The city is awash in porky, soupy goodness—but these are the ones worth the calories

If you think you know the best places to get ramen in Singapore, think again. The landscape has changed a lot in recent months, and while the old stalwarts remain steadfast, there are plenty of new and exciting contenders. Here’s an updated list to make your way through soon.

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

The Central is where many established Japanese restaurant chains reside, including this 20-something year-old brand with over 50 outlets in Japan, tucked away in a tricky-to-find hallway but worth the hunt. They specialize in cha shu, miso ramen and shio ramen. It’s easy to see why the place has remained so popular all this while: the tonkotsu-broth is so rich and creamy it might as well be pork-flavored buttermilk, and the thin, springy, al dente noodles absorb the flavor of the soup nicely—to say nothing of the equally solid sides such as char shu rice, salmon roe rice and more.

Ippudo

One of Singapore’s (and indeed the world’s) most well-known ramen chains, Ippudo’s Hakata-style tonkotsu-based bowls are eternal hotsellers. Try the original Shiromaru broth, with thin and straight Hakata noodles. You have the option of also adding yummy toppings like pork belly, tamago and more. For a kick, there’s their sublime Akamaru Shin-aji, which also gets extra miso paste and garlic oil. There are other ramen options, too, along with sides like their signature gyoza, the spicy shrimp mayo and refreshing cucumber salad.

Kanshoku

In naming his ramen bar after a Japanese phrase that means “to finish eating every last bit of your food” Melvin Ang isn’t overstating things. With zero formal training in cooking, Ang set out a few years ago to learn everything he could about making amazing ramen, travelling to Japan and learning from the best. What you have at Kanshoku’s three branches across Singapore is delightful twists on traditional ramen. Whatever you do, don’t miss the signature dry truffle ramen, Kanshoku’s most popular dish, selling 7,500 bowls every month. French angel hair pasta is tossed in truffle oil and comes topped with a sous-vide egg, cha shu and Italian black truffle shavings. Savory to the max!


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Tonkotsu King

Tanjong Pagar’s Orchid Hotel is no stranger to delicious and affordable food, with several big-deal Japanese restaurants along the same strip. Among them is this tonkotsu ramen gem, by celebrity chef Keisuke Takeda, behind a veritable global empire and certainly Singapore’s biggest ramen chain.  The space is small, seating only about 20 or less, and has homey little touches like small mortars and pestles for you to grind up some sesame seeds and bowls of boiled eggs. Ramen starts at under $12, going up in price with toppings like a sheet of Japanese seaweed and flavored egg. Brothwise, your choices include the classic tonkotsu, and two spicy varieties: black pepper and red chilli. They’re all good.

Marutama Ramen

With four branches in Singapore, Marutama is a hit among those who aren’t crazy about the tonkotsu broth. The decor is casual, with monochromatic and wooden Japanese touches like beige panelled walls and open kitchens, making Marutama more apt for a casual lunch than date night. On the menu, you’ll find MSG-free broths involving pure chicken and even seven types of nuts. Seafood lovers should try the unusual Ebi Ramen, which is topped with fresh tiger prawns. Also worth saving space for are their side dishes: yaki cha shu, gyoza, chawan mushi and kakuni, or pork belly stewed in a house sauce.  

Sanpoutei Ramen

Hailing all the way from Niigata in Japan, what sets this ramen shop—with only two branches in Singapore— apart is the broth, of course. Chicken, tonkotsu, two types of dried sardines are simmered for over six hours to create the signature shoyu-based dashi. They also take their noodle-making seriously, doing it fresh and in-house every day, resulting in firm, springy noodles that retain the flavors of the broth without going soft. The classic Niigata shoyu ramen aside, try their Tori X Miso broths, too, made with an in-house special miso. Whatever the broth, you will no doubt order up extras of their delicious aburi cha shu.

Tsuta Ramen

The hot ramen bar opening of the year, Tokyo’s Michelin-starred Japanese Soba Noodles Tsuta now has an outpost, an 18-steater at Pacific Plaza and the first outside of Japan. The secret to its delicious ramen is the attention chef Yuki Onishi pays to the details—most notably he works with a specific soy sauce brewer in Wakamaya Prefecture to create a customized shoyu, mixing it with two others for the legendary broth. You also have the option of a miso broth and a shio broth—the latter has a tantalizing and unusual list of ingredients, including red wine and rosemary.

Takumen

Takumen’s claim to fame in Japan is its online catalogue of over 100 types of ramen, available for delivery nationwide. The Singapore offshoot may not have a similar promise, but what it does have is above and beyond the competition: a rotating list of six ramen types—a variety that rewards repeat visitors and explains the steady stream of CBD office workers you’ll find here. Try bowls like the Bingiri, which is popular among the fishermen of the Chiba coast and is spiked with chilli, and the award-winning shio ramen Hajime, which skips the tonkotsu and involves a light chicken broth.

Uma Uma Ramen

There is more to this unassuming place at The Forum than just the secret entrance to the achingly cool Japanese bar, The Horse’s Mouth. Specializing in Fukuoka-style noodle bowls, Uma Uma Ramen distinguishes itself as a rare place doing light broths and even dry ramen. Highlights include the mazesoba, which sees dry noodle served bathed in a savory shoyu sauce, topped with leeks, spring onion, bamboo shoots and of course their delicious cha shu. Save room for the spicier Tan Tan Men, which has a strong sesame base and is topped with chilli oil, minced pork and egg. Oh, and do head down to the bar afterwards!

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