When our little red dot contains at least 100 outlets dishing up thousands of bowls a day from as low as $5.50, you know it’s serious business. We comb the island to put together this definitive guide of 53 ramen brands for your noodle pursuit.
If you sometimes confuse ramen (????) with lamien (??), you’re not wrong. The name is a ‘Japanisation’ of the Chinese word for pulled noodles.
Singapore’s fling with ramen began around 1997, when Kumamoto’s Ajisen Ramen franchise opened its first restaurant at Bugis Junction. Ramen Ten, a Halal ramen joint followed in 2002. Tampopo at Liang Court opened in 2004; although not a standalone ramen restaurant, it garnered its share of kurobuta (black pig) ramen fans.
The wave of standalone ramen-yas swelled from 2009, with Sapporo Ramen Miharu, Ramen Santouka, Ippudo Singapore, Marutama Ramen and Shin-Sapporo Ramen leading the way. Parco Marina Bay (closed February 2014) housed popular ramen joints Keisuke Tokyo (opened 2010) and Nantsuttei (opened 2012). Ramen Champion opened in Iluma (now Bugis+) in 2011, hastening the popularity of the dish through its popular “arena” style of competing chefs, followed by chain restaurant Menya Musashi and Keisuke’s varied concepts.
Singapore’s ramen culture has evolved from only knowing a singular style (Kumamoto) to embracing various iterations (Tokyo, Hakata, Sapporo); Hakata is now the most popular, with al dente noodles in pork bone soup alongside egg, chashu and leek. We’ve made ramen our own too: young Singaporean chefs Cai Weili and Cai Weisheng of Kyushu-style Brothers Ramen plan to reopen a 50-seater later this year, and Rakusan the Laksa Ramen Bar pop-up by Preparazzi and Eastern Craft Beer deconstructed both noodles by creating tsukemenstyle (cold dip) ramen with a rich prawn and pork broth.
A-Z list of ramen brands
A Noodle Story
Mon-Fri 10am-7.30pm. #01-39 Amoy Street Food Centre, 7 Maxwell Road.
Singapore-style ramen ($5.50) will net you a bowl of thin, springy noodles dry-tossed in oil and topped with wantons, onsen egg, sous vide pork belly and a potato-wrapped prawn. It’s like a bowl of atas wanton mee.
Various locations. www.ajisen.com.sg
Daily 10am-9pm. #201-4 B2 Takashimaya Food Hall, 391 Orchard Road. Tel: 6235 3483
This 45-year-old ramen joint came to Singapore in 2008. Its noodles are distinctively chijire-style, or wavy, which help to absorb broth (a mix of tonkotsu and fish) well. Try Tantanmen ($16/19), a spicy sesame original.
Beppu Dining Restaurant
Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm; Sat-Sun 12pm-10pm. #01-19 China Square Central, 20 Cross Street. Tel: 6438 0328
Bishamon Sapporo Ramen
#01-64/65 Bukit Panjang Plaza, 1 Jelebu Road. Tel: 6462 2001 ” ¢ #01-18 Funan DigitaLife Mall, 109 North Bridge Road. Tel: 6337 5142 ” ¢ #02-32/34 Bedok Point, 799 New Upper Changi Road. Tel: 6445 3392
Mon-Fri 11am-8pm. #01-04 Far East Square, 137 Amoy Street
The eatery’s three local founders love bak kut teh. They serve Hakatastyle ramen paired with Boss Ribs: sous vide, then flame-grilled hunks of tender meat ($13.90).
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #B2-01, 313 Somerset, 313 Orchard Road. Tel: 6636 8335
The Chabuton Tonkotsu Ramen ($8.30/11.90) is rich and creamy to go with white sesame, Japanese leek, chashu and al dente noodles. ’Junior’ portion option is a genius idea.
