One of my favourite parts about Tanjong Pagar is the sheer number of food that can be found there, beyond the fact it's right in the heart of the Central Business District and it's downtown and pretty accessible. And because it's bordering Chinatown and Outram Park, many of these food establishments are set in nice buildings and charming little spots.
Enter Ramen Keisuke, the biggest ramen chain in Singapore, founded by Japanese celebrity chef Keisuke Takeda.
Ramen Keisuke is served by 13 different concepts, and the one I'll be covering here is the Tonkotsu King branch, found at the ground level of Orchid Hotel. The other Tonkotsu King branch is in Paya Lebar in the East of Singapore. The last Tonkotsu King is in Bugis Village, which is inspired by the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and offers different tastes from the Tanjong Pagar one.
The Tanjong Pagar branch is small, and there's often a line outside where people wait for a table, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, and even on weekday nights the after work dinner crowd pours in and it's not uncommon to see the restaurant completely full.
But in my experience, even at the busiest of times (and trust me I've been here a lot), there's never been a wait that's been agonising, and a large part of this is because you send in your order sometimes even while you're in the queue.
You grab an order slip and you choose between the original, Black Spicy, or Red Spicy broth. Then you choose if you'd like any add-ons such as egg or seaweed, and you select between three degrees of noodle hardness, the amount of oil, etc. I tick normal for everything as it's the touted 'authentic Japanese taste' so there you go.
In the queue, you also get to have some complimentary iced tea while you wait which is nice, and you slowly move up to enter the restaurant.
Inside, it feels more like a watering hole type of cosy affair than a big lavish restaurant, and the prices here are beyond decent.
The most basic ramen which is sufficient starts at $10.80, and the food is served in a flash, I've never had to wait more than 5 to 10 minutes for my bowl.
It's a bit like an open-kitchen concept, except their kitchen space is equally tiny, but you get to see the chefs do their thing.
A big draw here is that eggs and bean sprouts are complimentary on the table, which makes for great value for money.
With the ramen itself, I love the creamy texture of the broth and it's heavy on flavour, and is sure to fill your tummy. The noodles are also just the right degree of hardness (or softness) in normal, and I prefer it that way. The dish is served with a side of mushroom, spring onions and chashu at the most basic too.
Above all I love that this cosy hole in the wall spot has Japanese posters and motifs plastered all over the walls, diners are about ten centimetres away from the next table at points, and it's busting and busy. It's all part of the atmosphere and makes me feel like I'm somewhere in the middle of Osaka (aka the gastronomic city of Japan) because you're also never too far away from a bar in Tanjong Pagar.
Address: 1 Tras Link #01-19 Orchid Hotel Singapore 078867
Monday to Saturday – 11.30am till 3pm / 6pm till 10.30pm
Sunday – 11.30am till 3pm / 6pm till 10pm