Previously located at Parco Marina Bay at Millenia Walk, we hear that Nansuttei is finally set to open its new branch Orchard Central. Many fans have missed Nantsuttei's presence in the ramen market because of their signature Black Ma-yu, roasted garlic, and an unforgettable sesame oil blend that coats the whole bowl of ramen.
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I was all hyped up when my friend recommended this ramen place to me. I was excited to try it as an important question lingered in my head - will it beat my all-time favourite Keisuke ramen? We placed our orders, with me making mental notes repeatedly to ask the waiter to omit the bean sprouts from my bowl. If you like bean sprouts, good for you. They're extremely generous with them (yucks).
In no time, our ramen arrived and I took my first sip of the broth in anticipation. At first look, the broth looked different - an unwelcoming black puddle, something that I would never have tried if not for my friend. After my first sip, I thought it tasted rather similar to Keisuke's broth, with Keisuke's one being slight richer and more appealing to my senses. Noodles-wise, I would think this restaurant serves more springy noodles which were more chewy.
However, prices here are steeper compared to Keisuke's, not to mention the lack of free flow eggs. Broth, to me, is the crux to ramen - in this aspect, I would have to go for Keisuke.
My first time at nantsuttei was the first time I stopped seeing ramen as glorified, overpriced instant noodles and started appreciating how complex the anatomy of a good bowl of noodles is. In the great ramen debate that Singaporeans love to have, I always, always tout Nantsuttei as the best. It is my personal favourite of of the many dozen bowls I have tried. Simply put, they make very, very good ramen.
The noodles are of the firm variety (which is what I personally prefer), and the marinated beansprouts are fresh and crispy, though not as generous as other ramen restaurants which allow you to help yourself to the beansprouts free flow! The chashu has never disappointed me - the meat used is lean and thick, with a strong smoky chashu flavour adored by legions of ramen fans. And need I mention the broth? It is thick, milky, creamy, oily, fragrant all at once, which delivers the winning blow to all competition. I have not tasted anything which can come close in all the other ramen restaurants, which solidifies this restaurant's top position in my mental ranking list.
#1 Don't drink too much of the soup.
While the soup is what brings the bowl of ramen above the notch of awesome, try not to drink more than one bowl of it. The broth is very rich, very flavourful, and can be very addictive, but it is also very salty! My dining partner was so enamored with the broth that he drank all his soup, and had mine too. He starting shaking a little after that, much like a small hypertension fit. Be careful! But don't let this deter you - in fact, the lengths people will go to just to have one more sip should be a testament to its deliciousness.
#2 Top up for the egg.
Nantsuttei is where I had my first ramen egg, and I've been engaged in that love affair every since. It costs an additional $1.50 (if it does not already come with your noodles), but I would say it's worth every cent. I like to leave my egg for last, and savour every bite of the oozing, runny egg yolk marinated to perfection.
Many people I have engaged with in the great ramen debate have never heard of Nantsuttei, which is surprising and worrying to me! Don't miss out on at least trying this succulent bowl of goodness the next time you are in the area. It changed my life perspective of ramen, and despite its growing popularity, I still feel that it is underrated.
If you need another convincing reason - this shop is popular among actual Japanese people! I have seen them many times in the queue. If their local countrymen eat here, it must be pretty authentic, right?