# B1-47 Paragon Shopping Centre, 290 Orchard Road. Tel: 6737 5416 ” ¢ #B1-13 Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Road. Tel: 6336 7456 ” ¢ #01-05 Riverside Village, 30 Robertson Quay. Tel: 6737 1521
Daily 11am-11pm. #01-13 OG Orchard Point, 160 Orchard Road. Tel: 6737 9713
Hakata Ikkousha Ramen
Mon-Sat 11.30am-10pm; Sun 11.30am-9pm. #01-104, 7 Tanjong Pagar Plaza. Tel: 6538 1880. ” ¢ Mon-Sat 11.30am10pm; Sun 11.30am-9pm. #F107 Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street. Tel: 6338 8460
Meet Singapore’s Ultimate Ramen Champion winner 2011 and 2012. Thin, springy noodles are paired with a delicious pork bone broth simmered carefully over 12 hours. The sauce is a secret blend of three types of soy sauce, 20 kinds of seasoning and five kinds of rare seafood; the hitokuchi gyoza recipe comes right from chef Yoshimura-san’s mum.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Singapore
Daily 11am-10.30pm. #02-76 The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street. Tel: 6224 0668 ” ¢ Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm, 5.30pm12am; Sat 12pm-12am; Sun 12pm-9.30pm. Cuppage Terrace, 21 Cuppage Road. Tel: 6235 1059
Various locations. www.ippudo.com.sg
Sun-Fri 11am-9pm. #01-004 Maxwell Food Centre. Tel: 9671 2721
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #02391/392 Suntec City Mall, 3 Temasek Boulevard. Tel: 6337 7919
Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King
Daily 11.30am-3pm; Mon-Sat 6-10.30pm; Sun 6-10pm. #01-19 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link. Tel: 6636 0855
Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King four Seasons
Daily 11.30am-2.30pm, 5-10.30pm. 158 Rochor Road (Bugis Village). Tel: 6333 5740
Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King matsuri
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #B1-18A Parkway Parade, 80 Marine Parade Road. Tel: 6440 5548
It’s a festival of ramen at this sixth outlet. Yuki Matsuri with powdery cheese represents Hokkaido’s snowy winters; Ramen Nebuta is a fusion of tonkotsu and niboshi (dried baby sardines); while Sanjya features a trio of spicy toppings in black, red and green which signify the shrines in Asakusa. Finally Awaodori pairs pork sukiyaki with a raw egg to pay homage to Tokushima-style ramen.
Ramen Keisuke Tori King
Daily 11.30am-3pm, 5.30-10pm. #03-15 100AM, 100 Tras Street. Tel: 6604 6861
Various locations. marutamaramen.com
Marutama’s toripatan broth is a milky-white chicken-based soup that’s served with Hakata-style ramen noodles. Add a flavourful ajitama (halfboiled seasoned egg), melt-in-your-mouth chashu as well as a generous helping of fried garlic for extra kick.
Men-ichi Japanese Ramen
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #B1-54 Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2. Tel: 6794 5125 ” ¢ Daily 11am-10pm. #B1-79 nex (Shokutsu 10), 23 Serangoon Central. Tel: 6634 4638 ” ¢ Daily 11am-10pm. #01-22/23 Northpoint, 930 Yishun Avenue 2. Tel: 6755 5719
Men Men Don Don
Daily 10am-9.30pm #B2-10 nex, 23 Serangoon Central. Tel: 6634 2104 ” ¢ #02-16 Asia Square Tower 1, 8 Marina View. Tel: 6636 1815 ” ¢ #B1-06 Century Shopping Centre, 2 Tampines Central 5. Tel: 6260 5795 ” ¢ #01-02 West Mall, 1 Bukit Batok Central Link. Tel: 6794 5472 ” ¢ #01-33 WhiteSands, 1 Pasir Ris Central 3. Tel: 6583 4048
Men-Tei Japanese Noodles
Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, 6pm9.30pm. #01-01 Robinson Centre, 61 Robinson Road. Tel: 6438 4140
The ramen recipes in this Japanese-owned CBD lunch hangout are created by chefs from Osaka and Yokohama. Their noodles are freshly made and cooked with machines from Japan–it takes one hour to prepare 15 balls of ramen. The oil that tops each bowl is a fragrant concoction of leek, garlic, dried shrimp and pork oils, while the clear soup in the shio (salt) and shoyu (soy sauce) ramen consists of fish and chicken broth.
