22. Uma Uma Ramen うま馬ラーメン

うま馬ラーメンはうまっ! (Uma uma ramen wa uma!)

Okay I’m sorry for the oyaji gag. Couldn’t resist.

Anyway Gwen and I headed down to try Uma Uma Ramen at Forum the shopping mall today, because her friend said it was better than Menya, and Menya is my current favourite ramen in Singapore. And… we didn’t choose the original ramen but kind of shared the Tonkotsu Ramen ($14++) and Mazesoba ($14++) between the both of us.

2013-04-05 14.24.34Gweena♥ With mazesoba in front of her and ramen in front of me.

2013-04-05 23.19.08Can we eat yet? D:

Ok so we spent like 5 whole minutes trying to take the perfect ramen photo and the cooks and waiters were kind of really amused at us. ^^ When I talked to one of them after the meal he even asked me “写真取りました?” (Did you manage to take your photo?)

Moving on to the ramen review! Well, to be honest I still prefered Menya Musashi’s ramen, but I think that’s because it’s a very different style of ramen altogether? The Tonkotsu ramen had thin noodles, and the broth was light. For Menya’s ramen, one sip of the broth would send me into bliss, but I can never finish eating the bowl of ramen because it’s too 腻(ni). For Uma Uma’s Tonkotsu ramen I could have finished the whole bowl (but I had a very heavy breakfast so I didn’t >_<). You can tell that the broth had a lot of effort in it if you don’t stop at the first sip. Also, the Mazesoba was really interesting. The soba noodles reminded me of the Chinese yellow noodles somehow, but the overall texture (with the poached egg omg♥) matched really well together.

What I like about Uma Uma’s ramen is that the flavour of the both dishes were more subtle. As you continue with each bite the flavour grows on you. Which was why when I suddenly switched from the soba to the ramen and back to the soba the taste somehow changed. I wouldn’t recommend you to share if you ever go there but just concentrate on your own bowl and let the flavour set in. I can also see why Singaporeans might not like this kind of Hakata style ramen as compared to the thicker and stronger flavours of Menya Musashi and Marutama. It all boils down to preference. If you prefer a lighter broth you should definitely try Uma Uma ramen. I’m planning to head back soon to try the signature dish because I liked the atmosphere of the restaurant! They were all very friendly people :3

09. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Went to watch the documentary movie Jiro Dreams of Sushi today! It’s been a while since I watched a Japanese movie in Singapore theatres, so was looking forward to it. I heard about the restaurant from Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations around 2 years ago, and it’s one of my lifelong dreams to have a meal there. The price isn’t cheap though, from what i’ve heard it’s around 30,000 yen which is around 480 SGD? But Jiro is already 85 years old. D: I wonder how much longer he’s going to be in the kitchen. One thing I know for sure from watching the documentary is that until his body gives up on him, he will continue to make sushi, and continue to strive for perfection.

The kind of passion and self-discipline you see in Jiro is rarely seen these days. Most people give up too quickly; they don’t even bother to endure before complaining that’s it’s too difficult or it’s just not for them. Maybe it is just not for them, but if they don’t try they wouldn’t even know would they? We like to go by the safe route, the easy, high-paying job versus years of hard work slaving to constantly improve yourself. Jiro has been doing exactly that for close to 70 years, and he still thinks that he has not reached perfection because to him, he can’t possibly know what the level of perfection is. ほんまに偉いなー。 I wonder if I’d ever be able to find my craft like him.

On a somewhat completely unrelated note, they showed the trailer for Hotaru no Hikari the movie!!! Hotaru no Hikari is a Japanese drama that spanned 2 seasons, and it’s one of the funniest dramas I’ve ever watched. I’ve rewatched it once recently and it’s still as good. Can’t wait for the movie to come out~♥

We ended up eating Menya Musashi ramen after the movie! Well we were craving for Japanese food but the shop at Plaza Sing doesn’t really serve good Japanese sushi so we settled on ramen. Mhmmm it was a fufilling lunch. Ate exactly the same thing as I did the first time! Black char shuu ramen 黒チャーシューラーメン~! I’ve tried Ippudo and Marutama ramen but I still like Menya Musashi best! As of now that is. x)

06. Marutama Ramen まる玉らーめん

Just a short post this time! Well, I went to Marutama Ramen at Central a few days back because I had this ramen craving and my friend recommended this shop because it was in the area. So we both went to fufill my ramen needs :3

I ordered the Marutama Ramen, which is a toripaitan (鶏白湯) ramen. It uses chicken broth with Hakata-style noodles. There were others choices on the menu such as Tan men and aka ramen but since it was my first visit I decided on the ramen that was named after the shop. Or is it the other way round..?

