There is a very delicious new ramen shop at Orchid Hotel Tanjong Pagar. No, no, no. I am not talking about Keisuke Tontotsu King. It’s been there, done that. (Read: 5 New & Best Ramen Places in Singapore)
Say Hello to Menya Sanji 麺屋三士, which refers to the ‘three warriors’ of the Meiji restoration, thus the warrior graphics in the shop interior, though not to be confused with a similar sounding Menya Musashi.
Located very closely to the immensely popular Keisuke, this shop facing the main road (near Teppei Japanese Restaurant and next to Two Blur Guys) has obviously less customers, perhaps due to lack of publicity.
Other than Tokyo, Guam and Taiwan, Singapore is the next country that sells Menya Sanji ramen. Its ramen is Kagoshima style – largely unheard of in this region. Kagoshima ramen is considered tonkotsu style ramen, though very different from the long and thin Kyushu Kurume style ramen we are familiar with.
The noodles are medium-thick, not entirely curly like Sapporo’s, and can be considered much closer to the better-known Hakata ramen.
In this small 18-seater shop, the typical choices are the original Sanji Ramen ($11.50), Black Sesame Ramen ($10.50) and Spicy Ramen ($11.00). If you ask me which I enjoy most – this is tough – I happen to like all three types (which is rare). Go for the original Sanji for the more authenic savour.
The broth is overall a lot milkier and opaque than usual, yet not overly greasy or salty. Some other ramen soups though tasty can give a heavy uncomfortable feeling (like Miharu’s) after consumption of the entire bowl. Sanji’s version boiled with pork and chicken remains even-bodied and somewhat taste ‘healthier’
According to Chef Kaiyama, Sanji’s broth is cooked for a full 20 hours (!) in Kagoshima before it is imported back into Singapore. Not sure how the dynamics work, but this does taste like it has been cooked that long.
The main pitfall is the chashu roast pork, looking succulent and mouthwatering, but was in fact a tad too dry and tough for my liking. Also, the tamago could have been runnier.
They also serve Bukkake Ramen ($9.90), somewhat similar to Tsukemen, but the sauce you pour over is cold. With options of sesame, spicy and soy sauce, the goma sesame is the elite choice for tossing in a hot summer weather of Singapore’s.
So is it Keisuke or Sanji? I still think Keisuke ranks as my Top 3 ramen. But on any given day, I would rather give the newer and more atypical Sanji a chance. This is one of the best recent ramen shops that finally serves an unforgettable bowl of comfort.
Menya Sanji 麺屋三士
Orchid Hotel #01-14 1 Tras Link (5 min from Tanjong Pagar MRT) Tel: +65 6604 8891
Opening Hours: 11:30pm – 3:00pm, 5:30pm – 11:00pm Daily
Other Ramen Entries
Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen (Novena Square 2)
Keishoken Ramen (Great World City)
Kitakata Rahmen Tamakichi (Orchard Plaza)
Ramen Keisuke Tori King (Amara Hotel)
Uma Uma Ramen (Forum Galleria)