Daily 11.30am-9.30pm. #B4-54 ION Orchard, 2 Orchard Turn. Tel: 66348766 ” ¢ Daily 11.30am9pm. #01-01, Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, 12 Marina Boulevard. Tel: 6509 8150
Various locations. www.menyamusashi.com.sg
This samurai-inspired chain restaurant from Tokyo boasts various soup bases: tonkotsu broth that’s creamy white, black with garlic and sesame, or spicy red. There’s also tomato, miso, curry and TokyoUeno style soup which includes chicken or fish in the broth. These are paired with the curly and thicker noodles.
Menya Sanji Singapore
Daily 11.30am-11pm. #01-14 Orchid Hotel, 1 Tras Link. Tel: 6604 8891 ” ¢ #B1-01/10 Clifford Centre, 24 Raffles Place NTUC Foodfare
Try the Kagoshimastyle signature ramen ($11.50), a broth of pork bones simmered with vegetables for a balance of sweetness. To this, they add ramen, chashu, ajitama, menma (bamboo shoots), bean sprouts, kukurage (cloud ear fungus); and garnish with leek.
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #02180 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard. Tel: 6338 0840
Daily 11am-10.30pm. #07-12/13 Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road. Tel: 6337 7166
The iconic Black Ma-yu (black garlic sesame, $12) is a must-order. An aromatic layer of ma-yu (roasted garlic oil that’s fried over seven phases) coats its rich and creamy tonkotsu broth that’s paired with slightly thicker noodles.
Ramen Bar Suzuki
Mon-Thu 11am-3pm, 6-10pm; Fri 11am-3pm, 6-10.30pm; Sat 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm. #01-01, 61 Circular Road ” ¢ Mon-Fri 11.30am-3pm, 6-9pm. 17 Stanley Street
Ramen aficionados swear by the tasty tsukemen dipping ramen here. Also try their jet black (squid ink and garlic), emerald green (basil and cheese) or sakura pink (prawn). A plus point: free-flow hard-boiled eggs, rice, bean sprouts, potato salad or cabbage.
Mon-Thu 11am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9.30pm. #B1-01/02 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Road. Tel: 6887 4484 ” ¢ Mon-Thu 11am10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-10pm, Sun 11am-9.30pm. #B1-08 United Square, 101 Thomson Road. Tel: 6354 3711
If you love thick cuts of aburi chashu, Bari-Uma packs 45g (up from 30g) onto their “super rich” tonkotsu soup with thin and straight strands of handmade noodles.
Daily 11.30am-10.30pm. #04-10 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street. Tel: 6238 1011 ” ¢ Daily 11.30am10.30pm. #01-22 Great World City (GWC), 1 Kim Seng Promenade. Tel: 6235 1295 ” ¢ Daily 10.30am-11pm. #B258 Terminal 3 Singapore Changi Airport (T3), 65 Airport Boulevard. Tel: 6214 2958
Buta God (Bugis+) ” ¢ Butaou (GWC) ” ¢ Hakata Ikkousha (T3) ” ¢ Keishoken (T3) ” ¢ Menban yamagishi Kazuo (Bugis+) ” ¢ Mendokoro Aoi Tonkotsu (Bugis+) ” ¢ Menya Ryu (Bugis+/GWC/T3) ” ¢ Miyamoto (GWC) ” ¢ Riki (Bugis+/T3) ” ¢ Shodai Koji (Bugis+) ” ¢ Tonkotsu Itto (GWC)
The notable new contenders from Ramen Champion include: Sapporo-style Menya Ryu; Shodai Koji which boasts a triple chashu ramen ($16.80) or a healthy green ramen ($13.80, spinach); and Tokyo’s Riki, with thick chewy noodles (think lor mee) with grilled chashu in spicy, garlicky soup.
