Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?

Psst: there’s an Express line where you can da bao your ramen and eat at one of the standing tables.

Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?
Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?
03 Oct 2019

Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?

In Japan, or any part of the world for that matter, long queues outside Ichiran are a common sight - and it was no different at its pop-up at Takashimaya’s Japan Food Matsuri on the opening day of the fair today (Oct 3), as diners vied for a  spot at the popular ramen chain’s single pax eight-seater booth.

With only 700 bowls of tonkotsu ramen served daily, the line started forming even before the fair opened to the public at 10am and had snaked past Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao by 11am, so expect at least an hour's wait for your seat.

Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?
Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?
03 Oct 2019

Ichiran pop-up in Singapore: is it worth queuing for?

Once you place your order at the cashier, take your ticket to your seat - which is partitioned by dividers - and hand it to the staff behind the screen. Unlike the dividers at Ichiran stores elsewhere, these are not collapsible so you’d have to lean back if you wish to chat with your meal buddies.

If you don’t mind not having the full Ichiran experience, there’s also the Express line where you can da bao your ramen and eat at one of the standing tables at the fair.

The noodles
The noodles
03 Oct 2019

The noodles

For $12, you get a piping hot bowl of ramen made from the brand’s New York Limited instant packs and served with green onions, wood ear mushrooms, and a sprinkling of spicy seasoning powder.

The portions are smaller than what you get at full-fledged Ichiran outlets and are served in a disposable Styrofoam bowl. You can’t customise your noodles or get extra toppings, but you will be given a packet of spicy seasoning to add to your ramen if you prefer it with a spicy kick.

Not that it needed any extra bells and whistles. The pork broth was rich, intense, and full of umami flavours. We heard our neighbour on the other side of the divider comment that it was a tad salty, but we usually opt for the maximum level of richness for the broth, so for us this was close to perfection.

Our only complaint is that the noodles were not as al dente as we’d like, but still slurp-worthy nonetheless. Despite sweating buckets, we lapped up every bit of the broth.

Some might baulk at the idea of paying $12 for a bowl of instant ramen, but it works out to be around the same price as buying the boxed instant noodles ($35 for 3 packets) and cooking it yourself. Plus, it tastes pretty close to the real deal.

So is it worth the queue? Yes, but only for the Express line. The queue is not only shorter, but also moves much faster. And you won’t find yourself getting annoyed by photo-taking diners who spend more time snapping pics of their food than eating it.

Read on for more exclusive eats at Japan Food Matsuri.

Japan Food Matsuri runs till October 20 at Takashimaya Square, Basement 2 Ngee Ann City.

Matcha Cheese Tart from Bake ($3.90)
Matcha Cheese Tart from Bake ($3.90)
03 Oct 2019

Matcha Cheese Tart from Bake ($3.90)

Hokkaido’s Bake Cheese Tart may be closing shop in Singapore at the end of this month but you can still try their limited edition Matcha cheese tart at the fair. Freshly baked on site with matcha from Ippodo, a well-established green tea specialist in Kyoto, the creamy tarts are exclusively available to the fair.

Kani King rice roll ($11)
Kani King rice roll ($11)
03 Oct 2019

Kani King rice roll ($11)

For a taste of the sea, try Kani King’s signature rice roll, which kinda looks like a palm-sized crab nigiri. Cooked in crab stock, the rice is lightly flavoured with soy sauce and topped with a layer of sweet, juicy, shredded Hokkaido crab.

Available till Oct 12.

Zaku Zaku’s Croquant Chou (from $2.80) and soft serve ice cream ($6)
Zaku Zaku’s Croquant Chou (from $2.80) and soft serve ice cream ($6)
03 Oct 2019

Zaku Zaku’s Croquant Chou (from $2.80) and soft serve ice cream ($6)

Here’s your chance to try Zaku Zaku’s soft serve and iconic custard- or ice cream-filled stick cream puff before the brand opens shop at ION Orchard (it will be taking over Bake’s space at Basement 4). The Croquant Chou (custard) is their bestseller but we recommend going for the Hiyazaku (Hokkaido milk soft serve) which is the perfect treat after a bowl of piping hot ramen.

Mao Shan Durian Mochi Obanyaki from Maruamami ($5.50, 3 for $15)
Mao Shan Durian Mochi Obanyaki from Maruamami ($5.50, 3 for $15)
03 Oct 2019

Mao Shan Durian Mochi Obanyaki from Maruamami ($5.50, 3 for $15)

Maruamami has returned with a new flavour and this year, it has created the Mao Shan Durian just for Japan Food Matsuri. Made with pure mao shan wang flesh, the mochi obanyaki is luscious and super chewy. Other popular flavours include red bean and purple sweet potato ($3.50 each).

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