Menya Musashi, Raffles City

Save living in Tokyo for like, forever, it’s virtually impossible to sample the gastronomia that is Tokyo. It’s such a cocktease, it’s not even funny, especially when you have something like ramen, where each chef brings in something similar, yet so new and different, it’s mind-boggling. That’s just the ramen. Imagine all the other microcosm and worlds of tempura, soba, donburi, sushi bar, curry houses… It’s a complete mind fuck. You can’t stop and reminisce – you have no choice but to move on, otherwise you’d never move at all.

K-Pop fans can say anything they want, but at the end of the day, Japanese cuisine still rules in Singapore, and it seems like the red dot’s hell-bent on becoming one of the top ramen cities in the world outside of Japan. That means that even if you can’t afford to visit Tokyo, just relax and console in the fact that eventually, Japan’s best will open an outlet in Singapore, even if it’s just for a while, like the fatal Kusubi. Even if you’re feeling ramen fatigue, Menya Musashi oughta be one you sit up for because I hear it’s quite the darling of nishi-Shinjuku, the appropriately named “Skyscraper District”. The chain is known for its sleek and flashy interior, which may be novel with the minimalist and functional Tokyo, but here in Singapore, ramen shops besides Miharu, tend to doll up their outlets quite a bit. Reading through the surprising pile of ramen blogs, most of which had only visited last week, I was a tad apprehensive to go down because it appears that they only had a limited menu, and the shop’s signature wasn’t actually available. Thank the winged dragon of Ra that they still had the limited menu, but the tsukemen was here, and with that, I heaved a sigh of relief.

Forget all the pleasantries and act like a hipster Japanese ramen aficionado and just aim straight for the tsukemen, because tsukemen’s hot in Tokyo, and hipsters are always ahead of the crowd, apparently. No matter how tempting it looks on your fellow diners’ tables, don’t order the gyoza. In Tokyo, people eat gyoza at the shop that sells gyozas only, and you wanna look like you’re in the know, right? Go all meta by taking no more than a slight sip of your broth before you start on your noodles, and never, under any circumstances, drink the soup as long as there’s a single strand of noodle in your bowl. The practice of putting your noodles on your spoon and eating from there is a big no-no. Besides, the spoon’s so big, it’s the equivalent of giving a blow job to an Asian cock. To guarantee your graduation from hipster school, ask the wait staff for soup after you’re done with all your meat and noodles. Only then do you drink the soup. This act alone, will give you street cred, and all your fellow self-professed pretentious diners will wonder in embarrassment what just happened.

This is perhaps the closest I’ve had to Rokurinsha, generally considered to be THE best ramen shop in Japan. The broth wasn’t as rich and flavorsome as the “liquid gold” I had in Tokyo, but I’d imagine that this is to suit local palettes. However, the essence of that was pretty close, which I still thoroughly enjoyed. The quality of noodles was exquisite although I was a tad disappointed, it wasn’t as springy or tangy as I’d like it to be, but that’s just nitpicking, really. The chashu was absolutely to die for – the marbling was perfect, and yes, it’s fatty, but that’s how really good chashu is, and there was a wood-fire burnt taste that gave it a very deep “woody” foundation which was different.

Overall, I enjoyed my meal. I ordered the “white” tsukemen, which is the standard miso-based broth. I’ll be coming back real soon to try the “black” (garlic) and “red” (chili) before they localize the broth further, which is always my biggest worry whenever I have ramen in Singapore.

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