Sanpoutei Ramen Review
Opening a Japanese ramen establishment here must be extremely lucrative. Seems like they’re all trying to expand into tiny Singapore. When I first saw Sanpoutei Ramen’s new store at Shaw Centre (aka Isetan Orchard), I remember thinking to myself, “oh boy, here comes another one”, and never give it much about them afterward.
Then one day, on my facebook feed, I saw someone saying something on the lines of “Hmm, Sanpoutei Ramen is pretty good”. No pictures, no exclamation marks, just a simple sentence without fanfare. A few days later, I found myself at Shaw Centre again. This time, I thought to myself, “…fine, what the hell”, and took a dive.
So, no, this review isn’t sponsored in any way, shape or form. I know because some money had to leave me. o(T^T)o
Tea. The drink for the soul. The start of many Asian culinary adventures (the cheena/japo-ish ones anyway). Served in a little porcelain pot, the green tea served by Sanpoutei is fragrant and light, though it might be a little too light. Those who favor more robust teas like Oolong or Genmaicha might find this a little too tasteless, while Jasmine lovers may be able to better appreciate its daintiness.
Choices. While the Shoyu (soy sauce) Ramen is their specialty, Sanpoutei also serves Tori-Miso (chicken+miso broth) and Tonkotsu (pork bone broth) based Ramen. You can find other traditionally Japanese appetizers and side dishes in the menu, including salads, fried chicken, a pretty expensive oden and an interesting looking agedashi tofu.
Rice bowls and alcoholic drinks are also available, so fear not drunks and rice buckets.
Appetizer. I’m a big fan of vegetable appetizers like Din Tai Fung’s oriental salad, so I knew I had to try the ‘Bamboo Shoot dressed in Spicy Miso’ when I saw it.
Tossed in spicy miso together with tiny, crunchy strips of leeks, this little bamboo appetizer’s actually quite… appetizing. The miso is lightly spicy, like Japanese curries, and works surprisingly well with the leek’s light oniony taste and crunchy bamboo shoots.
A La Carte. I’ve honestly no idea why I like a soft, bland, mushy thing called tofu, and yet I get annoyed when local establishments get agedashi tofu wrong by using the wrong flour. Thankfully, this isn’t the case with Sanpoutei’s offering.
Cut into small bite-sized pieces instead of the usual large blocks, Sanpoutei Ramen’s agedashi tofu is done right with a fried crispy-chewy skin. What sets their’s apart from the rest is its broth, which is silky and thick with a slight hint of mushrooms. Yummy =)
Shoyu Broth. I was never really a big fan of ‘Shoyu’ ramen, having always preferred the full and robust flavour of tonkotsu broths, hence my love for Santouka and Ippudo Ramen. But, as Sanpoutei Ramen’s specialty is the ‘Shoyu’ broth, I decided to give it a try. Thankfully I did.
Sanpoutei’s ‘Niigata Shoyu’ broth is infused with the flavours of chicken, pork, vegetables and two varieties of dried sardine imported from Japan. The result is a shoyu stock that has surprising depth.
The sardines impart a certain ‘sardiney-fishyness’ to the broth, which some may not like, but to my palette at least, it’s what imparts some of the broth’s depth and ‘savouriness’.
Looks like I’ve found the go-to place for my future Shoyu broth cravings.
Hmm. Also not a fan of chicken broths, but having tasted their Shoyu creation, I look forward to trying Sanpoutei’s chicken-miso ramen next time.
Tonkotsu Broth. My go to broth for ramen. A little reminiscent of Kanshoku‘s Tonkotsu broth, Sanpoutei’s version also tastes light. It has however, the benefit of its signature fish based stock, which means that even though Sanpoutei’s Tonkotsu broth is light, it still has a lot of ‘depth’ to its flavour.
Great if you’re looking for something that’s light, yet full of flavour, and unmistakably pork based.
Sesame Broth (Tan Tan). Now, here’s something a little different.
A new addition to the menu, the ‘Tan Tan’ broth is, according to the blurb, “made by carefully selected Migaki sesame seeds to create a thick and creamy sesame based soup”. Another addition is, “a specially blended pork mince meat sauce topping”.
I have to say, it’s damn good.
The broth is thick and creamy. Its flavour is also a little hard to describe; Think tomatoes (hence the colour?), but take away its sweetness and bring up the ‘umami’ factor, then add a little bit of sesame nuttiness into the background. The meat sauce and the bean sprouts really add to the flavour, giving it surprising depth and complexity. Then there’s also something in the meat sauce that leaves a nice cool aftertaste.
Being sesame based has another advantage here – the finely grounded seeds sticks onto the noodles, making each noodly slurp a very flavourful one.
I got mine with the chashu. As good as the chashu was however, I did find it to be a bit of a distraction, flavour wise. So, no worries if you decide to order the Tan Tan Men without the chashu.
It has become one of my all time favourites. It’s so new that it’s not even on their website’s menu yet, which has me concerned, because I really hope the Tan Tan Men will become a permanent option, and not a ‘seasonal’ thing.
Char Siew. Just to annoy the culture nazis out there. Yes yes, different preparation, ingredients and all that, but still, the names Chashu and Char Siew is technically the same, just pronounced differently in a different but similar languages, no?
Definitely one of the best I’ve ever had. Even with great chopstick skills, gently placing the tender strip of chashu in the spoon for the shot above caused it to crumble…. which is a good sign. Both fat and the flesh are extremely tender for some melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Damn bloody good.
Noodles. Honestly, I’ve not much to say about them. It’s not bad, but it’s not great either. It is a little more springy and silky than though, so I guess that’s a plus.
Conclusion. Tasty appetizers and sides. Fantastic chasu and broth. All at reasonable prices. Definitely a must try if you’ve never had good Shoyu ramen before.
253 Holland Ave #01-01 Singapore 278982
Tel: 6463 7277
Open: 11:30 – 23:00 (last order 22:30)
Shaw House (aka Isetan Orchard)
253 #B1-04/05 350 Orchard Rd.238868
Tel: 6836 4644
Open: 11:30 – 23:00 (last order 22:30)