Tsuke-what? For foodies who are familiar with the Japanese ramen dish of noodles sitting in a bowl of hot broth, Tsukemen is another way of eating ramen that may be less common in Singapore. So what’s the difference?
Difference between ramen and tsukemen
Ramen basically is served with everything placed inside a bowl. The noodles, char siew, seaweed, eggs and light flavourful broth are served hot in a big bowl. Tsukemen on the other hand is served with cold noodles with all its ingredients separate from a bowl of piping hot broth. To start, you take a mouthful of noodles and dip it onto the sauce before eating. The broth used in tsukemen is so rich and thick that it is often referred to as a sauce. The main reason for eating it this way is to maintain the noodles’ al dente texture throughout the meal.
Joshoken tsukemen restaurant
Joshoken, Singapore’s newest tsukemen restaurant is now serving this dish on the 4th floor of Bugis+ at Ramen Champion. Joshoken is a brand under Tashiro Koji’s Saikyo Gundan, that cliched the top spot during the 2016 Super Tsukemen Exhibition in Shinjuku.
The signature dish at Joshoken is the Special Kotteri Tsukemen (S$16.80). For those coming here to try out the ramen, make sure you are hungry–the portions here are very generous. This value-for-money tsukemen comes with al dente noodles topped with pork collar chashu, pork belly chashu, menma, nori, spinach, ajitama and fishcake. But the highlight of this dish is the broth. Cooked with a blend of chicken, pork and onion, ginger, garlic, carrot and leek, it takes the chef about 15 hours of boiling over high heat and constant stirring before placing it in the fridge for one full day to bring out the umami flavour.
Digging our chopsticks deep into the bowl, bypassing all the toppings, we finally reach the soba noodles and pulled out a few strands suitable for dipping into the broth. Stirring it into the broth for a few seconds before slurping it quickly and loudly, we liked the firm texture of the thicker than usual soba and how it was evenly coated with the savoury thick broth. For a split second, it felt like we were having Japanese-styled lor mee. It was good but wasn’t outstanding. The main reason we felt was the way it was served. For a broth that is so time consuming to put together, we were disappointed that the broth was not served in a proper hot stone pot, typically used to serve tsukemen to maintain the temperature of the broth. The bowl used here is a ceramic bowl that doesn’t hold the heat very well. By the end of the meal, we were dipping the noodles into lukewarm sauce that discounted the entire experience.
Our favourite dish here is ironically the Maze Soba (S$14.80), a dry noodle dish. This dish reminds us of the Chinese Zha Jiang Mian (炸酱面) due to the thicker noodles and the way you mix all the ingredients together. The Maze Soba is more rounded in flavours and satisfying as it comes with garlic chives, spring onions, seaweed, mentaiko, mayonaise, homemade chilli, minced meat and a poached egg. What’s unique about this dish is also the option to choose the level of spiciness, from normal to 20. We tried the original level on our first visit but we will definitely try out level 10 and above if we were to visit again just to feel the heat. Once you are done with the ramen, you can order a rice with specialty soup set or porridge set (S$1.50) to mix in every bit of the remaining sauce and toppings with.
Joshoken – Ramen Champion Singapore
Address: Bugis+ #04-10, 201 Victoria Street, Singapore 188607
Phone: +65 6238 1011
Opening hours: Mon – Fri: 11:00 – 22:30, Sat, Sun and Public Holidays: 10:30 – 22:30