Located at Block 39 in Gillman Barracks, The U Factory is a pop-up collection of experimental establishments, ranging from shops selling quirky arts and crafts items, to cafes and restaurant concepts. Most of the shops are closed by 7 pm, and the F&B outlets either open during the day (Maison Ikkoku Cafe, The Bakers’ League and The U Cafe), or only in the evening (The Travelling COW’s Ramen Burger and Rakusaba). We were there after work on a Friday so we only tried the Ramen Burger and Rakusaba.
This collaboration between Preparazzi and Eastern Craft Beer is a reinvention of the humble laksa, serving it tsukemen-style. Instead of bee hoon, you get a thin hand-made la mian, for dipping into a thick pork and prawn-based laksa broth. Accompaniments are cucumber and lotus root pickle (like achar), salmon otak, soft egg topped with sambal, and pork confit.
Overall, this was very good. The laksa dipping broth had loads of flavour and was thick and rich, and of the accompaniments, the pork belly was outstanding. The meat was confit-ed so it was nice and tender, but still with some bite, and the chef took a blow torch to it right before serving, so there was a nice charred, smokey flavour too.
The noodles were a bit on the thin side, and had a tendency to get a bit clumpy. Also, as with tsukemen ramen, you can also request for a fish broth soba-yu to add to the residual broth to drink it like a soup. In theory, that is. In practice, both of us didn't have any dipping sauce left after we were done with the noodles. They were nice enough to give us a bit more, together with the soba-yu, so that we could try the diluted version. The fish-based broth made for a rather interesting flavoured soup, but the laksa broth on its own is much better.
Ramen Burger by The Travelling C.O.W. (Chef On Wheels)
This was a bit of a disappointment. The concept is similar to MosBurger’s yakiniku rice burger – crispy ramen discs form the burger “buns”, with a choice of teriyaki chicken, bbq chicken or beef bulgogi as the filling.
We tried the beef, which was very tasty, albeit a bit hard to eat since you had to eat entire slices because you can’t bite through them. The ramen buns were a letdown – they got soggy pretty quickly and just tasted like crispy sang mien.
I wouldn’t mind checking it out the other cafe concepts as well. And before the pop-up closes at the end of January, we’ll be back for one more laksa tsukemen fix.
The pork that came with the laksa was incredible. And the way it's served is very interesting. However, while it's good for a change, I think I still prefer my traditional Katong Laksa.
As for the ramen burger, the filling was good, but the ramen used to replace the bun was pretty bad. Unless you want a gimmicky meal, I'd skip it.