Nowadays, local coffee shops aren’t limited to the same old classic dishes like chicken rice, nasi lemak and prata. Newer coffee shops and hawker stalls are starting to pop up with more restaurant-like dishes, with one such stall being Mr Ramen.
Located within K88 Kopitiam in Chinatown, I was greeted by an incredibly vibrant space housing brightly lit stalls. I found Mr Ramen tucked away in the corner of the coffee shop, boasting a vibrant storefront that proudly displayed its Japanese dishes.
My attention was immediately caught by the incredibly unique ramen offerings, including varieties like truffle and laksa, amid more regular ones like miso and tonkotsu.
With no social media or internet presence, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mr Ramen. I had absolutely no idea on whether the dishes would impress me, or if they would leave me sorely disappointed. There was only one way to find out, and that was to try them out for myself.
What I tried at Mr Ramen
I started off with Mr Ramen’s Spicy Laksa Ramen (S$7.90), an interesting dish fusing Japanese and local flavours into one. Initially, when I saw this on the menu, I was sceptical and had a feeling that Mr Ramen would simply pass off a regular bowl of spicy ramen as laksa. Thankfully, I was proven wrong.
Served with ramen noodles, two slices of cha siu and half an onsen egg swimming in a pool of bright red laksa gravy, the Spicy Laksa Ramen was a sight to behold.
I was not at all let down by the laksa elements of this dish. The laksa gravy was incredibly aromatic with the fragrance of coconut milk. It had a thick consistency, making it extra satisfying and rich in flavour. The gravy was spicy enough to satisfy my spice cravings without burning my mouth, making it perfect to slurp down easily.
The ramen noodles, on the other hand, were soft and springy. The noodles, together with the cha siu slices, absorbed the laksa gravy nicely. I enjoyed how the Spicy Laksa Ramen was a perfect fusion of two cuisines. Despite the strength of the laksa gravy, this dish still managed to showcase its Japanese elements through the addition of the classic cha siu slices and onsen egg.
This was possibly one of the best laksa dishes I have tried. Though it is considerably more expensive than your regular bowl of local laksa, the exciting fusion elements and incredible flavours of this Spicy Laksa Ramen justify the price.
Next, I had the Truffle Ramen (S$11.90), aka the dish that compelled me to write a review about Mr Ramen to begin with.
Truffle was one of the few ingredients that I would never have expected to find in a coffee shop stall, given its status as a more atas product. Hence, I honestly expected the Truffle Ramen to disappoint me with a weak truffle taste. Boy, was I wrong.
Right from the moment that I walked up to the stall to pick up my dishes, I was hit with a strong truffle scent that lingered in the air throughout my entire time dining in the coffee shop. Aside from the generous dollop of truffle paste on the noodles, I also noticed a ring of oil around the soup, which I assumed to be truffle oil.
Served with cha siu, bamboo shoots, truffle paste and an onsen egg, the Truffle Ramen was decently more loaded with ingredients than the Spicy Laksa Ramen. The soup was clear and runny, and much to my delight, the truffle taste was incredibly strong.
Even without mixing the truffle paste in, the soup managed to deliver a rich, evident truffle aroma all on its own.
The cha siu slices were soft and tender, absorbing the truffle scent from the soup well. Though on their own, they err-ed towards the blander side, but the more flavourful elements compensated for it nicely.
Like the Spicy Laksa Ramen, the noodles in the Truffle Ramen were soft, springy and delightful to eat. They were slippery and well-cooked, and tasted almost like restaurant quality.
Overall, I was tremendously impressed by Mr Ramen’s ramen offerings. Though I had my doubts at first, I am glad to announce that Mr Ramen surprised me with its quality noodle bowls.
To end off my meal, I tried Mr Ramen’s Katsu Pork Cutlet Rice Bowl (S$9.90), which was served with a pork cutlet, an omelette, teriyaki sauce and a side of mixed vegetables. Visually, I loved how vibrant and colourful the rice bowl was. A+ for presentation!
The fried pork cutlet was incredibly tender. Its texture was so soft that I almost thought it was actually fish meat. With a lovely, crispy breaded exterior to complement the softness of the meat, I really liked Mr Ramen’s pork cutlet.
The omelette was soft and well-cooked, and the mixed vegetables were tasty and well-seasoned to provide the dish with some much needed saltiness. However, I found the rice itself to be quite dry with not enough teriyaki sauce. As such, some mouthfuls felt a little bland.
With all its other elements tasting stellar, all this Katsu Pork Cutlet Rice Bowl needs is a bit more sauce to make it a fantastic dish.
Mr Ramen’s dishes are on the pricier side for coffee shop food, but after having tried them, I was incredibly impressed and was definitely not let down at all. The creativity of the dishes did not disappoint, and the Truffle Ramen was especially remarkable, given how unexpectedly strong the truffle taste was.
To me, Mr Ramen has set the bar a little higher for new coffee shop and hawker stalls.
Expected damage: S$8 – S$15 per pax
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