Best Ramen in Singapore Contender #6: Menya Shinchan: Have you got what it takes to be a Ramen Jiro Hero?

This Stall is Closed
Shoyu Ramen $11

You know that I have a soft spot for hawkers uncles and aunties with lots of passion about their food right?  Well, when it comes to Ramen, there are very few places where you would find a Ramen uncle who is so passionate about Ramen that he would actually make his own noodles and would personally supervise the bowls of Ramen that are being prepared in his kitchen.



Tajima-san - my Ramen Shifu

Tajima-san used to be the President of the Ramen association of his company which meant that he and his bunch of Ramen devotees would go round Japan looking for the the best of the best Ramen.  That is one of the reasons why he offers so many different styles of Ramen at his restaurant.  Basically, he is just serving the Ramen that he loves to eat.  I had the privilege of learning about Ramen from the man who I consider to be an authority on Ramen.  There was no other means of getting the information I wanted otherwise.  I had even gone down to Kinokuniya to look for a book on Ramen, but there was none.  Aside from a few English websites on Ramen, there are no other resources on Ramen that I could get my hands on.


Homemade noodles are Menya Shinchan

Tajima-san tells me that the older generation of Japanese prefer the Shoyu style clear soup Ramen which is Tokyo style Ramen.  The very first dedicated Ramen restaurant, Rairaiken, in the Asakusa district of Tokyo was first to introduce this style of Ramen to the Japanese.  This Ramen is very light and consist of thin noodles in a bath of clear Niboshi (Japanese Anchovy ie Ikan Bilis) based consomme.

In my previous post, I posted the video of the Ramen master teaching his disciple how to eat Ramen.  The scene came from the 1985 Japanese comedy, Tampopo.  I wanted to re-create that scene by asking how Tajima-san would eat a bowl of Ramen, and this is what he told me:

Before you do anything else, you need to smell the steaming bowl of noodles first.  That way you get to appreciate the fragrance of the flour and the anchovies emanating from the steam and it also helps clear your sinuses at the same time.  Next you take a sip of the soup and savour the delicate flavour of the sea.  Then, you slurp the noodles, taking a bite of the chashu in between slurps.  You should finish the bowl in 5 minutes or the noodles will become too soggy.  Lastly, hold the soup bowl with two hands and finish off all the soup and then let out a sigh of satisfaction.

I never learnt to enjoy Shoyu based Ramen until I ate the version at Menya Shinchan.  Now I can safely say that I know why the Tokyoites love their Ramen.  The aroma of the Niboshi is so strong (almost a bit too strong) that you can smell it before it hits your table and the soup is light and fragrant as are the thin noodles.  The Shoyu based Ramen is the Ramen of choice for the older generation as it is what they grew up with.  The younger generation like a different style of Ramen which is heavier and more robust.


The Sinjiro $13

Menya Shinchan is one of the few places I know of in Singapore that serves Ramen Jiro.  In case you don't know, Ramen Jiro has a near cultish following in Japan.  It is the Japanese equivalent of a triple pattie cheeseburger with the works.

Ramen Jiro first started in the town of Mita as a Ramen Shop catering to the students of Keio University.  As you can imagine, University Students have large appetites and very little money, so Ramen Jiro is basically a darn big bowl of affordable Ramen.  But over time, it became THE big bowl of Ramen to the extent that if you are able to finish a bowl of Ramen Jiro, you would get looks of admiration from the other patrons of the Restaurant.  Yes, Ramen Jiro is not something to savour, it is something to conquer if you want to be a Ramen Jiro Hero.

Young men would line up outside the stall to take up the challenge of finishing the Ramen Jiro without throwing up in the restaurant after the meal.  You don't just rock up to eat Ramen Jiro, you have to plan carefully for it.  If you are eating Ramen Jiro for lunch, make sure you don't have breakfast.  They advise that if you are planning to have Ramen Jiro that day, you should prep yourself by eating a Nishi pear before the meal.  The pear has digestive enzymes which will help digest the gigantic meal.  Incidentally, that is also why they add pear juice to bulgolgi marinade as it acts as a meat tenderizer.

