I am not sure if this is the upcoming trend but the recent hype in Singapore’s ramen scene seems to be slowly shifting away from the thick Kotteri Tonkotsu to the lighter Asari Shoyu or Shio based broth. On a recent visit to try Keisuke Tori King’s yet to be launched menu, I was happy to see the latest Clear-Chicken Soup Ramen (from $13) standing out besides the equally new Tan-Tan Men (from $14.90) and the Tsukemen (from $12.90).
It was revolutionary. Afterall, for a ramen eatery that was founded on the same principle as his sister joint, pork-based Keisuke Tonkotsuo, Keisuke Tori King was created as a non-pork alternative to achieve a thick chicken soup from boiling chicken bones under intense high pressure.
With the year end rainy season setting in, I cannot think of a better thing to do than to sit in and slowly savour a bowl of light yet comforting clear chicken ramen that not only would nourish my body but also warm my soul. The clear chicken soup is made with from a Dashi base comprising kelp and a significant amount of katsuobushi, or shavings of preserved and fermented skipjack tuna.
On the first sip, the chicken soup was as good as any of those double boiled soup 例汤 found in Cantonese restaurants but with an additional layer of flavours coming from the dried fish flakes replacing the likes of sea whelk, dried scallop or dried fish favoured by the Southern Chinese.
On top of that, the generous sprinkle of fried scallions not only brings depth to the soup but also provides an interesting crunch like what the croutons are meant to contribute in the Caesar Salad. With a huge square of nori and well seasoned menma bamboo shoots, it was undoubtedly all the goodness well packed into one, with subtlety.
On the other hand, Keisuke Tori King simply would not be Keisuke Tori King without its signature thick chicken soup, so the other two items, the Tsukemen dipping noodles and Japanese-Sichuanese Tan-Tan Men are specially crafted items. While they are commonly available in Japan, they are less of a sight on our island.
Torn between the Tsukemen and Tan-Tan Men, I chose the latter as I was drawn by the maroon coloured soup laden with chilli oil. What differentiates the Japanese Tan-Tan Men from the Sichuan version is the use of the indigenous Japanese Sansho, which has a floral Yuzu-ish tang instead of the more prominent spicy numbing characteristics coming from Sichuan Huajiao.
I like the minced chicken on the noodles but not the coriander. It would be a little better if finely chopped Japanese negi is used instead. Meanwhile the complimentary self-grounded black & white sesame lends aroma to the stock.
Aside from the toppings, getting the golden ratio of stock, chili oil and peanut oil is key to the making of a good bowl of Tan-Tan Men. While Keisuke San’s version was commendable, I would prefer one that is spicier and with the peanut oil less subdued.
That being said, I am pretty impressed, and have always been by the ever self revamping Takeda Keisuke San, an Italian cook by training and yet a ramen artisan in spirit, and his ever growing ramen Empire which he built from scratch.
I will be back on the official launch on 14 November to try the new Tori King Tsukemen! See you there.
Keisuke Tori King
100 Tras Street, #03-15, 100 AM
Opening Hours: 11.30am-3.00pm, 5.30pm-10pm Daily
Tel: +65 6604 6861