had in Singapore ramen stores so far. The chashu however, was nothing to write home about.
There was a basket of eggs on the table, which we had to share with strangers; sadly, these eggs were plain old hard-boiled and didn’t taste anywhere near as good as the ones in the bowl. There was also a little container of bean sprouts, slightly pickled. Both the eggs and bean sprouts were complimentary (and as far as I can tell, without limit, although how much eggs or bean sprouts can one eat anyway?). Personally, I liked adding the slightly tangy sprouts to my bowl of very rich soup as I feel that gives it better balance.
On the noodles itself, they’re the thin stringy type normally associated with hakata style tonkotsu ramen. The PigPig found my “normal firmness” to be a bit on the soft side however, she much preferred her own “hard firmness”. I also ordered a kaedama (an extra portion of just noodles to add into my bowl of leftover soup) of “hard” level, but I think as the soup had cooled down by then, it didn’t continue cooking/softening in the soup and remained a bit too hard for both of us. Basically, if you’re gonna order kaedama, be warned and don’t order the “hard” firmness!
Altogether, the two bowls of ramen cost us just under $40, including taxes. Water, or rather, tea, was free, available to hot and thirsty people waiting in the queue.
Keisuke Tonkotsu King (Orchid Hotel)
1 Tras Link,
#01-19 Orchid Hotel,
Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar
Tel: +65 6636 0855