Friday, July 3, 2009

Yoshimaru Ramen Bar

It was early autumn of 2003 when my colleague brought me to a ramen shop in Osaka. He told me that the shop was part of a famous chain which originated from Hakata, Fukuoka. The high influx of patrons was overwhelming and it took us about 15 minutes to secure a few adjacent seats at the large, lacquered communal table which looked rather synthetic. If it was made of timber, the tree must have been really old, judging from the number of annual rings accumulated on the truncated surface. On it were sets of condiments to go with the ramen like pickled ginger and sesame seeds.

Definitely love at first taste, that bowl of tonkotsu ramen. The milky white broth, which was boiled for hours (causing the pork bones, fat and collagen to literally melt), was rich and wonderfully flavoursome. Garnished with simple yet aromatic ingredients like scallion and sesame seeds/oil, it was completeness at its best. For a little contrast, takana or pickled mustard greens was added. Some fat cuts of char siew complemented the rich broth really well.

Since then, I have not found a credible competition. Miharu at Gallery Hotel was a local favourite of mine as the soup was dense and had a really nice fried garlic flavour. But that itself was a miso-tonkotsu hybrid, not the authentic Hakata version. The rest were simply exaggerated with a high level of salt and/or MSG.

Yoshimaru is not the name of that memorable ramen shop in Osaka but apparently, another famous ramen chain from Japan. We’ve been showered with imported ramen chains in this part of the world recently. And that’s good news, of course.

The word bar itself suggests a more contemporary approach towards ramen appreciation but to the hardcore ramen fans, the only thing that matters is the taste. So, bring on the signature dish already!

I had the Moridakusan Ramen which was basically topped with almost every ingredient that Yoshimaru offers, including soft boiled egg, cloud ear mushroom or kikurage, mentaiko, takana, nori sheets and char siew. The broth was tad mild in taste but very satisfying, nevertheless. Oh, and not much MSG too. I would have called this Kiasu Ramen instead because there were just too many toppings and some I deemed, were rather unnecessary. The mentaiko, for example. Its fresh, briny taste didn't help in accentuating the overall taste of the broth. In fact, the lump of red eggs got tragically drowned in it instead. And I never found nori sheets any helpful in a bowl of ramen, to be honest. The ramen was cooked just right and rather smooth, so that was good.

While the genial Mentaiko Mayo Prawn Burger was delicious despite the smaller-than-my-fist size, I thought the gyoza could do better with a more generous filling and seasoning. Back to the burger, now this is how mentaiko should be applied. Slightly salty, the cream-dressed roes went really well with the crispy batter and greens.

Check out the menu and be fascinated by the attractive presentation and variety of ramen and mini burgers. That itself will guarantee a subsequent visit. Let's not forget the tonkotsu ramen (sans all the irrelevant toppings) as well because it's simply good and that's rare in this part of town, I think.

As we slurped the ramen loudly in that tiny ramen shop in Osaka, I was told that besides Hakata and its infamous tonkotsu ramen, the Fukuoka prefecture is also famous for its musical talents. Like Ayumi Hamasaki. That got us going on and on about J-Pop and personal favourites. After finishing the last drop of that orgasmic potion, we helped ourselves to another pint of Asahi before calling it a night.

I've lost contact with that colleague of mine since I changed my job. And most unfortunately, I've also lost the name of that ramen shop that perhaps will always remain as my favourite tonkotsu ramen of all time. One of the biggest mistakes I've ever made in my life, for sure!

Yoshimaru Ramen Bar
31 Lorong Liput
Holland Village
Singapore 277742
Tel: (+65) 6463 3132

Check out other reviews on Yoshimaru:
Liquid Shadow
Southernoise Gluttony
The Travelling HungryBoy


backStreetGluttons said...

We can , we think , reboot and regain that greatest mistake you have ever made in your present lifetime , of the lost name for just a small token fee. But which will come with a high cost of getting Air Asia ( Japan ) to redirect. Are you agreeable ?

mimid3vils said...

Hmm...Mentaiko Mayo Prawn~~that's the special ingredients that I never heard b4 for a burger :P

Camemberu said...

Wow I love the first shot! So classy and artistic the bowls! There's now a Yoshimaru near me (The Playground at East Coast), thank goodness! I'm gonna try it this weekend!

550ml jar of faith said...

Reading your post is like Tampopo all over again!! The first and only thing I can think about now is slurping some ramen (and licking the soup bowl clean!). As far as I know, there still isn't a definitive ramen outlet in KL... now what!?

sc said...

less ramen chains here in M'sia. and handful perhaps? so sad:(

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

ohh my god..that ramen looks freaking awesome!! with that egg yolk and char need for anything else..

CUMI & CIKI said...

how did u get the bowls to do that? huh? huh? hehe
as usual, u make my fotos of noodles look like something the cat dragged in.. eeyer.. not fair! :P

eh, wake up hairy. uv been TAGGED by TNG. Pls go see her blog:D

hahahaha ... hva gr8 wkd!

