Ramen Nagi is here after seven years

Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are (from left) Spicy Red King, Black King and Butao King.
Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are Spicy Red King (above), Black King and Butao King.PHOTO: RAMEN NAGI
Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are (from left) Spicy Red King, Black King and Butao King.
Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are Spicy Red King, Black King (above) and Butao King.PHOTO: RAMEN NAGI
Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are (from left) Spicy Red King, Black King and Butao King.
Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are Spicy Red King, Black King and Butao King (above)PHOTO: RAMEN NAGI
Three of Ramen Nagi's signature ramen are (from left) Spicy Red King, Black King and Butao King.
Satoshi IkutaPHOTO: RAMEN NAGI

Chef Satoshi Ikuta long wanted to set up shop in Singapore, but did not have the connection until now

Another famous ramen chain has set up shop in Singapore.

Ramen Nagi from Fukuoka, Japan, opened yesterday at Suntec City after a seven-year wait by its chef-owner Satoshi Ikuta.

Speaking through a translator, the 40-year-old, who is in town for the brand's launch, says in Japanese: "When I first opened overseas, in Hong Kong in 2010, I had also planned to open in Singapore. But there was no connection then."

Ramen Nagi is being brought to Singapore by Mr Engelbert Farillas, director of Ramen Nagi Singapore. His family has run the Ramen Nagi franchise in the Philippines since 2013.

In Singapore, the menu features the brand's four "king" signature tonkotsu-based flavours: traditional Butao King (tonkotsu pork broth, $13.90); Spicy Red King (blend of garlic, chilli oil and cayenne, $15.90); Black King (blackened garlic and squid ink, $15.90); and Green King (basil and olive oil in tonkotsu broth topped with grated parmesan, $15.90).

Diners can customise their bowl by selecting the richness of the broth, the amount of garlic, the texture of the ramen and whether they want pork shoulder or pork belly chashu. Each bowl comes with a dollop of housemade "fire sauce" - made with a blend of chillies, shoyu and sake - and diners can pick from spice level one to 10.

However, Nagi in Singapore will not offer its popular niboshi ramen, which is served in broth made with more than 20 types of dried sardines. That version of the noodles is not available outside of Japan, says chef Ikuta, because it is difficult to replicate the stock.

After getting a sense of the local palate, he will also customise a "Limited King" ramen for Singapore.

The creative chef does the same for his various overseas shops. For example, outlets in the Philippines offer a limited-edition tom yam ramen as well as oyster ramen.

Ramen Nagi, which was started in 2006, has 22 outlets in Japan and 28 overseas franchise branches.

There are plans to open four more outlets in Singapore within the next year.

Over the years, Ikuta has also become known for featuring ramen with exotic flavours and ingredients. He has used whale and bear meat, along with dried lizard. Other interesting flavours include clam chowder and Japanese tea.

A recent one-day offer was for "insect tsukemen", which was topped with deep-fried worms and crickets, and dipped into soups flavoured with crickets, grasshoppers or silkworm powder.

He has also embraced technology - with a "flying ramen" concept called Omiya Soratobu Ramen - where the ramen is ordered on an iPad and served on a conveyor belt. This new system will debut next month in Fukuoka.

But Ikuta loves more than ramen - he is fond of Singapore's bak chor mee too. He says: "I find every country's noodle culture very interesting. My ramen is a universal noodle. It is sexy ramen."

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• Ramen Nagi at 01-512/513 North Wing, Suntec City Tower 2 (next to north atrium taxi stand), 3E Temasek Boulevard; open: 11am to 10pm daily. For more information, call 6821-1601 or go to www.facebook.com/RamenNagiSingapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 13, 2017, with the headline 'Ramen Nagi is here after seven years'. Print Edition | Subscribe