Aerial View of Sinjiro showing the abura (pork fat)


The Jiro does not conform to any of the styles of Ramen around Japan.  In fact, some Japanese don't even consider Ramen Jiro as "Ramen".  It is simply Jiro and there is nothing to compare it with. The soup base is not your  creamy Tonkotsu soup. Instead, it is a semi clear rich Pork bone soup with bits of abura (small pieces of fat) suspended in it.  Then there is the huge serving of chewy noodles supporting a Atlas sized mound of beansprouts and cabbage leaves.  It looks like a snow capped Mount Fuji when it arrives on your table.

I forgot to ask Tajima-san why his is called "Sinjiro" rather than Ramen Jiro, but I suspect that it might be because it is the shorten version of Singapore Jiro. Ladies, don't despair, the Sinjiro comes in two sizes like it does in Japan.  You can order "Shou" (small) or "Dai" (large).   I can tell you that I have problems finishing even the "Shou".  It is not something I should be proud of and if my Jiro mates knew about it, I would be teased to no end.

There is so much lore surrounding this Ramen that I would refer you to this very interesting audio where you can hear this Japanese chap recounting his Jiro experience as well as this excellent post by Rameniac. Do this research before you gather a few friends to take up the Jiro challenge and I guarantee that you are going to have a really fun Ramen session!

Tsukemen Ramen with rich pork broth $13

Now I come to the best part of Menya Shinchan.  I have eaten quite a few Ramen in my quest to find the best Ramen experience in Singapore and I have often said that there has yet been one Ramen which gave me the same eye opening experience as the first time I ate Katong Laksa years ago.  Yes Ramen is great and it is very tasty but there has so far not been one which could bring me to the brink of uttering the expletive "Shiok!" until now.


Rich, bonito flavoured dipping sauce with morsels of Charshu

This is my first encounter with the Tsukemen.  Essentially, it is a bowl of chewy, toothy, cold noodles which is served with a dipping sauce which has bits of Charshu submerged in a thick and rich concentrated pork broth scented heavily with Bonito flakes with a gratuitus dollop of pork lard.  This is NOT a dipping sauce that you would want to finish unless you want to give your cardiologist some immediate business. Enough said, the only word to describe it is "Shiok!"
Tokyo Ramen:  Noodles 4.5/5, Soup 4.25/5, Charshu 4.25/5
Sinjiro:  Noodles 4.25/5, Soup 4.25/5, Charshu 4/5
Tsukemen:  Noodles 4.6/5, Dipping Sauce 4.75/5

Conclusion

Menya Shinchan is the type of stall that I like.  It is passion personified.  It is Ramen made by people who love Ramen, who live and breathe Ramen and want to convert the whole world to worship at the Shrine of  the Supreme Ramen. Discovering a restaurant like this is what this blog is all about. 

Menya Shinchan
30 Robertson Quay
#01-05 Riverside View
Singapore 238251
Tel: 67320114

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

does the Tsukemen come with slices of charshu? i'm wondering since the meat is not rated. and may i know the price too?

thanks!

ieat said...

No the dipping sauce contains pieces of Charshu inside so I did not rate it but it was really good! It is $13 per bowl.

Jyoan said...

I love every bit of this post. hahaha. From, pictures, words to Menya Shinchan. And Menya Shinchan is really good. NOW, we will really have to fight for places there. Oh no.

I will try the eyeing-my-pork method of eating on the next bowl. Keep forgetting to do it. Wonder if using the method will seriously make a difference. hahaha.

ieat said...

Thanks Jyoan! Glad you like the post! I know you already been there, why don't you give your review of the place too?

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I never knew Menya Shinchan has tsukemen too! I love the tsukemen at Santouka. Shall be hoppoing by Menya Shinchan real soon:)

Angie

Ah Mak said...

