I’m strictly an all-carbs girl—more specifically, noodles will always have my heart as the superior carbohydrate. I’ve developed an unabashed adoration for ramen, thick bee hoon, udon, ban mian, and vermicelli, but soba is typically untouched territory for me.
Nestled within Kelantan Road, Reiwa Soba is only open from Thursdays to Tuesdays from 11.30am until 1.30pm, or till sold out, so there’s already a couple of things working against me. Nevertheless, my Editor-in-Chief calls, and I will go.
It’s not a tall order to cover every item on Reiwa’s menu this rainy morning; there are only four mains, after all. And that only happens when you’re either extremely confident of your menu, or nothing else that makes the cut simply comes to mind. I’m hoping it’s the former.
What I tried
Last I remembered from the perennial debate in the office, it was loosely concluded that chicken is, indeed, the most pedestrian of all meats. And though I typically wouldn’t give any chicken that’s not battered and fried my time of day, for Reiwa Soba, I must.
Lightly doused in sesame oil, the Reiwa Chicken Soba’s (S$10) fragrance gently wafts over upon arriving at my table. But what’s even better, is its dipping sauce to accompany. With a splash of umami and light kick, the sauce’s seaweed dashi, chilli oil, and leek completely elevate the gastronomic experience and at this point, I’m muttering my thanks for not having to go through yet another boring dashi dipping base.
The chicken chunks in the sauce are equally delightful—their tender juiciness promptly dispelling all my offence towards chicken. I humbly and meekly rescind my aforementioned diss if you will forgive me.
The Reiwa Pork Soba (S$12) is simply a pork iteration of the chicken soba, with thin Spanish white pork slices sitting atop a bed of freshly handmade soba. Other than the same brilliant dipping sauce, the dish isn’t doing much for me—the pork slices and chilli oil are a no-brainer pairing that neither disappoints nor impresses.
For the first time, I’d dare say I’ll be picking the chicken over pork in a heartbeat, and that’s something I don’t ever recall claiming.
In between shooting photos, I clamour to sip on the Soup of the day Soba (S$10) because it’s drying up fast and furiously. And as it so happens, I’m in luck—an aromatic, tangy tom yam clear soup is today’s soup of the day; a category which is updated daily via a whiteboard in front of the shop.
There are also estimated queue and food service waiting times reflected on the boards, although it’s unknown how often they’re updated.
A broth that held much fragrance and promise, the tom yam soup was disappointingly not as flavourful nor spicy as I’d hoped. But then again, with me, any spice short of a sucker punch to the gut falls short. Spice rookies might find it manageable, however; consider it training wheels for the real deal if you must.
You’ll find that the Mango Salad Soba (S$10) is just a carbs version of the Mango Salad (S$4 for mini, S$7 for regular). A celebration of buckwheat, green mango, onion, chilli padi, and soba noodle work in tandem to form the familiar Thai-inspired flavour profile, with slight zest from the green mango keeping every bite refreshing.
The dish delivers exactly what it promises—it’s a great mango salad that is hard to fault, but also nothing more. An added brush of savouriness or increased spice would’ve done just the trick to differentiate it as a Reiwa special, for me.
Reiwa Soba also offers noodle upsizes at S$2 for 1.5 times the portion and $4 for twice the portion. That’s going to come in handy for the chicken and pork soba—for when you’ve slurped up all your noodles and realise you don’t know what to do with the rest of the delicious broth except to drink it, much to your doctor’s disdain.
Vera’s ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’
We’re getting a little more specific in today’s edition of the awards, and it’s not being handed to a dish, but rather an element of one. If you’ve stuck with me from the beginning, I thank you, and you can also probably already guess where this is headed.
I have no choice but to crown the seaweed dashi and chilli oil-based broth from the Reiwa Chicken Soba (S$10) and Reiwa Pork Soba (S$12) as the deserving winner of Vera’s chef’s kiss. If Reiwa sold them in take-home bottles, I’d definitely snag one or two, so that should be testament alone to how much I enjoy it.
I’ll be honest—it wasn’t easy getting to Reiwa Soba. Perhaps you’re blessed and you’ll be able to access a bus that’ll take you right to the coffee shop in which Reiwa is located. But for me, I have had to weave and dart through a couple of HDB blocks for about 14 minutes in the heavy rain to get here. Again, I’ll point out that the stall typically opens from 11.30am until 1.30pm or till sold out, so arriving bright and early is really the only way to get a taste of the elusive soba.
“Are all the constraints worth it?” you ask. Probably not. But if you happen to be in the area in the morning and would like to bask in some handmade soba with teh ping to pair, Reiwa Soba’s your guy.
Expected damage: S$10 – S$14 per pax
Our Rating: 3 / 5
28 Kelantan Road, #01-121, Singapore 200028
28 Kelantan Road, #01-121, Singapore 200028