Daily 11.30am-9pm. #04-29, One Raffles Place. Tel: 6438 1350
Ramen Kagetsu Arashi
Mon-Thu 11.30am-10pm, Fri-Sat 11.30am-11pm, Sun 11.30am10pm #01-41 The Star Vista, 1 Vista Exchange Green. Tel: 6339 0335 ” ¢ #02-09/10 Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central 1. Tel: 6854 0335 ” ¢ #B1-01 The Cathay, 2 Handy Road. Tel: 6736 3055
Mon-Sat 11.30am-3pm, 6-10pm. 7 North Canal Road. Tel: 65330845
This ramen-ya is helmed by chef Ikehata, previously from Marutama Ramen. Try the Sakura Chicken Ramen Rich Super ($16.90) with a hint of sweetness and less grease.
Ramen Ten (Halal)
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #01-22 Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road. Tel: 6238 7983 ” ¢ #02-05 Clementi CityVibe, 3151 Commonwealth Ave West. Tel: 6775 8862
Various locations www.ramenplay.com.sg
Daily 11.30am-11pm. #01-01, 253 Holland Avenue. Tel: 6463 7277 ” ¢ #B1-04/05 Shaw House, 350 Orchard Road. Tel: 6836 4644
Sapporo Ramen Miharu
Thu-Tue 12pm-3pm, 6-9pm. G/F Gallery Hotel, 1 Nanson Road. Tel: 6733 8464
Daily 11am-9pm. #01-31 North Office Tower UE Bizhub East, 6 Changi Business Park Ave 1. Tel: 6702 0130 ” ¢ Daily 10am-10pm. #B1-10/11 Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5. Tel: 6783 6304 ” ¢ Daily 11am-9pm. #02-23 Alexandra Retail Centre, 460 Alexandra Road. Tel: 6276 5708 ” ¢ Daily 11am-10pm. #B204A/05 OrchardGateway, 277 Orchard Road. Tel: 6702 4906
Mon-Sat 11.30am-10.30pm, Sun 11am-10.30pm. #01-23/24 Liang Court Shopping Centre, 177 River Valley Road. Tel: 6338 3186 ” ¢ Daily 11am-10pm. #B2-33, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, 391B Orchard Road. Tel: 6235 2318
The Ramen Stall (Supper)
Mon-Fri 5pm-5.30am; Sat-Sun, PH 12pm-5.30am. 6 Short Street. Tel: 6734 9294
Tonkotsu Kazan Ramen
Mon-Thu 11am-10.30pm, Fri-Sat, eve of PH 11am-3am. #01-10 Liang Court, 177 River Valley Road. Tel: 6397 6636 ” ¢ Mon-Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun, PH 10.30am-10pm. #02-68/69 Novena Square 2, 10 Sinaran Drive. Tel: 6379 6636
They’re named for their kazan (volcano) ramen, in which a funnel-like lid (similar to a tajin) is put over ingredients and soup in a preheated 300?C stone bowl. Look out for the eruption of steam (funka), wait one minute, and it’s ready to eat. Add rice into the leftover soup if you’re still hungry.
Tsukada Nojo Singapore
Daily 11.30am-3pm, 5-10pm #03-81 Plaza Singapura, 68 Orchard Road. Tel: 6336 5003 ” ¢ #02-37 Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Road. Tel: 6444 8840 ” ¢ #03-04 Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive. Tel: 6465 9356
Collagen-rich broth Their bijin nabe, or beauty pot, is chockful of collagen and made from valued Jitokko organic chickens 1,000km south from Tokyo. For lunch, have the soup with ramen, while dinner queues form for the hot pot.
