Just a week ago, I was next door sampling the offerings of Saboten at their newest outlet housed in the quiet enclaves of the Orchard Central basement levels. The opening of Chabuton was a welcomed diversity to the area, the bright white furnishings of the establishment suggesting a focus on food rather than creating a chic ambiance.
Impressive credentials have driven swarms of Ramen hungry fans to its doors in the first few weeks of its start-up in Singapore and I trod lightly around the media rave and heavy publicity. Only with a slight plea from S prompted me to make an early trip on a weekend before the lines formed. Spearheaded by Chef Yasuji Morizumi, the restaurant demands respect with the first ever Michelin star being awarded to his Ramen restaurant. I arrived at its doors with a wall of expectations and vacant stomach.
Perusing the predictable menu at lightning speed, I decidedly placed my bets on the signature Chabuton Tonkatsu Ramen ($8.30 for small/ $11.90 for large) while S opted for his usual miso version, the Chabuton Miso Ramen ( $8.60 for small/ $12.40 for large). For an additional $3.00, we got our mandatory side order of soft boiled egg and Buta Kakuni (Japanese Braised Pork Belly).
Service was attentive but yet lacking in the sincerity you often find with Japanese hospitality. Our dishes, or rather our steaming bowls of noodles reached the table at lightning speed whilst the sides crept like tortoises to the bar at various stages of our meal. My Tonkatsu ramen looked every bit the picture perfect representation of a comforting bowl of goodness, unfortunately, it fell short with the noodles perhaps a tad too eggy and chewy. The hint of alkaline on the finishing cheapening the dish altogether. The soup base was deficient in natural pork bone richness, possessing an over salted quality. All was forgotten when I bit into the char-siu, its smoky tenderness reflecting the chef's mastery of flavors. I wish there was more of that as the soft boiled egg and buta kakuni missed the mark with it's hard-boiled interiors and the latter falling flat with a chewy texture that required at least another 4 hours of braising to achieve that level of delicateness.
The Restaurant's recent opening seems to draw in a never ending spate of customers into their dining room. All embracing high hopes for the ramen, as much as I would consider the affordable prices to be a major draw factor, I reckon a meal here leaves much to be desired. There are too many unmistakable misses in execution and quality that requires immediate rectification in order to keep it's following as it settles into it's Orchard Central Perch. I shall be back in a couple of months...
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