Anyway, you could add extra toppings to your ramen! Such as extra kakuni(角煮), cha shu(チャーシュー), aosa(アオサ), ajitsuke tamago(味付け卵) and even kaedama(替え玉), which means a ramen refill. I got mine with the soft boiled egg, because I love soft boil eggs in ramen. I think ramen has made me grown to love soft boil eggs because previous I really hated them. Perhaps it’s because in Singapore, egg yolk has this really strong taste but in Japan I have never experienced that before. Something to do with the freshness of the egg? I’m not too sure.

Marutama Ramen with ajitsuke tamago (まる玉らーめんと味付けたまご)
$12++, $1.50++

Verdict: The ramen broth was not bad, albeit being a bit too light for my taste. The char siew was a little saltier than expected, but I loved the negi and the aosa. The noodles were typical Hakata-style, yellow thin noodles that were firm. And the egg was absolutely gorgeous ♥. Maybe it’s just my newfound love for soft boil eggs. But this egg wasn’t just a typical throw-in-the-pot kind of soft boil eggs, I think they might have been marinated afterwards, which explains the slight saltiness that came along with each bite of the egg.

My friend said that the standard that day dropped from that when she first tried Marutama though, so maybe it was just an unfortunate day for us. On that day, the cooks happened to be Chinese and Indian and the service staff was Japanese. O: Kind of gyaku (逆) from what I expected it to be (Gyaku means the opposite or reverse!)

In conclusion, I would say it’s worth a try, but I personally don’t think it’s worth the price. The good thing is that they have quite a few outlets in Singapore, like Liang Court, United Square and Suntec, so it is rather convenient. Maybe I’ll pop by again to see if that was just an off day for them, but with so many other ramen places in Singapore, it may take a while. ^_^

05. Flor Pâtisserie

I recently went down to one of my favourite cake shops, Flor Pâtisserie! I used to go there quite frequently before I left for Japan, but this was the first time I visited Flor after I came back. And the cakes are still as good as ever~ ♥

Helmed by Chef Yamashita, Flor specialises in French pastries with a Japanese twist. The shop at Duxton hill is also a cafe, where there are a few tables for you to sit and enjoy your cakes with tea. Apparently they have a branch at Takashimaya as well, but I’ve never been there. I really like the ambience of Flor as it gives a very fresh and sunny feeling, which compliment their colourful and awesome creations splendidly. Besides cakes, they also sell other baked goods like cookies and madeleines.

Baked goods on display~

When I popped by this time, I was a little disappointed that one of my favourite cakes that I was craving for wasn’t available, which was the Wakakusayama (若草山). I really miss good green tea cakes, and the combination of matcha and red bean and nama cream (生クリーム) can never go wrong! As a result, I settled for another of my favourites, the Waguri Millefeuille (和栗ミルフィーユ) and decided to try the ice cheese tart and the Fromage Blanc (フロマージュ ブラン), both of which I have never tried before.

Cute takeaway box!

Waguri Millefeuille (和栗ミルフィーユ) $6.80

Waguri Millefeuille is made from chestnut cream atop two slices of Mille-feuille sandwiching pastry cream.” It’s heaven in a cake! I love the taste of chestnut cream and the cream cake in the middle goes very well with the crispy pastry. The sweetened chestnuts on top complete the product. The only thing is, eating this with a fork might be a little bit difficult as the pastry is hard compared to the soft cream in the middle, resulting in the cream oozing out in different directions. So my recommended way of eating is to just use your hands and give it a big bite! You won’t regret it (;

Fromage Blanc (フロマージュ ブラン) $6.50

Fromage Blanc is a cheese mousse cake with blueberry cream atop a citrus almond tart base. Japanese people like to use the term rare cheese (レアチーズ), which basically refers to a cream cheese mixture or mousse that is not baked. If I’m not wrong, Lipton in Kyoto sells “Bake and no bake cheesecake”, which essentially means that part of the cheesecake has been baked, while the other bit is レアチーズ.

