It feels like Singapore is crawling with ramen-ya. On our limited eating expeditions we’ve already reviewed all 6 stalls in Ramen Champion (Iluma + Changi Airport) and Tonkotsu King, and also sampled but not reviewed Ippudo and Marutama (for one reason or another). Anyway, the latest ramen stall to catch our eye was Menya Musashi.
Another Japanese chain to make its way to these shores, Menya Musashi is slightly different, if only for its strong samurai motif. Miyamoto Musashi, is widely renowned to be the most famous samurai in the history of Japan, and the restaurant is full of samurai themed images.
At any rate, the ramen of Menya Musashi is also highly regarded by various blogs I’ve come across, although each outlet tends to be slightly different from the other and they each have their own characteristic. However, their traditional soup base is is made from chicken and pork bones as well as dried saury. In this outlet’s case, since they only serve tonkotsu (pork broth) style, I’m not certain how far they’ve diverged from their normal style. I guess it’s a smart choice though, seeing how popular the tonkotsu style is here.
In fact, it’s so popular that the queue here is quite ridiculous. We went quite late for lunch at about 2 pm so avoided that, but I’ve seen long queue lines during the peak dinner hours.
White Kakuni Ramen. Truthfully, I wanted to order the ‘black version’, but I really wanted to sample the ‘basic’ entry level version first. Anyway the soup itself is very tasty, but somehow feels cleaner and less oily than Tonkotsu King or Ippudo’s for example. It is still very porky in flavour nonetheless. The noodles were also quite thick and chewy, completely unlike the hakata-style ramen that uses the thinner type.
I personally much prefer kakuni when eating ramen as it’s usually more flavourful and I just prefer having a chunkier bite; this didn’t disappoint while it was also still tender with just the right amount of fat. The egg on the other hand was rather ordinary. I’m not a huge fan of black fungus either, although I guess it didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the ramen much.
Black Tsukemen. The PigPig meanwhile, continued with her quest to sample tsukemen everywhere; in case you’ve forgotten, tsukemen is a dry-er version of ramen whereby you dip the pre-cooked noodles into the dipping sauce. We first tried this in Ippudo NYC where we also learned that there can be both hot and cold versions (somewhat akin to eat cold soba I guess).
Anyway the black colour in the dipping sauce, again like Ippudo and Hide-Chan in NYC, comes from the black garlic oil which gives a brilliant smoky garlicky aroma. However, since this is a tsukemen, the dipping soup here is more concentrated in flavour to a regular soup. Even towards the end, when the dipping soup has been diluted from the water in the ramen, it was still a bit too salty to drink on its own. As a dip however, it had a good balance of being flavourful enough.
The noodles were the same as in the normal ramen bowl, which I think suited the tsukemen style better thanks to its chewiness. The cha-shu here was also, by far, the best cha-shu in ramen we’ve had so far in Singapore. Even though it’s still cut in the same thin strips that’s typical of ramen, Menya Musashi’s cha-shu had a slightly grilled charred surface which gave it a little bit more ooomph in the flavour department. Small details like that will set apart the best from the rest of the herd.
We were starving when we entered the restaurant so in our greed we also ordered a little bowl of rice with pickled and seaweed on top. It was tasty if rather unremarkable. We finished it before our ramen arrived, and in retrospect, we should have ladled some ramen soup onto it!
Altogether, the bill was just under $50 for the two of us. The restaurant was only ¾ full when we were there, and service was good and prompt; the waiters routinely came to top up our glasses of iced tea.
I think one’s choice of a certain ramen-ya over another is a purely personal choice, depending on things like the soup broth, noodles or toppings. However, Menya Musashi has definitely got a lot of things right: the soup is great, I like the chewy noodles, and their cha-shu is the best I’ve had in a bowl of ramen. Right now, I’ll be completely happy to go to any of Menya Musashi, Tonkotsu King and Riki (from Ramen Champion @ Changi).
252 North Bridge Road,
#01-16 Raffles City Shopping Centre,
Tel: +65 6336 6500