SINGAPORE - Tsuta, the world's only Michelin-starred ramen eatery, opened its first overseas outlet outside of Japan on Sunday (Nov 6).
Foodies eager for a taste of the world's only Michelin-starred ramen were up early to stake a spot in the queue.
By the time the 18-seat restaurant on the ground floor of Pacific Plaza opened at 11am, there were about 175 people waiting in line.
The restaurant estimated waiting times to be an hour long. It is set to serve 200 to 250 bowls of ramen a day in the first five days of operation, and will increase this number to 400 to 450 when full service commences on Nov 12.
Undergraduate Nigel Toh, 19, the first person in the queue at 8am - three hours ahead of its opening - said he had heard so much about Tsuta in the news and decided to head down to try.
"I am keen to try their signature shoyu ramen since tonkotsu ramen is more commonly available in Singapore," he added.
IT consultant Kelvin Teh, 35, the second person in line, had watched a YouTube video on Tsuta six months ago but did not expect such a famous name to expand overseas - least of all in Singapore.
"I am pretty excited, and I know if I come at 10am, trying the ramen will be a 'gone case' as the queue will be too long by then," Mr Teh told The Straits Times.
For bank analyst Anthony Garcia, 32, this was his second time queuing up for a Michelin-starred eatery.
He said: "The first one is Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle - and I think it has become my hobby to do it. Since Tsuta received one Michelin star, their ramen must be special. I am excited to try their ramen as it has exquisite truffle oil in it."
Another in the queue was violinist and Tokyo native Yoko M, 34, who had heard about how diners would start lining up at 6am in Japan.
"Since it it the first day, I figure why not come earlier to try to shorten the queue time as much as possible. I am going to try both the shoyu and shio ramen today," she said.
Indonesian Sugirato Alim, 35, had arranged for a nine-hour stopover in Singapore on his flight from Indonesia to Italy just to try out the ramen at Tsuta.
"I heard that Tsuta draws long queues in Japan and I thought I would take a risk and queue up for ramen during my nine-hour stopover in Singapore. I am so surprised to see such a long queue when I reached the place at 10am and hope that I do not miss my flight at 4.30pm today," he said.
Tsuta's Singapore outpost is a partnership with investment company Hersing Corporation, which also owns the local franchise of Michelin-starred Hong Kong dim sum chain Tim Ho Wan. Hersing is also working on an expansion for Liao Fan, the world's cheapest Michelin star eatery. It will set up a quick-service restaurant, Hawker Chan, in the middle of this month at 78 Smith Street.
Tsuta Global CEO Brian Chua, Tsuta Global executive chef and director Yuki Onishi and Tsuta Global director Saito Hiroshi were present at the opening.
At Tsuta, diners can choose from a menu of eight types of ramen in either shoyu or shio broth, and they come with ingredients such as char siu, bamboo shoots, and ajitama (flavoured egg).
The shoyu ramen is made with a blend of two custom-brew soy sauces that are made in Wakayama prefecture from soybeans that have been aged for two years, and another one that is concocted by Tsuta owner Onishi. The soya sauce blend is then mixed with a dashi stock that is made with chicken, vegetables, clams and other seafood, before being topped with black truffle sauce.
The shio ramen is concocted with seafood and chicken stock that is mixed with Okinawa sea salt and Mongolian rock salt.
Prices start from $15 for a bowl of shoyu ramen and shio ramen each.
Started in 2012, Tsuta was awarded one Michelin star in December last year.
Mr Onishi, who worked as an importer in the fashion industry, learned the ramen business from his father, who ran traditional ramen restaurant. During his business trips to the United States, he got the idea to focus on creating a solid dashi stock for ramen, instead of depending on sauces. He also injected Western influences by adding ingredients such as truffle puree and oil into the ramen.