Naomi and I have been to this place, I dunno, four, five times already in the last two months, and considering we don’t go out very often, it probably means we like the food a lot.
Ramen Santouka is a ramen restaurant franchise, with restaurants in Japan, U.S. and Singapore (yay!), and most of the reviews I’ve managed to find so far have been good. Well, that’s sort of an understatement:
One sip of the Shio broth…
That broth is on point. It’s like drinking pork flavored butter. Their shio broth puts me in a place of utter happiness. It’s like growing up in a world without mama whoopings and big brother noogie spree.
– Oishii Eats on Santouka West L.A.
santouka is bomb, the food is fucking good. it’s a bit pricey but it’s worth the indulgence. you gotta get the salt ramen with nato. it might make your breath stink, but it’ll make your tongue happy.
– roe, I., L.A.
That’s L.A.. The more discerning Singaporean palate reacted in somewhat similar fashion:
Oh. My. God.
That taste? For that price? Looks a little thick and rough but once it touches your mouth? OOhhh…it’s soft, chewy not too fatty and the flavours burst right into your mouth while it melts. If their ‘normal’ chasu already tastes this good, I can’t imagine what the choice cheek cuts must be like.
– Aaron Loy about the pork chasu slices in the Singapore branch
Yes, folks, the food is that good.
Then again, this is no ordinary ramen chain (like Ajisen Ramen, whose website title reads ‘Best Ramen in Singapore’, which is like, “it is so not lor!”) where local teenage waiting staff butcher Japanese greeting phrases any old how. It’s ok not to make eye contact when you’re welcoming customers to your restaurant because it’s busy and all that. But the waiting to be seated ritual usually goes like:
WASHSMRMSMMSRRSRSHARE! Table for two?
That’s how they cut you off mid-sentence, because some other customer has walked in behind you and the young waiter is trained to greet all customers promptly and LOUDLY, at the expense of the Japanese language, and of the long term hearing abilities of the customer in front of you. And so it goes on:
OK, this way please. WASHSMRMSMMSRRSRSHARE! What drink you like? WASHSMRMASMRSRHARE! Today’s set is… WASHMARSRMMSRRSHARE! What? You don’t want to eat here anymore? WASHSHHMMMSRSHHSHARE! Why? WASHSHHMMSRWSHARE! We have special promotion.
The local waiters at the Singapore branch of Ramen Santouka also greet customers with a hearty irrasshaimase, but have been trained to do so without being so in your face literally. Most days, there is a stern looking Japanese lady overseeing operations (and the till), so I suppose standards are kept in that regard.
Standards are definitely kept high when it comes to the soup stock for Santouka’s ramen dishes. “Pork flavored butter” is a good description of how hearty a meal is at this place, and as for it being a ‘place of utter happiness’, well, I do think very fondly of ramen these days.
Several times in the past month alone, ramen had been the answer when Naomi asked what I wanted for dinner. And if I had the practice of saying grace before every meal, I’d end my prayer in the name of the father the son and the holy spirit ramen.
Now you know how blasphemously good the soup stock is, you’ll want to know that there are also rice dishes to accompany your bowl of ramen. Char Siu Rice Bowl, Salmon Roe Rice Bowl, Grated Yam Rice Bowl, Fermented Bean Rice Bowl, Fried Rice Bowl & Green Onion Rice Bowl. These can be combined with your favourite ramen soup flavours, Shio (salt), Shoyu (soy), Miso (miso), and Kara Miso (spicy miso), to make set meals costing between $15.50 – $19.50.
If you think a noodle meal is expensive at this price and you don’t want to pay any more for anythink else, there’s a pitcher of cold water on every table, gratis. But trust us, $20 is not a lot for food that will make you renounce atheism.
But the path to ramen nirvana (hey that’s a good name for a restaurant) isn’t easy. Ramen Santouka is tucked away in a corner on the 2nd floor of The Central, Not To Be Confused With Central Mall Not To Be Confused With Central Square Which Are All Within One Kilometre Of Each Other.
And when you finally find the place, you might not get a table because it’s usually very packed at meal times. Try going slightly earlier or later, but it really is worth the wait. And people do queue for a table, which is really amazing because The Central is a mall which could be renamed “The Mall With The Most Japanese Restaurants In Singapore Hey We Even Have Two Azabu Sabo Ice Cream Joints In The Same Building”
The only other drawback of Ramen Santouka is that it’s a cash only business. So prep up the wallet before going.
6 Eu Tong Sen Street
#02-76 The Central