Hi Leslie,
Menya Shinchan is one of my favs too!
I order the Madame Sinjiro all the time and just to add that it usually comes as a set with ice cream!

http://cookingwithahmak.blogspot.com/2010/01/ippudo-ramen-ah-maks-must-try-list.html

:) Tracy

ieat said...

Wow I am impressed that you can finish the Madam Sinjiro! I see you have been eating quite a lot of Ramen too!

timidmuncher said...

Yay!! The fact that you can say this is one of your favorite ramen places speaks well of my preferences as well. Was wondering why my favorite ramen place was not even in the top 10 of hungrygowhere list. No matter! Your endorsement is enough!!

Sinjiro is truly awesome and it was just as good as the Ramen Jiro I had in Tokyo. For me, that speaks volumes on the quality at Menya.

Try the dry ramen (no soup!!?!) next time. pretty wicked.

God Bless! Thank you once again for trying Menya even though it wasn't on your initial list!

ieat said...

Thanks for your comment timidmuncher. Yes this is a gem and more people should know about it!

lj said...

Wow! The food seems fantastic with a high score of above 4/5. Must try one day

Ah Mak said...

Yes I finish the madame sinjiro but I usually cheat - I ask for less beansprouts! Ramen is my comfort food so to me you'll never have enough! :D

cactuskit said...

3 of us (Liverpool, soundman and myself) tried 4 different types of ramen there and left very impressed with the quality. The portions are super generous and the price, very reasonable.

liverpool1965 said...

love the sinjiro and I don't think I can finish it in 5 minutes!

Anonymous said...

Again, there is a lot difference when I was there today (12:40pm) versus what I read from the review.

Firstly, the soup was not fantastic. Secondly, the greater sin, the "char siu" that they serve with the noodle were cold, felt like it was just taken out from the fridge. Thirdly the one who cook the noodle is a China man, and the Japanese master is no where to be seen.

Seriously, I can find better ramen in many places in Singapore. Would I go there again? The answer is a big NO.

ClearTear said...

so now we know these places has my fav tsukemen, when can i take leave from my baby to go ramen marathon -.-

Menya Shincha
santouka
miharu

Jyoan said...

Anonymous, so sorry to hear that you got cold meat.

This Tsukemen is really amazing, and has stayed within my tops after so many bowls of ramen. (This was one of my first, first being Ippudo, which has continually been pushed downwards as I find nicer and nicer ramen.)

The noodle is the thickest I've come across so far, with rectangular cross section that are slightly rounded at the corners. They are very chewy, and took me some 10+ bites to break. They already have some taste when eaten alone (in fact for some reason, I ate about 1/4 the cold noodles alone, don't ask me why, I prefer my food cold, and the noodles are not tasteless).

The rest of the noodles, I dipped in the sauce, and whoa! It's a wonderful balanced combination of texture in the mouth, taste and juiciness. Plus, it's even nicer when I put pieces of meat and the floss thing (which ieat says is bonito flakes) on the spoon and eat all in one mouthful.

The sauce itself was piping hot and had fragrances that burst out and rushing to grab your attention. It looks extremely oily, but but doesn't tastes so at all. No disgusting fatty smell or taste. I wanted to drink it up if not my eyes tell me not to.

Together with the rather authentic settings of the shop (wouldn't really call it a restaurant), the Tsukemen is one of the most well-balanced bowl, with nothing I can fault, other than my own food preference for less chewy noodles (I prefer to break the noodle within 3 bites).

The other must try is the gyoza. Best handmade one with lots of green onions, not unwanted fatty minced pork. And the way they serve it in again very well-balanced sauce, is heavenly. Don't miss the gyoza!

It is one of the few places I know I must go back to try all the types of ramen they serve. =)

Jyoan said...

Hesitated to review in the comment, because I know I have so much to say. Finally decided on an appropriate summary, but I forgot the egg!

