And so our latest adventure brings us to the city of Tanjong Pagar, just behind the Duxton flats and Tanjong Pagar MRT. Tonkotsu King, in our opinion, serves the best ramen in Singapore. You can see the queue still going strong at 8.30pm.
While waiting, a waiter will pass you a slip of paper to place your orders. The beauty of this shop is that they specialize in one type of broth – Tonkotsu (Pork Bone).
Why are there 3 options then?
Black Spicy Tonkotsu and Red Spicy Tonkotsu are basically the Tonkotsu version with added Chilli spices (Black or Red Chilli paste). The beauty about one dish restaurants is that they are really good at what they’re doing because they do the same thing day in and day out.
After a 15 minute wait, we’re ushered through the doors of Tonkotsu King. Okay, we lie. There’s no door, it’s just a cloth that’s taken as a door, just like in Japan.
Here’s the interior. The table facing the counter takes in about 3 people. There are 2 tables on the left, another 3 tables on the right. No wonder the queue is long.
However it’s a cosy place and it seems to bring you back a few decades. Looking at old Japanese posters, and a Chow Yun Fat lookalike on the left hand side of the picture.. makes you feel like a Japanese digging into a hot bowl of ramen after a hard day work in the coal mines.
Before the ramen comes, you’re free to eat as much appetizers as possible. It’s part of the package. We usually don’t eat beansprouts, this is probably the only place we both eat 3 dishes of beansprouts. Not because it’s free, but we like the marination: a mix of chili, sesame oil and salt. It complements and cover the raw taste that beansprouts normally have.
The Green Tea Cola is also a must-order. It captures the same happiness that normal Coke gives, but there’s a tinge of green tea fragrance that comes as an aftertaste. You taste the sugar, and then smell the sweetness of the green tea afterwards. They should sell this everywhere, it’ll be an instant success.
Soon after, the main dish arrives. As you can see, we spent a grand total of 1 minute taking this photo because we can’t wait anymore. The Char Siew was soft and melts in your mouth (a first!) and the noodles were springy and has adopted the taste of its surrounding soup.
The soup itself has the unmistakeable taste of umami and collagen, produced probably by boiling large amount of pork bones until it melts into a pot of delightful goodness. There is a milky taste behind the initial saltiness, creating another layer of taste and texture. I suppose there’s very little MSG added, because I don’t feel thirsty after drinking the soup.
Ramen eggs are always special because the outside somewhat taste like a mixture of egg and milk, but the inside is runny yolk. I have a special spot for runny yolks and I wish that this one could have been runnier. Perhaps it had a flu jab. (okay not funny)
A hearty meal, with all the soup polished off. However, I have to add that one bowl of soup is just right. Anymore, you will feel the gelatness setting in.
However if you find that you have extra soup left, and extra space left in your stomach, you can ask for a kaedama. Or “add noodles” in Singaporean terms. One full bowl of noodles cost $2, and half a bowl cost $1. They’ll serve the noodles in a small bowl which you will then join them with your remaining soup. A younger me would have done it, but I was full and satisfied with one bowl!
After visiting this place for close to 4 years, I am still convinced that this is probably the best ramen place in town. If you have the time, do give it a try. It’s worth it! We spent $10.80 on noodles and $2.50 for egg. One person should pay about $15. Green tea coke costs $2.50 (discount).
Tonkotsu King [1 Tras Link, Orchid Hotel Singapore, near Tanjong Pagar MRT]