From Tonkotsu King to Marutama, Singapore is pampered with a seemingly endless variety of ramen. IPPUDO is one of the first chains to arrive on the island with its quality pork bone broth, and has survived the onslaught of new stores jumping on the bandwagon. Till today, its store at Mandarin Gallery remains popular, with their new fast food concept, IPPUDO Express, serving hungry travelers at Changi Airport. 2017 marks another milestone for the ramen chain, as they greet the new year with a new branch and another fast food concept, KURO-OBI at Marina Bay Sands. And, what makes KURO-OBI such a stand-out? It is serving pipping hot bowls of Tori-Paitan (100% Chicken Broth) ramen, to-go.
IPPUDO first opened for business in Hakata, Japan, 1985, and gained popularity with its Hakata-styled noodles in a rich pork bone broth (tonkotsu). It is not uncommon to walk pass its restaurant doors and hear enthusiastic slurps of its noodles while in Japan. But, it is not one to rest on its laurels, as it furthered its brand presence worldwide with a grand opening of a, then, new concept at Midtown, New York. Just like its name, which translates into “first wind”, it wants to bring a new wave of satisfaction through every slurp. And, ta-dah, the first KURO-OBI opened its doors, serving New Yorkers and tourists alike with its take-away bowls of equally rich chicken broth ramen in thick, chewy Yokohama-styled noodles.
Marina Bay Sands is second to see the opening of KURO-OBI. We finally get to savour their smooth, creamy chicken broth, served up four ways; Original KURO-OBI with egg and chicken chashu (S$12), AKA-OBI (S$10), CHA-OBI (S$9) and SHIRO-OBI (KURO-OBI without toppings) (S$8).
Don’t be misled by the paper bowls. They are just as delicious as anything that comes out of IPPUDO’s kitchen.
The best way to savour the velvety smooth chicken broth to go for the KURO-OBI. Here you get the quintessential gooey egg, with something a little more interesting, chicken charshu. A good move, for the lighter taste of the meat matched the broth. The alternative toppings of freshly chopped onions and greens also work well to cut through the collagen-rich broth. An interesting bowl I would not mind having another serving of is the AKA-OBI. The addition of a spiced shrimp paste adds another dimension to the soup when mixed in. It is not a spicy dish despite the bright red colour it imparts into the soup, but, rather, a burst of savoury to the sweet broth – an umami bomb.
Takoyaki (S$5/4 pieces or S$8/8 pieces) and Kara-age (S$5/3 pieces or S$8/5 pieces) are also available as add-ons. But, if you’re still feeling peckish and need a good serving of ramen’s best friend, gyoza, IPPUDO is just next door. Their Hakata-style bite size Gyozas (S$9/5 pieces or S$16/10 pieces) are still popular as ever, especially when dipped into a mix of black vinegar and la-yu (chilli oil). Those who want some protein on the side can try their new Samurai Ribs (S$7/piece or S$13/2 pieces). Skip the lemon, and just enjoy the Chef’s special spiced marinade. It works pretty well when dipped into the broth as well.
There you have it. Two worlds – Japan and America – united in Singapore, by means of a bowl of comfort food. But this poses a dilemma; chicken vs pork bone broth. Perhaps, one for lunch, and another for dinner?