Uma Uma! original Hakata Ramen
Daily 11.30am-10pm. #0141/42/43 Forum The Shopping Mall, 583 Orchard Road. Tel: 6235 0855
Popular Ramen Styles
Pork bones are cooked for many hours till milky with the marrow; noodles are firm, thin, straight and white. Kaedama (additional serving of noodles) is popular with this style. They’re topped with chashu, kikurage, negi (green onions), and tableside there’s crushed garlic, karashi tanaka (spicy pickled mustard greens), benishoga (pickled red ginger), and roasted sesame seeds.
Traditionally, the broth is made from pork bones and chicken stock, Japanese dashi (stock of bonito, a type of fish, or kombu or kelp), shoyu tare (soy sauce), and curly egg noodles.
Miso was initially only used in miso soup. The akamiso (red soybean paste) ramen broth originated in Sapporo and it’s loaded with vegetables: moyashi (bean sprouts), corn and cabbage. Butter is often added for a richer flavour and as a response of the cold weather. Noodles are typically curly to catch flecks of soybean as you slurp.
Chef Kousuke yoshimura (Hakata Ikkousha)–a man with a happy mission
Patience is key: “We took three years to perfect our basic recipe. Before that, we took seven years to maintain authentic Hakata ramen.”
Challenge faced: “Getting the same food materials as Japan. We fly Ikkousha’s flour to our appointed factory here to have them made according to our requirements. Our sauces are all flown over as well. “
How to best enjoy a bowl at Hakata Ikkousha: “When the ramen is served, drink our special soup and then the noodle. After this, try all the seasonings: ginger, sesame, pepper and especially spicy takana.”
On expansion: 10 more outlets in the next few years, mainly in suburban malls. “We also plan to open another Ikkousha brand shop this year.”
Chef Keisuke Takeda (Keisuke)–french-Japanese trained ramen revolutionist
Our ramen landscape: “In 2010, there were very few Japanese ramen places around. Now, Singaporeans are more discerning and the number of people who judge ramen standards has increased.”
On succeeding: “It’s important for me to do what I like, even when it’s different or unusual. Instead of following the trend in Japan when I first started in 2005, I created my own recipes such as using prawn stock like a consommé and bamboo charcoal with seven different kinds of miso stock.”
On manpower: “I firmly believe service is about delighting customers, and you can only do that when you pay attention to their needs and dining experience.”
Wong lip Chin (Jefu)– contemporary artist turned “hawkster”
Learning ramen in Osaka: “I was introduced to my sensei by one of my Japanese (art) collaborators. It was definitely tough, much like scenes from the movie The Ramen Girl .”
The art of cooking: “It’s my medium of expression. I’m very interested in the ’relational aesthetic’ concept, which focuses on creating unscripted encounters through art.“
Difficulties: “Ramen is relatively expensive compared to most hawker food. Our ramen are served at its best via means of efficient preparation, and prices are kept attractive for the hawker demographic.”
Nick yen (Ramen Isshi)– architect and food mastermind
On the Japanese pursuit for perfection: “The Japanese have a penchant for breaking down an art into a science and then applying the science to create art. ”
The taste challenge: “It is expected that the pork tastes different. Even items that are used in the soup like shallots, garlic, scallions all taste slightly different from those in Japan. Though subtle, the differences are still perceptible. That’s why even famous places here taste different from the ones in Japan.”
Too much ramen in Singapore: “Far too many taste and even look the same. It is hard even telling some of the names apart.” Survival tactics: quality, product differentiation (like Keisuke and Ramen Isshi), being part of a larger corporate entity.
About Ramen Isshi: “Ramen Isshi is all about ’Asia’. It embraces soy, sake, shochu and makgeolli (Korean rice wine) with a food menu that is Japanese and Chinese.”
The craziest idea: Take-out ramen. “If I were in Japan, I would probably be dragged through the streets to appease the ramen gods, but because we are at Raffles Place I thought the idea made a lot of sense. Everyone loves a good bento or lunchbox! Through months of trial and error, our noodle machine allowed us to tweak the recipe for the noodles to stay harder longer when packed into special stainless steel lunch boxes.”