Singapore is now ramen central with more than 100 restaurants in town dedicated to the Japanese one-dish wonder. But which are the best bowls around? The Straits Times' food critics give their pick.
Food critic Wong Ah Yoke's top three bowls of ramen
Ajitama Tonkotsu ($14)
Hakata Ikkousha Global Standard at Chijmes, 30 Victoria Street 01-07, Chijmes, open: 11.30am to 10pm (Monday to Saturday), 11.30am to 9pm (Sunday)
Hakata Ikkousha won the Ultimate Ramen Champion title for two years running - in 2012 and last year - when it was at Bugis+. And no wonder. Its Hakata-style thin noodles are wonderfully smooth and springy, with a nice bite that gets my vote.
The pork-based broth is flavourful but not overly rich. The Ajitama Tonkotsu comes topped with a flavoured egg, a large, thin slice of charsiu and thinly sliced wood-ear fungus, which has a slight crunch that is perfect with the noodles.
The new outlet in Chijmes opened in June and there is an older outlet in Changi Airport's Ramen Champion.
Chabuton Tonkotsu Ramen ($8.30 and $11.90)
Chabuton, 313 Orchard Road B2-01, 313@somerset, tel: 6636-8335, open: 11.30am to 10pm daily
The aroma of the creamy pork broth hits you immediately when the bowl of ramen arrives at the table. And then you taste it, and it is as good as it smells.
The noodles are smooth, with each strand coated with the thick broth.
The charsiu and egg do not stand out though. But I like the generous amount of sliced leeks and the sprinkling of sesame seeds that add to the aroma.
What is also good is that the dish comes in two sizes, a small portion at $8.30 and a large one at $11.90. Get the small one if you intend to have a side order of gyoza ($5 for eight pieces).
Hachifukumaru Ramen ($13)
Hachi Fuku Maru, 01-13 OG Orchard Point, 160 Orchard Road,
tel: 6737-9713, open: 11am to 11pm daily
This is an offshoot of Nantsuttei, which used to draw queues at its original Millenia Walk outlet with its pork broth laced with black garlic oil.
When Hachi Fuku Maru opened in 2012, it served only chicken broth with its ramen. That is lighter than pork broth but still very tasty. You get a choice of black or spicy red roasted garlic oil added to the soup.
Now it also serves the pork broth versions from Nantsuttei, which has moved from Millenia Walk to Orchard Central.
Besides the garlic oil, the toppings are also a signature - generous amounts of beansprout, nira (chives) and onion, as well as julienned cabbage, carrot and ginger.
The flavoured egg here is also perfect. The yolk and egg white are barely set, and are so very soft and smooth. The best.
Food editor Tan Hsueh Yun's top three bowls of ramen
Niigata Shoyu Ramen ($14)
Sanpoutei Ramen, 253 Holland Avenue 01-01, tel: 6463 7277, open: 11.30am to 11pm daily
When the broth arrives, I inhale deeply and am immediately hungry. Sanpoutei uses two kinds of dried sardines in its shoyu broth, alongside pork, whole chickens and vegetables. The dried fish add a deep umami flavour to the broth. Far from being fishy, it is full of oomph and has an intriguing smoky flavour. The thin, flat noodles, made on the premises, look rough hewn and have the springy texture that I like. Thick slices of menma are juicy and they take the trouble to torch the charsiu. An excellent bowl.
White Cha Shu Tsukemen ($14.90)
Menya Musashi with nine outlets, including at Raffles City Shopping Centre (01-16), The Star Vista (B1-08), VivoCity (01-104), Bedok Mall (01-69) and Tampines Mall (04-02)
The noodles make the dish. The strands are thick, slightly chewy and made without too much alkaline water. They go perfectly with the complex and nuanced dipping sauce, which is deeply savoury with a hint of natural sweetness. It also has a viscous texture that clings onto the noodles, delivering mouthful after mouthful of joy.
Uma Uma! Original Hakata Ramen, 01-41/42/43 Forum The Shopping Mall, tel: 6235 0855, open: 11.30am to 10pm daily
What happens when you do a mash-up of ramen and local tar mee? You get mazesoba, a delicious bowl of dry ramen. Toss the noodles, tender charsiu, bamboo shoots, scallions and leeks together with the sauce, which has zing from vinegar and mellow heat from chilli oil. Then make sure to break the half-boiled egg, so that the liquid yolk coats the noodles too.