After watching two weeks of ramen specials on Japan Hour, and reading today’s Sunday Times feature on ramen places in Singapore, we decided to finally succumb to our (or rather, my) ramen craving, and went to Ichibantei at Quayside for dinner.
The place was packed, and I think the waitstaff were rather overwhelmed. They were slightly inattentive, but once we managed to get their attention, we got a table, ordered and got our food all fairly quickly.
We managed to order the eel dish that was sold out when we wanted to try it at Ai Japanese restaurant a couple of weeks ago. This was really good – chunks of eel steamed with onions and beaten egg in a sweet teriyaki sauce.
I had the tonkotsu ramen, which is several slices of char siew, a half boiled egg and some bamboo shoots in Kyushu-style broth, which is made with pork bones. I was in heaven – the soup was milky white from the pork bones and full of flavour, and it even had bits of fried garlic to enhance the flavour. The texture of the ramen was good too, springy and firm with lots of bite to it. A had the tantan men, which had additional ingredients of sesame paste, chili paste and minced beef and pork added to the pork bone soup. This tasted a bit nutty, but because it reminded me of satay gravy, it wasn’t quite my cup of tea.
A great reason to keep coming back to this place is the soft ice cream dispenser. If you order a soft ice cream, the waitress will literally give you an ice cream cone in a metal holder with a handle, and you’re supposed to dispense it yourself. Believe me, it’s NOT as easy as it looks. Mine turned out ok because I decided not to be greedy; 3 swirls were all I dared to do before easing off on the lever. I’ll leave A to share his experience…
Bloody machine couldn’t be switched off (it’s actually quite simple if you’re not panicking while trying to balance a 4 level tower of power)! So now I’m prepared and going for 5 levels of swirls next time. I ended up catching the tumbling ice cream in my hand and having to gulp it down before further calamity struck.
Anyway, service kinda sucked and the servers looked stressed to hell by the crowd, which could be because the restaurant was in the papers that day as one of the best ramen joints in Singapore. I personally didn’t find the ramen all that fantastic. The unagi rocked but what’s going to bring me back is the soft-serve machine. Damn that machine! Vengeance will be mine!