What do an acclaimed ramen bistro from Hakata and a drum (taiko) entertainment group from Aichi have in common – aside from the fact that they both hail from Japan?
Give up? Well, a ramen bistro in Singapore, of course.
What, you didn’t see that coming? Well, to be honest, neither did I.
But if you are at least a fan of Hakata ramen via Ramen King Shigemi Kawahara (of Ippudo fame), then maybe it doesn’t really matter.
The important thing is that Ippudo Tao – a collaboration between Ippudo Ramen and Tao Entertainment – marks the second Ippudo outlet in Singapore (and only the third bistro outside of Japan).
If you can’t wait, the address is at the bottom of this blog entry.
And, no, I did not forget to inlcude the telephone number.
The soft opening was just yesterday, and according to sources, there are still a few details to sort out.
My best guess is that like Ippudo at Mandarin Gallery, the slightly more casual but no less chic Ippudo Tao will not be taking reservations. Yup, diners will likely have to just make their way down and join the queue like all other curious fans.
For the sake of the less adventurous, or anyone wondering what all the fuss is about, here are some things worth noting:
- The Tao Kuro features thick chewy noodles (that sometimes stick to each other) served in shoyu tonkotsu broth, topped with bara chashu (pork belly), flavoured black fungus, a special blend of miso paste and fragrant garlic oil.
- The Tao Aka features thin curly noodles in tonkotsu soup blended with fish stock and Ippudo’s spicy miso paste. It’s also topped with pork belly chasu and garlic oil.
The dishes are said to represent the “soul” of Japan, celebrating both the spirit of Tao and get this “the coolness” of Japanese culture, said Kawahara.
Seriously? I thought standing sushi bars and cosplay cafes were the in things.
Then again, I doubt that diners will be thinking about any of that with their face buried in their bowls.
The tonkotsu based broth is everything the unctuous pork marrow brew is famous for. Cooking it (in stages) over 18 hours will do that to a good recipe.
It would have been nice to have crushed raw garlic like its first Singapore outlet, but the garlic oil did make up for it.
I’ve not had the chance to sample the menu proper, which also include popular picks such as the Ippudo pork bun, a selection of kushiyaki (savoury tidbits on skewers), bakuretsu tofu (spicy tofu casserole with minced pork and crunchy noodles served in a hot stone pot), a couple of rice dishes too, but a rather sad selection of desserts.
Still, we all know why you’re really in the queue.
Its grand opening is on August 10. But if you can’t wait, or “just happen to be in the vicinity”, you might want to take note of its opening hours till then.
Its also conveniently located close to some of the island’s most frequented watering holes. And that can only mean one thing: Long queues till late. Which could be a good thing, if it can be sustained. Then they might consider extending opening hours till after the pubs close – like the ones hidden along the winding small streets in and around the main shopping/entertainment districts in Tokyo.
July 30-31: 5pm to midnight (last order 11pm)
Aug 1: 5pm to 11pm (last order 10pm)
Aug 2-4: 11am to 3pm
Aug 5: 5pm to midnight (last order 11pm)
Aug 6-7: 5pm to 2am (last order 1am)
August 8: 5pm to 11pm (last order 10pm)
207 River Valley Road
#01-55/56 UE Square (facing Mohamed Sultan Road)
11am to 3pm, 5pm to midnight (Mon-Thurs)
11am to 3pm, 5pm to 2am (Fri & Sat)
11am to 11pm (Sun)
Got all that? Now let me ask you this: Are we taking this whole ramen craze too seriously?
Drop me a note and share your thoughts.