Menya Shinchan has one of the best eggs around too. =) Apart from being tasty, the white is almost totally hard, maybe 98%? But the yolk is amazingly only some 80% hard...

Most of the ramen eggs are equally uncooked for both white and yolk, in a sense, you can suck out the liquid white together with liquid egg, such as the one at Baikohken or O-An. Santouka has a very uncooked version, in which the yolk totally flows when you tilt the egg as little as 20 degrees. All these 3 are nice as well, but I am just amazed at how Menya Shinchan can cook the white and yolk quite unevenly.

Anonymous said...

I was hugely impressed by this post. Yes, the last few posts of other ramen-yas are good, but ieat didn't sing as much praises as this. Really looking forward to trying this out. A little apprehensive though after reading one of the anon posts that it was not as fantastic as it seemed and pls, not another ramen cooked by china man, that will liken it to foodcourt standard. geez.. anyway, guess the only way to know is to try it myself. hope to make a trip there this weekend! :)

Thanks ieat, keep more reviews of ramens coming!

ieat said...

Thanks for your comments Anonymous. I hope you will not be dissappointed. There are actually a lot more people who also like Menya Shinchan which is why I went to review them.

I think that the right mindset is important when you eat at any place. With Ramen, too many people go to Ramen-yas expecting tonkotsu ramen. If you try to compare Ramen Sinjiro with Santouka's Shio Ramen, then you are likely to be dissappointed because they are very different. However, if you go try Sinjiro knowing that this is a cult Ramen in Japan and you can't get it anywhere else in Singapore, then you might be very pleased.

I hope you have a positive experience at Menya Shinchan this weekend!

PS: Do coin a nickname for yourself so we know it is you that are commenting.

Ken said...

Do try their Spicy Miso Mazesoba too! This is my fave noodle from Menya Shinchan, followed by their tsukemen.

YY said...

You finally went to review Menya Shinchan =D We eat there almost every week and I am happy to know that you enjoyed their ramen too.

Glad they are getting more attention now!

Mike said...

Thanks to this review, today I was suddenly inspired to head down to try the Shinjiro - was thinking of where to get a buffet (!) actually, as I was hungry after cycling for two hours.

During my shortish time the majority of customers ordered either the Madame Shinjiro or the Shinjiro. There's also a sizeable Japanese crowd.

I concur with another comment that the chashu was cold. But other than that everything was as expected.

Would definitely want to try the tsukemen next time.

I cycled back home, stood on the weighing scales.. and found that I gained weight! Must be the Shinjiro, despite all the sweat :P

ieat said...

Ahhh! You finished the Sinjiro? You the Sinjiro Hero!

gourmandtales said...

i particularly loved the uniqueness of this ramen place
http://gourmandtales.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/menya-shinchan-robertson-quay-singapore/

Alvin said...

Went for the Sinjiro today. I ate everything and slurrrrpped every bit of the soup! I must say it was quite menacing, the first sight of it, however, I would never waste good food! I must say I was not blown away, but I always appreciate trail blazers like ieat who pave the way for adventurous foodies like me to try it out for myself. Honestly, I was put off by the overwhelming portion of vegetables, I wonder if I could order Sinjiro "kosong" or Sinjiro with much less vege? The noodles were great and the soup was tasty. Not the Santouka kinda tasty but more "cheng". I found Santouka to be a tad salty and left me thirsty for many hours after that. Again thats MY point of view. =]

ieat, I wonder if you know about an article about amateur food bloggers in Today 2 days ago? You were mentioned in the article. However, what puzzles me is the term "amateur". You are certainly not "amateur" considering the number of years I have followed your blog. My question is, what is professional then? You are a doctor by profession, so would the blog about your clinic be accorded professional status? You are a professional blogger as far as I know it.

Thanks for constantly blazing the trail. More "cultish" food to come please!

Blessings.

ice said...

Yes I totally concur with Alvin. Leslie is definitely not the amateur blogger quoted in the article, same for the Sydney Morning Herald.

ieat said...

