Central is the new (actually not so new already) hip place that is rising in popularity for its variety of japanese restaurants, some of which are making their first appearance in Singapore. Ramen Santouka is tucked in a corner of Central which might be easily missed out if you don't know your way there, but its position could be seen clearly from the outside of the mall, facing the Singapore river.
The restaurant is a fairly small one, housing less than 30 diners at one time. But I would say its normal for a ramen restaurant to have such capacity, given that each ramen is cooked upon order and served quickly, much like the ramen eateries I experienced in Tokyo a few years back.
Service was Japanese-like, friendly and efficient. What I like was that every table has its own flask of ice water, serviettes and condiments, saving the inconvenience (and sometimes frustrations) from asking the staff every now and then. Another extra plus point was that the staff were attentive enough to notice that my girlfriend and I were leaving our bags on the floor, and promptly carried over a basket for us to put them in. Now that's what I call going the extra mile!
Charhan Shio Ramen Set ($15.50)
All ramen in Santouka are Tonkotsu-based (pork bones), and comes in flavour of Shio (salt), Shoyu (Soy sauce) or Miso (bean paste). The set consists of a bowl of Shio ramen, garlic fried rice and seasoned egg.
The ramen do not arrive piping hot but just of a high temperature, as explained that it would be more easily eaten and enjoyed by customers. The noodles were of great quality, clearly shown in its nice firm texture. The rich soup stock hinted many hours of simmering and I thoroughly enjoyed it to the very last drop. The topping charsiew simply melt in your mouth, with delicious bamboo shoots, kombu and fish cake. Excellent and satisfying!
The garlic fried rice was surprisingly good, japanese round rice fried with garlic, eggs and pieces of chopped charsiew, topped with seasoned pickles. Every mouthful contained the aroma and savoury flavour of the ingredients.
I would expected the egg to be slightly more runny but nevertheless, well done and good to eat. Ever try doing it a home? Do let me know if you can get the exact timing and method!
Kara Miso Ramen ($13.00)
A spicy version of the miso ramen. Good variation if you are up to something spicy. Noodle portion for both bowls were generous and you could even further upsize it. Notice that if you top up $2.50, you would be able to get the complete set already. Very value-for-money!
Bill for two was $33.50 after tax. Very worth it for its authentic taste and good service. Much better than a certain franchised restaurant all over Singapore. Come early though, or be prepared for a long queue!