Bari-uma Ramen, Tanglin Shopping Centre

You’ve to search to find the good stuff.

It’s been a while since I last had a break overseas, and I was really starting to feel the fatigue. I don’t hate Singapore, to be honest. It’s fine, but every city’s a pressure cooker. You can only stay inside for so long before needing to retreat back to the hinterlands to recuperate, then come back, ready to get back in the game. Of course, you save a little hassle by staying within the borders, but with Singapore being a city-state, the urbanity is inescapable. I’d be joining the annual exodus real soon, sure, but the pressures of work have been exceptionally high and I wanted a more immediate relief.

That fuels my food adventure. Rather than hunting down the biggest, or the best, these days, my motivation is, well, otherworldly. I remember my first experience like it was only yesterday. I met my second partner that cool Sunday for what eventually transpired into a really great date. He led me through a dingy alley, and when we emerged, we were in what felt like Japan at C.H.I.J.M.E.S.’ Sun With Moon. Staffed and frequented by a mostly Japanese clientele, it was all absolutely fascinating to this then young and rather fit conscript.It’s quite frankly, hard to keep up with the F&B industry in Singapore, and with the world of the web literally on my fingers, it’s all too natural that blogs bring forward a sense of direction…and misdirection. Too many food bloggers, yes, even “official” ones, are ignorant and naive. There are quite a few bad ones, but the one that’s caught my attention and my unintentional following for their sheer naivety and arrogance is one manned by a quartet of males. One obsesses about “oil”, even if it isn’t. Another is overseas, and you’d think the food in that nation would be far more representative of what those courses should taste like than the offshoots here. But no, not for this guy. He ain’t satisfied. One blog that I do respect, is The Traveling Hungryboy. He’s not gritty on the details, but he seems to find places that are just undeniably unique, not for the ambiance (God no, we’ve enough of style over substance spots already), but for the food itself.

Remember what I told you about Singapore being a stop for ramen joints to set up shop sooner or later? Well, the latest entrant is Hiroshima-based Bariuma which quite honestly, is a pretty small chain from Japan, but always gets raved about. Located at Tanglin Shopping Centre (not Tanglin Mall), the choice of locale is a little off. Then again, as many inconvenient yet bustling spots have proven, if the food’s good, the crowd will come, regardless of where you are. The chain, when my friend Darren and I visited, was fairly deserted except for some expat Japanese, and the frequently occasional St. Regis crowd, who seemed to be quite aware of what they were getting themselves into. As one might expect with a West Japan ramen joint, it’s a tonkatsu broth. The ramen menu is fairly standard, like what one might expect to see at Ramen Champion, but it offers more. Half portions are available for SGD 2 off the original price, and there are also other things, such as the Ishiyaki Chaofun, a stonepot rice dish, and a fairly comprehensive poultry yakitori offering on the menu too. Darren opted for the signature Ajitama ramen while I ordered a Goku-ramen, with the only difference being that mine boasts a “strong flavor”, and is likely the variant you’d find in the historic city.

I’m gonna come out on a limp and say that this was probably my second favorite tonkatsu ramen in Singapore, second only to Keisuke Tonkatsu King, and just a tad better than Uma-Uma Ramen. The broth’s rich, there’s a char grilled factor to the meat which gives it a very next texture, and the ramen’s just right. While the side of gyoza was certainly good, it wasn’t memorable. And boy, I had better karaage from Tori Q.

I’ll be coming back.

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