Last Updated: July 22, 2018
For many wonderful, valid reasons, Singaporeans absolutely love Japanese food, and I’m no exception. But with all the ramen places already open across Singapore, it can get a little boring sometimes.
That’s why I’m happy there’s Konjiki Hototogisu in CHIJMES to spice up our lives! Awarded Tokyo’s Michelin Bib Gourmand since 2015, this is one noodle joint that ramen lovers shouldn’t miss.
The outlet in Tokyo only has eight seats — yes, that’s how exclusive it is. Of course, the Singapore outlet that opened in end-June 2018 is slightly more spacious.
With both counter seats and larger tables available, you won’t have to squeeze with others for that coveted bowl of ramen.
To start off the meal, every order of ramen snags you a bowl of complimentary Fukugawa Meshi (clam rice). This small portion of clam rice definitely helped to whet my appetite for the upcoming bowls of ramen goodness.
Easily finished in two or three mouthfuls, the fragrant rice and plump clams made me anticipate the ramen even more.
But first, our server taught us the correct way to enjoy ramen. We started off by cupping the whole bowl with our hands, so that we could feel its warmth.
Next, we breathed in the fragrance, and tasted the broth with different toppings. Finally, it was time to slurp up the noodles!
Konjiki Hototogisu is famous for their clam-flavoured broth with Hamaguri clams, so that’s one of the first few bowls I simply had to try.
The Shio Hamaguri Soup Signature ($14.90, $16.90 with ajitama add-on) came with white truffle oil and black truffle paste in the broth.
The clear and sweet broth also contained bacon bits and slightly nutty porcini flakes, which added even more depth of flavour to the dish.
I liked that the noodles were smooth but still slightly chewy, because as I munched on a mouthful of noodles and broth, the chewing brought out more complex flavours.
Each bowl of ramen also came with two slices of chashu, each cooked in a different way. There’s the traditional chashu that we’re used to finding in our ramen; a thick slice of tender pork belly.
And the other is a slice of chashu sous-vide in their house-made marinade. This was slightly more marbled and tasted a little like delicious soft bacon.
The main difference between the various dishes is the broth, while the noodles and chashu were consistently yummy.
The Shoyu Hamaguri Soup Signature ($14.90, $16.90 with ajitama add-on) had a slightly darker broth that was heavier on the palate. I actually preferred the shio broth over this.
The lighter broth featured the clam flavour more prominently, while I felt that the saltiness of the shoyu broth overwhelmed the sweet clam taste. But if you enjoy ramen broths that are big on flavour, you’ll like this shoyu broth!
Of course, every ramen joint worth their salt will have a decent Tonkotsu broth, and Konjiki Hototogisu is no exception.
Their Tonkotsu ramen comes with three different types of broth: Tonkotsu Original ($13.90, $15.90 with ajitama add-on), Tonkotsu Spicy ($14.90, $16.90 with ajitama add-on) and the more localised Tonkotsu Smoke & Pepper ($13.90, $15.90 with ajitama add-on).
I always measure the quality of a ramen shop by their Tonkotsu broth, and Konjiki Hototogisu certainly passed the test. Although it wasn’t as creamy as Tonkotsu broths you’d find in other ramen shops, this lighter clear broth still packed a flavourful punch.
The pork fats made the broth a little oily, but just gulp it down with some spring onions and you’re good to go!
The pork bone broth wasn’t overwhelming, and I liked that it complemented the noodles and chashu.
If you want a bit more kick in your bowl, try the Tonkotsu Spicy. The pork bone broth is enhanced with a generous dollop of spicy minced pork and beans, a much tastier alternative to the chilli oil that’s usually added.
The spice wasn’t too intense for me, but I felt that the addition of spice actually flattened the taste of the dish. It somewhat masked the rich flavours of the Tonkotsu broth, which was slightly disappointing.
I was interested to try the Tonkotsu Smoke & Pepper, a ramen creation by Chef Yamamoto that’s exclusive to Singapore.
Served with two sticks of burdock root and sprinkled with pepper, the broth was different from the usual Tonkotsu. Instead of pork bone, the broth uses smoked minced pork meat, which was probably why it reminded me somewhat of bak chor mee.
The minced pork meat is smoked with sakura wood chips, and tasted much like smoked duck or other smoked and cured meats. This was definitely a unique ramen broth, and you wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere else.
So if you’re looking for a really solid ramen joint, head down to Konjiki Hototogisu at CHIJMES. It’s hard to find quality ramen at such affordable prices, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of Chef Yamamoto himself.
Expected Damage: $13.90 – $16.90 per pax