The tart base for this cake was really good, but somehow I found the cheese mousse, or the レアチーズ a little lacking. Perhaps it was too spongy for my liking. I prefer my レアチーズ creamier and heavier. Overall not a bad cake, but I would definitely choose others like Mango Pie (マンゴーパイ) and Strawberry Soufflé (苺スフレ) over this.

Ice cheese tart (アイスチーズタルト) $3.20

Basically, a cheese tart. I tried the original flavour and I quite liked it. The tart base was in my opinion a better pairing with the cream cheese than the biscuity cheesecake base most cheesecakes have, but it didn’t particularly strike me as strongly as Flor’s other cakes did. Perhaps I should try the other flavours next time. I didn’t notice they had Green tea yuzu! Will definitely go for that flavour next.

All in all, definitely a place to check out! The only possible hindrance would be the location, as it is quite a trek from the nearest MRT station (Tanjong Pagar). But I would definitely revisit Flor in the near future just to savour my favourite cakes. ♥ Other than Flor, the other Japanese pastry shop I like is k.ki at Ann Siang Hill! k.ki is slightly pricer though, but their creations are good too. Well, will leave k.ki for another day when my cake buddy comes back to Singapore, but til then~

04. Menya Musashi 麺屋武蔵

Continuing my (somewhat spontaneous and self-declared) Japanese Food Hunt, I visited Menya Musashi (麺屋武蔵) on tuesday! While I do like ramen, I normally don’t eat ramen in Singapore. Moreover, whenever I do eat ramen, I end up getting so full that my meal usually accounts for lunch and dinner, which is what happened this time round as well.

Menya Musashi is a recently opened establishment in Singapore, and apparently they are really famous in Japan! Not that I’ve tried from the Menya Musashi in Tokyo though. The interior decor is impressive! I felt like I was transported back into Japan again. The only think I thought was missing was the lack of counter seats (カウンター席), which in my opinion is the best way to sit when enjoying ramen. I have yet to come across a Ramenya with counter seats in Singapore. Or maybe it’s just that I haven’t been to many yet.

Considering that tuesday was a public holiday, there was quite a queue when we reached. While waiting for latecomers, the queue just grew longer and longer. As we were quite a big group of 14, it took us a while to finally get seated and have our meal. The menu was pretty simple, you could choose between ramen or tsukemen, a type of broth (red, black and white), and finally the type of meat you want on your ramen, the normal Japanese cha shu or kakuni (角煮) . They were currently having a promotion where you could order up to 5 times the amount of tsukemen for free! But it must be finished by one person and cannot be shared. So those of you who have big appetites should head there to check it out!

I ordered a Black Cha Shu ramen (黒チャーシューラーメン) because the waiter said that the black one had garlic in it and I’m a sucker for garlic. The red one is just the white broth but a spicier version. Most of us ordered the one with the black broth though, maybe because we rarely see ramen with black broth and it did indeed look yummy!

I really loved the saltiness of the broth. Was a little disappointed that the egg wasn’t as soft-boiled as how ramen eggs usually are, but overall it was really good. The broth is rather thick and a little oily though, so after a while you might get a little 腻 of it. The greens were an odd touch in my opinion, as it didn’t really go with the broth, but seemed to have been added to give you the illusion that you’re eating healthy (while eating ramen whoo!) The cha siew was nice, and the raw onion toppings complemented the ramen well, as it usually does. Overall, worth a try if you like your ramen with a thick broth!

My friends however, said that Nantsuttei Ramen at Millenia Walk was better though. I haven’t tried the ramen there yet, so maybe I will go one day! Or next week, or maybe tomorrow… Also, coming from friends who ate the tsukemen, it was strange that the shop chose to serve the tsukemen broth in a normal bowl rather than a stone one. If you’ve eaten tsukemen in Japan before, you will notice that they will put the broth in a stone bowl in order to prevent it from turning cold (which it does fairly easily in a normal bowl) so that you can enjoy piping hot broth everytime you dip your noodles in. Menya Musashi were kind enough to change the cooled broth was asked though, but I find it a bit of a waste. Perhaps they should just use stone bowls the next time!

That said, I do think that it’s worth at least a trip down. The price is around $15-20, depending on what you ordered, and the location is very convenient too, just a minute’s walk from City Hall MRT. But for me, I’ll continue trying out the other ramen (and Japanese food) places around Singapore~v(^_^v)♪ Will talk about Tsukune Ichigo and Yakitori Enmaru the next time!