Every once in a while, when the weather is cool or it’s rainy outside, I crave noodles. By saying that, I’m not talking about our regular bak chor mee or fishball noodles. I mean, ramen—a good hearty bowl of springy thin noodles, swimming in rich pork bone broth, served with slices of meltingly tender cha shu.
However, satiating ramen cravings in Singapore can be quite costly as a bowl usually cost three to four times more than local hawker noodles, and this was what started my personal quest to find a bowl of ramen that will ensure I get back some change from my S$10 bill.
This was when I chanced upon Takagi Ramen. Founded in 2015, Takagi Ramen started off as a humble canteen stall in National University Singapore. Since then, they have won the hearts of many Singaporeans and has grown to a chain local ramen stall with four outlets islandwide.
Nestled comfortably in the heartlands of Ang Mo Kio, this hole-in-the-wall establishment serves up Hakata–style ramen that deems itself to be ‘ramen for the average Singaporean’. Upon entering the restaurant and browsing through their menu, it became apparent to me as to why they brand themselves so.
Bedecked in light shades of wood with black and red furnishings, the Ang Mo Kio outlet was decently casual and comfortable. Further inside the store, the open concept lends a view into their kitchen over the counter seats, allowing you to take a peek at how your ramen is being prepared. It also doubles as a self-collection spot.
I was intrigued when I found out that I could get a decent bowl of Takagi Ramen at S$6.90 nett. No GST and no service charge. I mean, how do they keep the business running and even manage to expand at this price? More importantly, would the quality of their noodles be good?
We decided to order a variety of their ramen dishes and also take on their new menu item, the Fuji Five Lakes Fried Rice to find out for ourselves.
Named after the shop, Takagi Ramen (S$6.90) showcases their signature tonkatsu pork broth that has been boiled for up to 12 hours, resulting in a full-flavoured and almost creamy base. Despite its rich, milky colour, it was surprisingly smooth and light on the palate making it very slurp-able together with the ramen.
Freshly made in-house, the ramen noodles had a lovely and distinct springy chew which I very much enjoyed. Paired together with the slow-braised, melt-in-your-mouth cha shu slices, every mouthful was a delight, which somehow made me forget that it only costs S$6.90.
Like myself, if you fancy a little fieriness and heat in your bowl of ramen, then opt for the Karaka-men (S$7.50). With the addition of a special blend of red chillies, I definitely broke a sweat whilst savouring the noodles. Magically, I could still taste the fragrance and flavours of the pork in the broth.
To me, I felt that the spicy pork broth matched better with the ramen noodles as it was more flavourous and appetising.
Next up was the Mazemen (S$6.90)—dry Hakata-style ramen noodles served with a generous portion of juicy sweet corn, crisp toasted nori, strips of pickled ginger, thinly sliced scallions and topped with hand-pulled pork. The dish contained an alluring mixture of colours that made my mouth water simply by the look of it.
When the ingredients were all mixed together, it was refreshing. Bursts of sweetness from the corn went hand-in-hand with the slightly smoky and savoury pulled pork. In between bites, the sharpness of the raw scallions and the acidity of the pickled ginger punched through, creating a different dimension of flavour that was so addictive and unstoppable.
I would highly recommend you to get an additional Ajitama (seasoned ramen egg) (+S$1) to go with the ramen, as the luscious custard-like egg yolk is bound to result in a dish that is truly umami.
Fascinated by the picture of their newly launched menu item, we also ordered the Fuji Five Lakes Fried Rice (S$10.90) to find out if the dish was really Fujisan-sized. Available in three sauces, salted egg, chilli crab and blue cheese, we decided to go for the ‘safer and never-go-wrong’ option— chilli crab sauce.
Oh boy, it was certainly an impressive pile of fried rice shaped like the mountain herself. Surrounding the rice were five accompanying condiments (bamboo shoots, crunchy shredded black fungus, crab meat, corn kernels, and faux abalone slices) representing the five lakes surrounding Mount Fuji.
After pouring the chilli crab sauce, it looked like a volcano had just erupted with the sauce flowing over the compactly stacked rice. Eaten alone, the fried rice tasted rather bland, lacking very much in its seasoning.
However, when mixed together, the slightly spicy and sweet sauce did its wonders adding a kick to the rice, bringing all the flavours of each ingredient together. What I thought was gimmicky, was, in fact, a rather delicious dish that I would recommend sharing with a group of friends.
Just like all ramen restaurants, Takagi Ramen also has side dishes to accompany their noodles. As usual, we chose the Gyoza (S$4.50). These potsticker dumplings were wrapped around succulent minced pork and scallions filling, then fried to a crisp golden brown. As decent as it looked, they tasted normal (think Old Chang Kee) and did not leave a lasting impression.
By the time we were almost done with our meal, I realised that we were surrounded by families and groups of students, talking about everything under the sun over their bowls of ramen. Then, it occurred to me that this was exactly what the owners meant by ‘ramen for the average Singaporean’—allowing everyone to be able to enjoy authentic and quality ramen at affordable prices without having to break the bank.
Did I also mention that every bowl of ramen purchased entitles you to one free kaedama (noodle refill)? That means a double portion for the price of one! For the quality you get with the price paid, Takagi Ramen will definitely be one of my to-go spots whenever I have any ramen cravings!
Expected Damage: S$6.90 – S$12 per pax
Our Rating: 4 / 5
51 Ang Mo Kio Ave 3, [email protected], #01-01C, Singapore 569922