Thursday, October 13, 2011

Search for Ramen 11: Keisuke at Orchid Hotel

My makan buddy Larry called up excited after reading a few blogs on this ramen place. He even took a recce drive by Tras Street and studied the queue pattern of the little restaurant in the newly opened Orchid Hotel. He concluded that to eat early, and well, we needed to be there by 11:20am.


Queue at 11:58am when we had finished our lunch

The restaurant opens at 11:30am...when we arrived at 20 minutes past the eleventh hour, there was already one lady in front of us in the queue...and within a minute after we arrived, a group of perhaps 3 office workers arrived, and queued behind us...and a few minutes later, more of their friends joined, making the group to be about 16 pax just at opening time.



The restaurant is very tiny. A counter, and perhaps 4 small tables. And max capacity is probably no more than 18. The doors swung open at precisely 11:30, "irashimase!!!"....the entire staff seemed to be young Japanese chaps. The wall was decorated with classical Japanese movie posters...the place really reminded me of Tokyo. Incidentally, at publishing time, I am in Tokyo, having arrived the night before to do a series of interviews and talks to promote my book. I will be eating at San Pau, a 3 star Michelin restaurant in Spain, which has a branch in Tokyo...which I understand is also Michelin starred. And will report on that. And of course, more street food in Tokyo. I will also be travelling to Nikko to photograph the fall colours, so watch out for that in my photo blog.

Anyway, back to ramen...

To minimise confusion, oen places one's order by ticking a small piece of menu, like tim sum...type of broth - spicy, regular or black sesame. Strength of broth - strong, medium, light. Amount of fat - a lot, regular, little. And hardness of noodles - soft, medium, hard. They indicated that medium was the style they serve in Japan.

While you wait, you can feast on the free help yourself pickeled taugeh and hard boiled eggs on the table.



Larry pronounced the taugeh to be super shiok. Spicy, crunchy. Sweet.

So Alan ordered a regular tonkotsu broth in regular strength, with medium fat, medium done-ness.



We all had a taste of each other's broth. Alan's broth was good...thick, savoury. Rich.

Larry had the spicy:



The same stock base, but now spiced up with the chilli. Very nice. Note the large piece of dried seaweed sticking out on the side of the bowl. Shiok.

And mine...black sesame with strong broth, and hard noodles...



Superb. The black sesame brought out the full flavour of the pork bone broth. If you shy away from strong porky flavour, this might not be the soup for you. But I love the robust, thick, almost creamy, rich tasting broth. Very good. The chasu was beautifully done, thinly sliced, and oh so melt in your mouth. We all ordered medium fats...and noticed pieces of uncooked lard floating in the broth. Not bad, but I think next time, I will ask for less fats.

My noodles were "al dente"...to use an Italian term to describe Japanese noodles. Very good. The egg was also superb...almost semi-liquid within, tasty.


Overall, one of the better ramen places. The scene is hotting up since I began to chronicle the ramen places in Singapore with my Quest for Ramen series. Now we have a stable stock of ramenyas to choose from. Tampopo, Santouka, Menya Shinchan, Ippudo, and now Keisuke. Ganbettei!



Keisuke Tonkotsu King (Orchid Hotel)
1 Tras Link, #01-19 Orchid Hotel, Singapore
Tel:6636 0855

Daily: 11.30am–3pm, 6pm–10.30pm
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