PureGlutton said...

Sigh - please someone tell me - where can get ramen like that WITH CHA SIEW here in KL???
Torturous la - looking at all your yummy pics and knowing these are soooo elusive here! *pout*

Selba said...

Look at those egg yolks, so beautiful orange! :)

Bangsar-bAbE said...

"Kiasu Ramen"?? LOL!

Kiasu or not, it looks real yummy to me! =P

Alexander said...

Beautifully good looking and great to eat. You can't be wrong with this. Good review.

Have a nice weekend.

Alex's World! -

ladyironchef said...

the one at holland v! i passed by it before, looks small-ish. I am not a big fan of Jap food leh, can never tell what is a good ramen like! haha

Sugar Bean said...

Yeah, Ayumi is from Fukuoka prefecture, am I'm a big fan of hers! Wahahaha! Kiasu ramen sounds funny, but more ingredients is better than less ho? Haha, I'm the kiasu one I guess.

Nice one, hope they have it in Malaysia.

thenomadGourmand said...

I want tht burger!!!

HEhe..sorry la Hairy..Ramen does nothing for me..but then maybe..maybe if u bring me here i might be a convert??

@ciki - he knows he's been tagged! Prob hoping tht if he keep quiet it wil be forgotten?? LOL!

UnkaLeong said...

The ramen itself..Looks excellent. Looks like it will go down well with me ;)

Xiu Long Bao said...

I dun mind going back when the circle line is up.

This post reminds me of the cashier's name :p

babe_kl said...

i wonder how they make their hard boiled eggs wid translucent yolks?? it's so addictive!

fatboybakes said...

guffaw, i read the genital mentaiko mayo prawn burger.... i need to get my eyes checked.

Nic (KHKL) said...

backstreetgluttons, omg, i agree. cant wait for air asia to fly to japan! think about spending zero air fare to enjoy 4 different seasons! woohoo!

mimi, yupe, salty,sweet and rich. definitely nice. :D

camemberu, thanks! :D ooh, looks like jumbo is going all out to conquer the ramen market! will be waiting for your review!

550ml jar of faith, which reminds me to go watch tampopo. havent watched the movie before! you are right, i've not found a definitive ramen outlet in kl just yet. i guess we are happy with our soup noodles, which i am proud to say, as good (if not better) than ramen! :D

sc, yeah, actually i've been asking myself the same thing. i cant even name a ramen shop in kl! i think there's one at solaris which i havent tried before. must go check d...

joe, for me, the soup itself is good enough! hey, do check this place out the next time you visit singapore! i'm sure you'll like it.

cumi & ciki, the bowls were stuck to the wall. i just took it from a different angle. :D aiyoh, yr pictures are gorgeous la. where got pussy dragged all?? haha, posted on the tag d...glad to have met u over the weekend, albeit the short duration.

pureglutton, yeah, i'm looking for that in kl too!!! hehe, do drop by singapore over the weekend la. a short getaway for all things good like ramen! come! :D

selba, the runny yolks were rich and smooth. slightly overdone but then again, it's very difficult to get the perfect yolk. so, this was good enough for me. :D

Nic (KHKL) said...

bangsar-babe, really kiasu ramen, i tell you. they bombed the bowl with everything! haha! there are other stuff like spicy ramen and some gorn low (dry) ones as well. i need to revisit! :D

alexander, yeah, i thought they were well presented too. am planning for a revisit soon..hehe...thanks for the compliment, dude!

ladyironchef, yupe, the front looks small but the interior is quite spacious. got j-pop music as well. hehe...i think like every other soup noodle, the broth is very important. i love tonkotsu!

sugar bean, u like ayumi? cool! i prefer utada hikaru. ok lar, that's cos i think she's prettier..hehe..yeah, i guess kiasu ramen is worth the money cos there were lotsa ingredients in it. yeah, i hope so too!

thenomadgourmand, ramen, burger, everything oso i'll sapu..haha! yeah, come over la, we go makan! go bug unka..haha! yeah, i tot i'll be safe if i keep quiet. mana tau liddat oso kena..haha! done d! :D

unkaleong, yeah, and to pair that with a good draft beer. woah, shiok! we go there next time u visit singapore, ya!

xiu long bao, omg, really? cool! then again hor, with the circle line, can go eat other things old airport road. u still remember the name? remind me this thursday...

babe_kl, agree agree! i think it's very difficult to have the yolk runny while the white is so well cooked. the taste like u mentioned, is addictive!

fatboybakes, hehehehe, i had the same thought too, as i wrote that line. quite interesting if it's really genital mentaiko cos din know roes got private parts one...i thought they are usually transparent..hehehe...

Simon Seow said...

Sigh. Why KL don't have this kind of ramen. I like the looks of the egg.

Nic (KHKL) said...

simon, check it out when you are in singapore! :D