There’s just something about a piping hot bowl of ramen: Singaporeans just can’t seem to get enough of it. From a solid bowl of tonkatsu broth, to various unique broths like lobster, duck and more, if it’s ramen, you can be sure we love it.
No wonder our sunny island is home to famous brands like Tsuta, Afuri Ramen, Ramen Keisuke and more. Opened since December 2019, yet another slurp-worthy brand has arrived in Singapore.
Kanada-Ya hails from Fukuoka, Japan, and has been immensely popular both in its homeland, and somewhat surprisingly, in rainy London too. If you want a taste of this award-winning ramen (it’s been voted No.1 Ramen Restaurant in London!), drop by Paya Lebar Quarter (PLQ) mall.
As a fan of Japanese cuisine, I simply had to try out these raved-about bowls of ramen from Kanada-Ya. Armed with my camera and a ravenous appetite, my dining companion and I set out to sample the famed truffle ramen and its other counterparts.
Kanada-Ya occupies a relatively small space in PLQ mall, and the red lanterns neatly decorating the 40-seater restaurant adds to the cosy atmosphere.
Light wooden furnishings create a minimalist feel, and diners can peer into the open kitchen to watch the chefs prepare your ramen. I did feel that the cashier station masquerading as a pushcart was a tad incongruous, though.
The space felt a little cramped as the restaurant filled up (we started late in the afternoon and spilt over to dinner), though I suppose that’s par for the course in most authentic ramen joints.
But enough yakking about the space, let’s get to the main purpose of the visit: the food.
We dove right into the most coveted dish at this ramen restaurant: the Truffle Ramen (S$22.90 for Basic, S$24.90 for Regular, S$26.90 for Special). This highly-sought-after ramen is limited to 20 bowls daily, so once Kanada-Ya sells out of Truffle Ramen, you’ll have to reschedule your meal if you want a taste of it.
They always say go big or go home, right? Which is why we chose the Truffle Ramen Special, which came with two slices of truffle belly chashu, black truffle jelly, asparagus, hanjuku egg and a piece of tokudai nori. A hearty bowl indeed.
A substantial dollop of black truffle jelly sat on a chashu slice before I mixed it into the broth. I could even see the fibrous bits of shredded truffle within the jelly, proving its quality.
Truffle oil, truffle jelly made from truffle paste, even truffle-marinated chashu—talk about truffle overload! Since the truffle fragrance was so strong and earthy, I half expected it to overpower the creamy tonkatsu broth. Thankfully, the earthy, garlicky and deliciously pungent truffle blended well with the milky, hearty broth.
The truffle belly chashu simply added to the dining experience—liberally layered with fats, each bite was full of melt-in-mouth fats and soft, tender meat. And of course, truffle fragrance.
If truffle isn’t for you, get a taste of the “original flavour”, the Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen (S$14.90/Basic, S$16.90/Regular, S$18.90/Special). Again, we went for the Kotteri Tonkotsu Ramen Special. On top of the four slices of belly chashu, the bowl also came with wood ear fungus, spring onion, hanjuku egg, and a piece of tokudai nori.
Without the addition of truffle, it became clear that even the broth itself was incredibly tasty. Thick and creamy, I would even liken it to the rich, decadent aftertaste of foie gras. Just the slightest bit gamey with heavy, meaty notes, I loved the broth but it, unfortunately, got quite overwhelming halfway through.
A good problem, to be sure, and the noodles soaked up even more of the creamy broth. I enjoyed the smooth, al dente noodles, which curiously reminded me of mee sua, but firmer.
For something lighter on the palate, go for the Tonkotsu Mix Ramen (S$14.90 for Basic, S$16.90 for Regular, S$18.90 for Special). The broth is a blend of the original thick and creamy tonkatsu, and the lighter chicken paitan. A cousin to the meaty tonkatsu, chicken paitan was lighter simply because it’s made with chicken rather than pork. It still had the creaminess, but none of the gaminess.
Served with essentially the same ingredients as its pure tonkatsu counterpart, this was a satisfying bowl of ramen as well—I actually preferred this over the original tonkotsu. If you’re not a fan of pork-based broths, you can also opt for the Chicken Paitan Ramen (S$15.90 for Basic, S$17.90 for Regular, S$19.90 for Special).
Now, ramen purists may scoff at the next ramen dish. But for a spice fiend like me, the Spicy Yuzu Ramen (S$16.90 for Basic, S$18.90 for Regular, S$20.90 for Special) was a real treat.
Originating from Kanada-Ya’s Hong Kong branch, yuzu miso is mixed into tonkatsu and chicken paitan broth, and enhanced with a dollop of spicy miso paste. I eagerly ordered the Spicy Yuzu Ramen Special, which came with three slices of collar chashu, bean sprouts, spring onions, pickled onions, hanjuku egg and a piece of tokudai nori.
Mixing in the spicy paste wafted the alluring scent of yuzu to my nose—refreshing and tangy, the yuzu miso also added a citrusy undertone to the creamy broth. The spice was fairly mild to me, but sweat beaded along my dining companion’s forehead, so it all depends on your spice tolerance.
Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of the collar chashu, as its texture was a lot tougher than the belly chashu. I could’ve been spoilt by the melt-in-mouth fat, but the collar chashu certainly took a lot more jaw work.
We also tried two side dishes, the Crab Cream Korokke (S$9.90) and the Wasabi Mayo Gyoza (S$6.90).
My advice? Skip the gyoza and go straight for the Crab Cream Korokke.
I wouldn’t say Kanada-Ya’s gyoza wasn’t good; it was simply rather ordinary. Juicy for sure, with a slight kick from the wasabi, but mostly pedestrian in taste.
The Crab Cream Korokke, on the other hand, was a thing of wonder. Served in a pair with a wedge of lemon, I’d recommend squeezing some lemon juice over the golden-brown batter. It really helped to cut through the batter and creamy crab chunks.
Not only was the batter super crunchy, but it was also fluffy and light, without the dreaded greasiness. Dip the fried croquette into the mayonnaise that’s served on the side, and take a bite full of creamy potato and sweet, juicy crab chunks.
I was eyeing my dining companion’s portion, though he quickly and possessively finished it in a few bites. It’s one of those side dishes that you simply don’t want to share.
Kanada-Ya certainly lives up to its fame. With such reasonably-priced dishes and slurp-worthy broths, I’m sure to return for another taste—hopefully, I’ll be lucky enough to enjoy the Truffle Ramen again. Though an empty stomach is a must; otherwise you won’t be able to finish the whole bowl.
While I’m there, I will definitely order one serving (or more) of the Crab Cream Korokke.
If you love ramen like I do, you’ll want to make a trip down and try it for yourself. Itadakimasu!
Expected Damage: S$15 – S$30 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
10 Paya Lebar Road, PLQ Mall, #03-30, Singapore 409057
10 Paya Lebar Road, PLQ Mall, #03-30, Singapore 409057