For a while during the Japanese ramen food fad, there was at least a ramen joint opened every month. I was wondering how our little island could accommodate so many ramen eateries when it's not even our traditional food. Add in the local fickle tastebuds, and the economics of it all will sift out the weaker counterparts to their more competitive ones.
This was Cho's recommendation, a tiny little enclave located at Robertson Quay, in the style of a Japanese izakaya that wouldn't look out of place in Japan itself. Apparently, the owner used to head up an MNC who quit the corporate race to pursue his passion instead. I guess some people do choose happiness over money huh.
Menya Shinchan is one of the earliest purveyors of ramen, having piled its trade since 2006. I suppose if the business can last this long, their food must be pretty good huh? Despite its illustrious history, I wasn't too impressed. The soup base was generally too salty and oily, and the bamboo shoots were awful.
The Tonkotsu Mayu ($13) has a soya sauce pork bone soup base, Madam Shinjiro style, which means half portion of noodles, with added chashu, menma (bamboo shoots), flavoured egg, corn. Noodles are handmade, thick and soft but with a little bite. The soup was too salty and oily, and the bamboo shoots had a very alkaline artificial taste about it that I didn't like. Otherwise, the soy flavoured egg was perfectly soft but not runny, braised pork was tender and tasty, and corn was fresh, crunchy and sweet. I also really liked the generous supply of sauteed cabbage added to the noodles, an unusual touch.
The Tonkotsu Mayu ($13), collagen-rich pork bone base with soya sauce, scorched sesame and garlic oil, looked ominous but was really uniquely nice. The scorched sesame and garlic oil lent a roasted charred accent to the dish, adding a layer of toasted dimension to the dish. Still, this was a tad too oily and salty. This was the half vegetable, half noodle, version with added seaweed, flavoured egg and chashu.
The Tonkotsu Mayu ($13) sans spring onions version. A special mention has to be given to the particularly clear and clean texture of the crunchy beansprouts, which helped to cut through the grease and salt.
The Miso Tonkotsu ($14) using miso to season the pork bone soup base, with added corn, chashu and flavoured egg.
The Yaki Gyoza ($6), pan-fried pork dumplings were also dripping in oil. Otherwise, this was fairly alright. Good but not spectacular or particularly memorable.
Update 29 Feb 2012: The restaurant is now closed
Menya Shinchan Japanese Noodle Restaurant
30 Robertson Quay #01-05
Tel: 6732 0114
Open weekdays from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch, and from 6.30pm to 10pm for dinner
Weekends from 6pm to 10pm