Ramen King 2011 Keisuke Takeda’s latest creations: wasabi and sansho peppercorn flavored ramen, complemented by some poultry perfection.
By Yong Yung Shin
In the hands of Keisuke Takeda, ramen becomes more than just a good ol’ bowl of comfort food; as his signature prawn and crab broth ramen has shown, it is more often than not a surprise. His third outlet, the new Ramen Keisuke Tori King at Tanjong Pagar, is no different.
Exclusive to this outlet are the French-trained Japanese chef’s latest creations, the Green Spicy Tori King Ramen and the Black Spicy Tori King Ramen (from S$12.90).
The Black Spicy Tori King Ramen is about the furthest thing from clear and light. It is heady and aromatic, with dashes of sansho pepper. Being the Japanese equivalent of Szechuan peppercorns, each slurp is followed by a tingling aftertaste, a sensation foreign to the activity of eating ramen, but wholly enjoyable for fans who like a jolt to the tastebuds every now and then.
The Green Spicy ramen boasts the same thick, richer-than-the-usual broth base courtesy of eight hours of boiling chicken bones and feet, Japanese seaweed and vegetables, but while the Black Spicy ramen is more in-your-face with its spiciness, its green counterpart is more subtle, gently persuading the palate to take to its piquant wasabi flavor with each rewarding slurp. It definitely isn’t as intimidating or overwhelming as it sounds—proof of Takeda’s skill in balancing innovation with the basics.
Another highlight at Tori King is the accompanying piece of chicken, made from a careful process of boiling, overnight marinating and grilling; the result is something refreshingly different from the crispy fried chicken pieces Singaporean ramen lovers are accustomed to—soft and flavorsome, tender enough to tear off with a fork. A special chilli paste is provided, further wowing chilli lovers.
As with other outlets, this one comes with free-flow, complimentary hard-boiled eggs and spicy beansprouts, as well as a cute suribashi (ceramic grinding bowl with grooves) for grinding your roasted sesame seeds to sprinkle into the ramen. The walls are plastered with pages out of old manga comic books and magazine covers, evoking an old world, nostalgic ambience very different from that in the newly refurbished Amara Mall.
After the flurry of lunch hour customers had waned, we managed to sit Takeda down for a quick chat. Speaking through an interpreter, he explained that each outlet has a different menu in order to maintain consistency and quality. He attributes his innovativeness in his craft to the 12 years spent under the tutelage of French chefs before deciding to go back to his roots in Japanese food. Some things could have been lost in translation, but his passion for his craft was obvious, as he recalled the trial-and-error process of creating his now-famous Ebi Soba (prawn ramen) but without the overpowering fishy taste the original recipe had, among others (the secret lie in frying and roasting the prawn shells and bits before boiling it). Asked what the flavor of his last bowl of ramen would be, he replied simply, miso ramen … after all, it was his love for miso ramen that prompted him to embark on a career built around this quintessential Japanese dish.
Ramen Keisuke Tori King
100 Tras Street 100AM,
#03-15 Amara Hotel
+65 6604 6861