After training ended on a great weekday afternoon at an excellent time of 12pm in a nice central place, my friends and I decided to head to the nearby Kampong Glam for lunch.
I was very excited because I love Kampong Glam! It is a very pretty and touristy area with lots of interesting halal eateries I’ve never been to before.
We were all ready to explore and conquer whatever looked good in the area when we saw Ichikokudo, housed in a cute white and blue building, first thing upon entering Kampong Glam. Its poster had the words “Hokkaido Authentic Ramen” and when we saw the halal symbol for it, we screamed a little and went in immediately!
With flowers and cards congratulating Ichikokudo on their new shop opening, we thought we were trailblazers in tasting authentic Hokkaido ramen which was halal! We were so excited and I chatted a little with our friendly waitress!
Me: Wow this is so exciting!!! Did you guys just open? Is the main chef here? Is this really ramen from Hokkaido???
Waitress: Urmm…actually we have other outlets here in Singapore for a few years now. We are not exactly new.
Me: What!!!! Hahhahaa. Sorry, I don’t eat out much.
How embarrassing! I guess I’m really not a trailblazer in terms of food, but to compensate this shortcoming, I promise to always give honest reviews about the food I eat!
The menu was massive so we took a rather long time to decide on our final orders. Here are the food we tried!
1. Ichikokudo Ramen (Light Rich), $9.90
I didn’t read the menu properly and I was so disappointed that I did not have Aosa seaweed in my ramen bowl like my friends did. Instead of Aosa seaweed, my ramen greens were spinach.
Admittedly, spinach and bamboo shoots are indeed better complements for a lighter broth as compared to Aosa which tastes the best in an oilier and saltier broth.
We had a taste test of all our orders and we all agreed that my broth was the best. It had such a clean, savoury taste that would keep you drinking till its very last drop!
The thin noodles are al dente. I personally love thin noodles for soup ramen as they have a firmer bite and carry the delicious broth with every slurp.
Ichikokudo‘s chicken chashu is really quite noteworthy. The chicken did not have annoying chicken skin rolled inside the meat and was firm enough to hold with chopsticks, only breaking apart nicely in your mouth.
The Ramen egg was also done very nicely. Ichikokudo’s version of ajitsuke tamago is well-marinated right down to the centre of the yolk, with the yolk being perfectly gooey and custardy in the middle.
At $9.90 a bowl, Ichikokudo Ramen (Light Rich) is of excellent value. You don’t have to add any extra money for the egg like many ramen restaurants require you to. Toppings are generous. Broth and noodles are slurpi-licious. I believe you won’t be able to find such delicious and value-for-money Hokkaido ramen at any other Japanese restaurant in Singapore!
2. Ichikokudo Ramen (Regular Rich), $10.90
I remember feeling blown away by how rich and flavourful chicken-based soup can be when I tasted the broth of this bowl!
I used to work at a Japanese ramen shop which was famous and well-loved for their chicken broth ramen (not halal). Many customers also couldn’t believe how rich chicken soup can be, but actually, we do use some pork in the broth.
This Regular Rich bowl does remind me a little of the broth at my ex-working place, which is why I was rather impressed because this place, being a halal establishment, definitely doesn’t use any pork in their soup!
I happily informed my 2 Muslim friends who have never eaten non-halal ramen before that this ramen tasted very close to how regular Japanese ramen tasted like, and that they aren’t missing out too much if this is how all halal ramen tastes like.
Ichikokudo Ramen (Regular Rich) is not just a clumsy, salty bowl that many local imitations serve at a cheaper price tag. $10.90 is rather reasonable because you get quite a substantial amount of chashu; you get the flavourful egg, and most importantly, you get the very expensive and nutritious Aosa seaweed (HAHA. Oh, my love for Aosa!). It is just $1 more than Light Rich, so I think the Regular Rich is very value-for-money indeed!
3. Ichi-Ramen Gifts from the Sea, $19.90
This is one visually luxurious bowl of ramen! The broth tasted significantly different from the above 2 bowls. It is a lighter broth compared to Regular Rich and the addition of bountiful seafood gave the broth some savoury sweetness!
According to my friend who ordered this, the seafood is very fresh. If you feel like going big because you are feeling rich, go for this!
4. Karaage Set, $4.50
Having eaten really lousy and forgettable Karaage in most local ramen restaurants, I just didn’t give any thought about adding on such gimmicky sets to my ramen order.
My friends did though! They also generously offered me a piece each from their sets. And oh my! This Karaage is really not bad at all! Crispy, well-marinated and no gross pale chicken skin or tendons within the entire fried piece of chicken. I love it!
5. Grilled Gyoza Set, $4.50
Similarly, how many disappointing over-fried miserably-filled gyozas have we eaten when they come in a set with ramen?
I really like how Ichikokudo treats their side orders seriously! Their gyozas aren’t drenched in oil nor grilled until they are hard and shrunken.
And the gyoza fillings! If I weren’t eating Japanese food with my Muslim friends, I wouldn’t even have remembered that this is a halal establishment! The chicken meat filling of the gyoza was juicy and flavourful. The gyoza is very good on its own. You don’t need to add any condiments to it.
Both the gyozas and the karaage are very good and worthy sets to add on. These sets also come with sliced watermelons which are so rare in any local Japanese restaurants/stalls now. Nowadays, most places serve sour orange slices which nobody wants. Or watermelons sliced so thin that you feel like grabbing the restaurant owner’s collar and asking, “WHAT’S THE POINT???”
Lunch was very fulfilling indeed! Ichikokudo also serves donburis (rice bowls) and tomato ramen! I love rice and I love tomatoes, and seeing how my two friends had really enjoyed their meal here as well, I am most likely to suggest and return to this place when I’m dining with my Muslim friends again!
Ichikokudo Hokkaido Ramen
Address: 45 Bussorah St, Singapore 199463
Nearest MRT Station: Bugis
Sunday to Thursday: 11am to 11pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am to 12am