Today I am invited to a food tasting session by OpenRice to this ramen outlet. It is opened in the newly reopened One Raffles Place, which is quite convenient as it is connected to Raffles Place MRT. It is located just behind Three Cups Coffee Co. Cafe. The restaurant is decorated in dark tones to create a modern fusion of Japanese and Chinese looks. Menu is kept in the drawer of the dining table, which makes the table looks neat. The main menu is in a thick hard-cover notebook form, where customers can give feedback on the blank pages behind.
Ramen Isshi has been consistently ranked as the top ramen in Nakasu, the busiest street in Hakata, Kyushu. And this outlet which I am visiting today is its first outlet in Singapore. There are three kinds of ramen–KURO (Black), SHIRO (White) and AKA (Red).
Shiro (White) Tonkotsu Ramen ($12)
Ramen in the standard soup Tonkotsu base, served with 1/2 half boiled egg, 2 slices of Cha-Shu
It is the basic of the all the ramen dishes. The soup tastes milky and not too salty. Quite a great combination.
Kuro (Black) Tonkotsu Ramen ($13)
Served with 1/2 half boiled egg, 2 slices of Cha-Shu
KURO RAMEN–a fragrant combination made by frying garilc and shallot in sesame oil 4 times to create multiple layers of taste.
I am expecting it to be served in black coloured soup, but it turns out not. The soup is not as flavourful as expected, as the garlic and shallot taste is quite faint.
Aka (Red) Tonkotsu Ramen ($13)
Made with spicy Szechuan pepper, fresh made XO sauce loaded with scallops and seafood stock.
Served with 1/2 half boiled egg, 2 slies of Cha-Shu
It does not taste like ramen. It reminds me of Penang White Curry instant noodle with its spicy soup base and the texture of the noodle. I am expecting somthing along the china’s version of mala mee, but it is not. It is quite milky. One can barely find any scallops or seafood in this dish.
The outlet’s ramen chefs are hail from Japan and have been trained in Hakata-ku in Kyushu, Japan. The noodles are made fresh everyday here in a noodle-making room (The room is made of glass) in the restaurant and so is the soft and succulent chashu. You can check out the the noodle making process daily between 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For $25, you could also have the ramen for takeaway in a stainless steel lunch box and carry it in a designer thermal bag. With the noodle in one container and the soup in another, one can have ramen in Tsukemen style by dipping the ramen in the soup. Remember to wait 10 minutes before it can be eaten as the noodle used for takeaway has a harder texture than the usual served in the restaurant.
Gyoza wrapped in Homemade Skin ($5)
Served with vinegar and rāyu (ラー油 Japanese chilli oil 辣油).
Cooked in a pan-fried and steamed method, the gyoza tastes average and a bit too char on the base.
Besides ramen and goyozas, the place also make their own Chinese baos here in a special glass room in the restaurant and they come in 6 natural flavors : Black Sesame, Plain, Turmeric, Green Tea, Beet Root and Blueberry. Available in assorted flavours for $8 for 4 pieces. The in house made bao is soft and pillowy, as well as, tasty on its own. It is served with a slice of Cha-Shu, shredded spring onion and some hoisin sauce. It would be better if there is more sauce in it too, as one can barely taste it.
Carrot Cake with Saffron ($8)
Round sticky rice cakes lightly flavored with saffron, stuffed with prawn and served with homemade XO sauce.
The rice cake reminds one of mochi with its QQ texture, but the filling of prawn is too little to be take note of. I think it would be better if the XO sauce is stuffed inside and become something like crystal bun.
Tuna Sashimi & Avocado Salad Asian Style ($12)
It is Tuna and Avocado Tartare, served with sesame seed flavoured mayonnaise and mala pepper corn. To eat, wrap the tartare with a bit of sauces and some of the half boiled egg yolk in a seaweed sheet like a temaki. A great combination of the creamy texture of avocado and the juicy tuna, but a bit off with the mala part.
Tofu with Century Egg ($6)
The plain cold tofu is served with sesame soy sauce and century egg on top. I feel that the century egg is too little to make an impression in this dish. Overall feel that there is too much shredded ginger on top which covers other tastes.
Chicken Wings Fritto (with Homemade Shichimi) ($6)
It is actually fried chicken mid joints. Marinated in a special homemade sauce, the mid joint is cut into before half before deep fried. It tastes quite salty as if the chicken mid joint is dipped in soya sauce. The black ball paste is actually shichimi, commonly known as nana-iro tōgarashi or 七味唐辛子, “seven flavor chili pepper”. It is easily found in supermarket in power form. The paste form here is quite unusual.
Almond Jelly with Framboise ($5)
This dessert serves as a palate cleanser after eating the heavy ramen dishes. It has 3 layers : almond pudding, passion fruit and raspberry puree. It tastes a bit more on the sour side.
All the drinks here at Ramen Isshi incorporate the natural approach to mixology that is pioneered at Orgo. To preserve as much of the nutrients as possible, the restaurant uses only fresh cold-pressed juice in all Pure Juices ($4.50) and Total Soy ($3.50) drinks. Total Soy is made with freshly cooked soy beans and left unstrained to retain all the fiber. There is also Soy Smoothie ($4.50) and Juice Smoothie ($5.50) too.
Lemon Yellow ($4.50/ Pure Juice)
Soursop + Pineapple
It is a tangy drink, and there is no separation in the fruit juice as per the normal fruit juice as the juicing process is done by cold-pressed.
Yellow ($3.50/ Total Soy)
Passion Fruit + Mango
The drink is quite thick and fruity in taste, but a bit grainy in texture as there is unfiltered soya bean milk in it.
Here they also served fresh fruit Makgeolli (also known as Korean rice wine) with about 5-6% alcohol content.
Strawberry Makgeolli ($9)
Pineapple Makgeolli ($9)
The drinks taste quite fruity and a bit tart with a slight alcoholic taste.
Overall the food still has hits and misses. The place seems to be suffering from an identity crisis, based on the food and decoration. It is trying to be Japanese (ramen dishes, sesame dressing), Chinese (mala pepper corns in dishes and bao, decoration in a chinese way), Korean (Makgeolli and Shochu), French (Framboise for dessert), Fusion (the Carrot Cake and the Tuna Sashimi with pepper corns) and western modern (salad bar & cold pressed fruit juice and dark modern look decoration) at the same timing which is quite confusing. Maybe it is still new and it takes time to make sure everything works out smoothly.
Address : One Raffles Place,#04-29, Singapore 048616
Tel : 6438 1350
Operating Hours : 11:30 AM to 9:00 PM daily
Website : http://www.isshi.sg/index.html
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/ramenisshi