Monday, October 30, 2017

Ajisai Japanese Ramen at Yishun Park Hawker Centre

Chef Saito Hiroli, 74, is in charge of this Japanese Ramen stall in this slightly more than a month old Hawker Centre. He was born Tokyo in Japan and he entered the kitchen at 26 years old working at a Japanese gastropub in Osaka for a decade. After this, he went to Los Angeles in the United States of America and worked in a Japanese restaurant before leaving for Hong Kong then went to Sydney as well as other Asian cities before coming to Singapore in 1993. He worked as an executive chef in the hotel and also ran his gastropub together with a Japanese stall in a food court. He met Vincent Ng, 52, that ran a Chinese mixed-rice stall in the food court and both of them became friends. And, Vincent managed to convince Chef Saito to come out of his retirement and set up this stall together. 

This stall is supposed to serve Japanese food at affordable prices and with no authenticity sacrificed. Chef Saito was there when I ordered the Ajisai Miso Ramen at $5.50, the most expensive item on their menu. There are also Pork Chashu Ramen ($3.50), Chicken Ramen ($3.50), Tempura Ramen ($3.50), Jia Jia Ramen (Dry) ($3.50), Miso Ramen ($4.50), Ajisai Ramen ($5.00) and Plain Ramen ($2.50) on the menu. Some items like different types of Donburi and Japanese Curry as well as Garlic Fried Rice are marked as "Sold Out" on their menu. 

I waited for about quite a while for the order to be taken and waited for another 8 minutes or so before receiving the order as there was an order of 3 bowls of ramen before me. The Ajisai Miso Ramen came with half of the ajitama with a small piece of charsu that had more fat than meat, together with some sweet corns, wakame seaweed, fried chicken, and pork. The texture of ramen was pretty firm though with a kind of rubbery resistance which I did not quite like and the miso taste was just too strong. 

I decided to give it another try as I was not too convinced that this should be their usual standard since they have an experienced Japanese chef to oversee the cooking process. I ordered the Pork Chashu Ramen ($3.50) this time. While waiting for the order to be ready, I took notice of those blocks of braised pork belly on a plate that was placed in the glass display shelf, instead of being rolled and tied up the pork belly, it was just blocks of pork belly with a few pieces of string in between to hold its shape. And, that explained why I initially thought it was just half a piece of charshu as it was much smaller in size. 

I was expecting it to be served in tonkotsu broth but it was shoyu instead, it is clearly indicated beside the Pork Chashu Ramen, which has listed as A1 on their menu but I did not notice it when ordering. It fared slightly better than the Ajisai Miso Ramen that I had yesterday. It is served in clear dark broth, flavored with soy sauce with half of the ajitama, a piece of small charsu and kombu. 

The ramen was cooked to the al-dente texture and the ajitama egg was done just right, the chashu has a better lean-to-fat ratio this time. It was not too bad for just $3.50 and I should not be comparing nor complaining at all.

This is not the best of the hawker-style Japanese Ramen that I had tasted,  though this is likely to be the cheapest in Singapore for shoyu ramen.

51 Yishun Avenue 11 #01-42 Yishun Park Hawker Centre SINGAPORE 768867
Operating Hours: 11.00 am to 9.00 pm (Tuesday to Friday) / 
9.00 am to 9.00 pm (Saturday, Sunday & Public Holiday)

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