I never thought a chicken based broth ramen would work, but I was wrong.
But this is by chef-proprietor Keisuke Takeda. His restaurant, Keisuke Tokyo, which serves Hokkaido king crab broth ramen, has been consecutively voted “the best” by the highly respected Yahoo! Japan’s compilation. There was never any doubt about his ability. Tori King, located at 100AM, is French trained chef Takeda’s third venture in Singapore. This restaurant, as its name “tori” (Japanese for “chicken”) suggests, specializes in chicken based broth ramen. The diner shares many characteristics with its predecessors, with vintage Japanese posters lining its walls similar to Tonkotsu King (located just adjacent from 100AM at Orchid Hotel), and the ubiquitous necessities that we’ve come to expect from Keisuke like sesame seeds to crush, free flow of eggs, and a palate cleanser, a bottle of pickled beansprouts. New to Tori King, is a small jar containing a “spicy sauce”.
At Tori King, ordering is simple enough. You choose from three varieties of soup: black spicy, wasabi and the original chicken broth. Feeling particularly unadventurous, I went for the latter. While it’s not uncommon to use chicken stock in ramen, it doesn’t however, get much attention. Ramen are rich cocktails, and poultry, by virtue of their anatomy, possess less marrow fat (essential for flavoring). The chicken however, makes up for this lack of fat with collagen – in the cartilage and skin, which gives birth to a rich and sticky (may be misconstrued as being oily) broth. I enjoyed it immensely – finishing up all my noodles and broth in record time… at least for a Singapore based Japanese ramen. Of course, as a collagen filled broth, this isn’t one to sip, or wait till it’s cold.
Truth be told, there was nothing particularly unique about the broth and noodles that hadn’t already had from Tonkatsu King. I know one’s pork based, and the other’s chicken based, but in terms of consistency and flavor, they seemed to be of the same DNA, which wasn’t a bad thing. I was most impressed instead, by the chicken drumstick, which seems to be grilled in a Japanese machine which seals in the flavors and keeps the meat fresh and tender. With the spicy sauce by the table, it was such a delight. I could have it every day, really.