This Tonkotsu’s probably the best I’ve had in Singapore, so far.
Uma Uma Ramen hails from the historical and cultural city of Hakata, which is today part of the city known as Fukuoka on Japan’s Kyushu island. Owing to its close proximity to China, as well as the existence of the black pig or kurobuta on the island, Kyushu’s known for its tonkotsu (pork bone) variety of ramen, and Uma Uma is no exception. Despite its founding in 1953, the Hakata-based chain has never step foot outside of Japan until now, with its first outlet in Singapore. I discovered its existence by accident – every day, I’d take a bus home and it’d pass by Forum The Galleria, and in the past week, its lighted up frontage caught my eye, and the rest, well, is history. Located beside Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Uma Uma is furnished with a contemporary Japanese interior. Despite the lack of media attention thus far, it was buzzing with people. While I gather the kitchen to be Japanese, the largely Singaporean wait staff prove to be Uma Uma’s weakest link. Greetings are haphazard (compared to the ones from the kitchen) and there’s a general lack of attentiveness and initiative. While this isn’t a major complaint, you do notice it but I didn’t come here for the service, so I was willing to put that behind me and just focus on the food.
Currently, the menu offers just two ramen – the chain’s signature, and a spicy variant; along with four side dishes including chicken karaage, yaki chashu and a mini chashu don. Tonkotsu is perhaps my least favorite style of Japanese ramen because when done right, the flavor of the pork is very apparent, and it’s just too strong for me to have it frequently. I like Keisuke Tonkotsu King’s, but I do feel like it’s “too much”. Don’t take my word for it, though, because from the blogs I’ve been reading, I seem to be in the minority. The signature I ordered bears all the characteristics of a good tonkotsu broth but it bears a difference – a little miso is added into the broth to give it more depth, and the result of that splendor is an air of sophistication and layering that completed the puzzle. The noodles are also a little more “Chinese” than its Kanto cousins; thinner strands resembling that of wonton mee which went down easily in the midst of all this heaviness. A testament to this balancing act is that while it’s flavorful, it’s not overpowering.
Darren and I were just about done when we realized that a heavy downpour had befell Orchard Road. Making sure there was nobody queuing (I wouldn’t want to deprive anybody of such a good find), we then ordered a side dish of chicken karaage to pass the time as the storm raged outside. Lightly seasoned, adequately tender and flavorful, and crispy, it wasn’t the best thing I’ve had in a long shot. It’d do fine as an appetizer, but I’d doubt anybody would be coming here for some karaage.