First things first – This meal was not free, and I paid more than $60 for a dinner for two. But I am still going say that this served one of the best ramen in Singapore. Close to perfection.
Ramen fans should be familiar with Ippudo started by Ramen King Shigemi Kawakara, which attracted queues at its branch at Mandarin Gallery. Wavered by the queue, I only been there twice, but both times were excellent tonkotsu ramen experiences.
When I read about a review of the second branch, I promptly dropped everything and appeared at UE Square two hours later bearing high hopes.
This branch had a slight different concept, bearing a stronger traditional black and red feel, called Ippudo Tao due to its collaboration with the Tao drum performance group.
Most of the items were similar, with the exception of Kushiyaki served, and the two Tao signature ramens Kuro (Black) and Aka (Red).
To simplify the difference, one could be called meepok (Kuro) and the other meekia (Aka). The noodles of Tao Kuro ($15) was thick, broad and chewy, swimming in Shoyu Tonkotsu broth topped with pork belly, flavoured black fungus and special blended miso paste (umami dama).
My personal preference was with thinner noodles, but the soup was killer tasty. I finished up to the last few drops, with floating fragrant garlic oil giving a solid boost on its flavours.
I literally thanked God immediately when I slurped on Tao Aka ($15). It had the combination I always wished for – very thin curly noodles similar to Marutama’s and soup with spicy miso paste. I suspect some may find the red spiciness weird or overwhelming, but I felt it was tailored to my taste.
A pity that the tamago (additional $2) was overly cooked. Otherwise, the ramen would have been a perfect ten for me.
The Kushiyaki was ordinary and disappointing though. The Buta Bara Pork Belly ($3.50) lacked in salt and flavours, and the Tsukune Chicken Meat Balls ($3.50) had bones within. (I hope they were bones!) Maybe Ippudo should stick to what they were doing best.
My girl friend was also pleasantly pleased with the toilet which provided cotton buds. The colours and drums made the dining experience very excitable as well. Officially my favourite local ramen shop, for now.
Ippudo Tao, 207 River Valley Road #01-55/56 UE Square Singapore Tel:+65 6887 5315
Opening Hours: Mon–Thu: 11am–3pm, 5pm–11pm, Fri–Sat: 11am–3pm, 5pm–1am, Sun: 11am–10pm