This may just become your new favourite ramen stop. And it’s not just the creative new flavours that are the main draw at Tonkotsu King Four Seasons.
Name of restaurant: Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King Four Seasons
Type of Cuisine: Japanese tonkotsu (pork-based) ramen
Tonkotsu King Four Seasons at Rochor Road. PHOTOS: RAMEN KEISUKE SINGAPORE
True to its name, the restaurant’s ramen creations are inspired by the four seasons. For instance, the Summer-themed ramen as sizzling hot as the season, while the Spring variant tastes sweet and pungent with the addition of basil and parmesan cheese.
But there is more to this culinary concept than mere gimmick. Run by Japanese chef and TV personality Keisuke Takeda, the fourth store of Ramen Keisuke Singapore has also tweaked its ramen recipe to produce a thicker and more flavourful soup stock that is exclusive to this outlet.
Made with pork bones, collagen and chicken bones, the restaurant’s tonkotsu broth is brewed with 50 per cent more pork bones than usual. On top of that, the soup used is also boiled for a period between 10 to 12 hours — over two hours longer than the time taken at the other Ramen Keisuke stores at Orchid Hotel, Millenia Walk and 100AM at Amara Hotel.
When we tried the new ramen creations, we found the soups to taste of an almost creamy consistency. Although it is heavier on the palate, it made every spoonful taste more flavourful and fragrant.
Here, we dish out our verdict on the restaurant’s five ramen creations:
Tonkotsu Ramen Winter Special with all toppings ($14.90)
We tried the Tonkotsu ramen Winter Special with all toppings ($14.90) first, as it is said to be the dish with the “lightest” broth. This ramen dish is free of additional flavours to make it the comfort food that you’ll crave in a cold climate. The char siew (roast pork) was tender and the onsen egg pleasantly chewy with its soft, molten centre.
Compared to the other Ramen Keisuke outlets, the tonkotsu soup base does taste more intense. If you love savouring every sip of your soup, you’ll find this a discernible improvement. For ramen traditionalists, this is the dish to pick.
Tonkotsu Ramen Autumn Special with all toppings, ($16.90)
To celebrate the abundance of mushrooms in autumn, the Tonkotsu Ramen Autumn Special with all toppings, ($16.90) features minced pork and a tonkotsu broth infused with mushrooms. Bonito flakes — made from dried, smoked bonito fish — are also added to the dish.
The dish features three types of fried mushrooms: the shitake, shimeji and eringi (king oyster mushroom). Finely minced pork replaces the classic roast pork in the autumn-themed ramen.
At our tasting session, chef and franchise owner Keisuke Takeda shared that the Autumn Special is his personal favourite, among the restaurant’s five ramen creations; he says he can finish up to two bowls of this at once.
We can see why: the mushrooms add an earthy, aromatic flavour to the dish, without overpowering the complex taste of the tonkotsu broth. It’s similar but a little less thick than the tsukumen “dipping” ramen, where the noodles are dipped into a gravy-like soup stock.
Tonkotsu Ramen Spring Special with all toppings ($15.90)
As the most unconventional dish on the menu, the Tonkotsu Ramen Spring Special with all toppings ($15.90) may not be for everyone. The basil and parmesan cheese used makes this the richest broth of the lot; it’s so thick that it tastes almost reminiscent of a basil-based cream pasta. We found it a little too strong and pungent for our liking though.
Tonkotsu Ramen Summer Special with all toppings ($17.90)
Should you love your chilis, this Sichuan-inspired ramen likely to be your favourite dish. It features spicy minced pork, along with the char siew slices, black fungus and spring onion that is included in all ramen dishes.
To reflect the hot heat of the summer, the Tonkotsu Ramen Summer Special with all toppings ($17.90) features a very zesty combination of Szechuan and cayenne pepper, as well as shichimi; the latter is a Japanese blend of seven spices, including ground chili pepper.
While having it by the spoonful is bearable even for those with a low tolerance for spice, some of us were not as game to finish the entire bowl of ramen. We could felt the prickly sensation of chili powder on our throats, after each sip of the soup.
Tonkotsu Ramen King ($17.90)
The Tonkotsu Ramen King ($17.90) gets the royal title through the well-marinated pork used in the dish; it’s definitely our favourite slice of meat compared to even the tender char siew. Pork belly slices are fried in a ginger and teriyaki marinade, which gives it a smokey and slightly salty taste.
PRICES: Ramen prices start from an affordable $10.90 (Tonkotsu ramen Winter Special, without any additional toppings) to $17.90 (Tonkotsu Ramen King, with all toppings).
Diners pay an additional $1 for the seaweed, $2 for the onsen-style poached egg and $4 for the special toppings unique to the seasonal dishes; such as the basil and parmesan cheese in the Spring Special ramen and the spicy minced pork for the Summer Special ramen.
To order, fill up a form indicating your ramen preferences; such as the ingredients you’ll like to include, the thickness of your soup to the texture of your noodles — whether you would prefer it done soft or firm.
The restaurant boasts some of the best ramen broths that we’ve ever had; the soups are flavourful with depth.
An added bonus? As with the other Ramen Keisuke Tonkotsu King outlets in Singapore and Japan, diners will get to have as much of hard-boiled eggs and seasoned bean sprouts as they would like. A basket of hard boiled eggs and a can of bean sprouts are placed on every table; these are refillable, upon request. There is no minimum spending required for these free treats.
Tonkotsu King Four Seasons is located at 158 Rochor Road, Bugis Village Singapore 188433.
For more information, visit Ramen Keisuke Singapore’s Facebook page.