Monday, February 22, 2016

Menya Takeichi and Tokyo Sundubu - Chicken Ramen and Comforting Tofu Stews

Somehow, we are all too familiar with pork based broth for our ramen fix, and the idea of using other non-pork foundations may seem like a good idea, but it rarely works.

One that does is this popular chicken ramen version that hails from Tokyo and it is making its debut here this month.

In fact, Menya Takeichi is one of two prominent non-pork ramen launches last week. The other lobster infused (or is that confused) ramen establishment left me underwhelmed.

Menya, which is part of the Eat at Seven chain of Japanese eateries, fared so much better. They nailed almost everything that is important and crucial to a good bowl of ramen.

That is, a natural tasting and sooting broth, lava molten looking and tasting onsen eggs and buttery, melting cha siu. Out of these three important factors, the lobster ramen only managed to get one of it right. And no, it is not the overhyped broth.

Chicken Ramen

Back to Menya, and the chicken broth comes in two selections - one clear and one rich. Though the rich may elicit a stronger intensity of flavour, I did find it somewhat too heavy to finish on my own. And thus, this may be better served as a sharing portion.

The clear broth, however, is a delightful and refreshing take on the classic ramen. The lighter tone of the chicken flavoured soup means that you can easily consume a bowl with relative ease. The noodles are pretty par for a ramen shop, though I would have liked mine to be less cooked. Nevertheless, the combination of chicken broth and ramen noodles worked out very well in the end.

The eggs are near perfect, as are the thinly sliced pieces of pork. The meat has a good flavour and texture, but then, that it is a requisite of any bowl of ramen. Despite my preference for pork based ramen, this proves to be a very viable alternative.

Potato Salads

As for the sides, instead of the usual gyoza, Menya is serving a pair of typical Japanese potato salads that are quite hearty and appetising. Mentaiko and poached egg make for colourful and refreshing garnishes to the simple staple, and prove to be a worthwhile addition. Nothing fancy, just palate friendly sides to please the audience.

Chicken Ball Rice

For those who might prefer rice bowls, the Chicken Ball Rice is another pleasing dish here. A sensuous poached egg with an inviting oozy looking yolk peeks out from the bowl and full flavoured sauces adorn the rather tasty chicken balls make for a fulfilling dish.

Seafood Sundubu

Just next door to Menya is a newly opened Korean inspired stew place called Tokyo Sundubu. Like its namesake, it hails from the Japanese capital and it's main focus is on stews with housemade tofu. The seafood is a particularly enjoyable dish with its crustacean powered sweetness that has just the right body of flavour without the injection of artificial umami.

The seafood includes mussels and some lobster claws inside, but the highlight is the velvety and silky tofu that is just gorgeous to eat. Best taken with a bowl of their delectable Japanese polished rice that is pretty much eatable on its own. Another comforting bowl of food on a cold day.

Beauty Pot

The collagen craze is still much in force and this Beauty Pot will certainly please those seeking it. A collagen ball is added prior to eating to infuse it with the beauty enhancing elements that it is supposed to give. Needless to say, this will attract the ladies.

The tofu is again in evidence and though the broth is less intensified, it is still flavourful in a very natural manner that never overstays it welcome. A superb stew again.

These latest two eateries from Eat at Seven stick to the basics and roots of Japanese culinary goodness and gets it pretty right. At the end of the day, do not be hoodwinked by the latest trends and fads.

You may think it is cool to be seen eating the lobster ramen as part of the hipster culture, but seriously, how many times will you come back for it? Especially when there isn't any real lobster meat in it, which is essentially a copout.

As for me, I will be happier to part my fifteen or so buckeroos for another bowl of chicken ramen instead. Or that seafood tofu stew for that matter.

Menya Takeichi and Tokyo Sundubu
3 Temasek Boulevard
Suntec City
03-313 and 03-312

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