Thanks guys for your support! I think that a professional blogger is someone who does this for a living. As such, the blog still cannot feed the family, so it will always be a hobby for me. I am glad to be able to use it to raise support for Charities like Goducate too and that brings a lot of satisfaction. Perhaps one day I might turn professional. Who knows? But I love my work too much as a doctor to give up seeing my patients. But pushing the boundaries does give me a buzz. And certainly, writing about foods like Sinjiro is very satisfying. But credit must also be given to all my readers who write in to tell me about these lobangs. I am simply a reporter and certainly no guru.

Jyoan said...

Ate the Sinjiro the other day, as usual, I really like the broth. haha, but since I don't like bean sprouts, I was actually trying to look for the noodles to finish. LOL. As ieat posted, this is a big bowl of the simplest food to fill the stomach.

I also like the noodles in hot soup better, as they are at the right chewiness for me, as compared to Tsukemen, nice but may be a little over with the chew. Maybe that was the first bowl, but I still prefer Tsukemen. Love it a lot.

Jack said...

a friend brought me to menya last yr, and has remained my fav ramen place ever since. he was doing research on ramen jiro on japan when he realised that menya has it too!

we went down, and each ordered a bowl of sinjiro WITH EXTRA VEGGIES AND CHARSIU. waitress was like, wtf it's gonna be a lot. hell yea. when it came it was literally a mountain, the waitress gave us an extra bowl without which it would have been impossible to even begin tackling it.

managed to finish the whole thing and tajima-san must have been alerted to our presence with that crazy order, cos he came out and met us after that. hahaha.

great as it was, after eating that entire bowl i felt a bit sick. i still frequent the place, but not for the sinjiro anymore.

ieat said...

That's a wonderful story Jack! Thanks for sharing!

tequila said...

I'm hoping to try this on a friday nite, but can someone advise me if there will be a long Q?

Looking at ieat's photos, it looks like an eat & go place?

Anonymous said...

Am a Jiro fan, so wonder where are other shops that server Jiro in SG?

jmom said...

hi ieat,
I previously posted the comment on how much I look forward to trying the ramen myself, and I want to tell you, we finally went!

Went there on Saturday with hb and was pleasantly surprised to find it situated at a small cozy corner, with a few big ramen signs, just the sight where good ramens can be found.

I 'conned' my hb to order the shinjiro and I had the tsukemen to myself..woo hoo (cos he didn't read ieat). Both were very good in their own right. I love the hot soup with mouthfuls of crunchy vegs, and the flavourful tsukemen. the chashu in both were good, soft at every bite. The only minor problem I had was the chashu in tsukemen was half lean and half fat! That was much higher than my fats tolerance (since I'm trying hard to diet).

Finally found another wonderful ramen place! I'm so thankful... thank you ieat for bringing good food to us (virtually). *thumbs up*

ieat said...

Thanks for your comment jmom! Glad you enjoyed the ramen. I can see who is in control in your family. :) Hope to hear more from you.

Lin said...

I actually finished the entire bowl of Madame Sinjiro (without asking for a reduce in any ingredient), on my own. (I'm a female reader btw.)
So it is not that alot, noodle is not that much, what is loadful is actually the bean sprout.

Anonymous said...

the ramen was good at this place once a upon a time, unfortunately, new staff in the kitchen and front has cause this place to go downhill...the lousy service outweighs the food, so i won't be going back...also the shinjiro has way too much sprouts and cabbage.

Joey said...

Just to update, they have closed down since nov 2011.

ieat said...

Thanks Joey!

getmygrubon said...

Oh no!!!! That looks delicious and I missed it! :(

Leonard Lim said...

The Tsukemen beats ALL other ramen hands down. I'm an avid fan of the Tsukemen and travel to japan frequently for it. One of the most famous being from the Ikemen Dipping Ramen, Hollywood. It is a force by it's own in Japan itself. Tsukemen all the way!

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