There are some friends whose emails and text messages you simply don’t ignore. My buddy IC is one such fellow. Prone to over-ordering (and over-eating), he has one of the most discriminating and well-cultivated palates on the planet. It’s funny because for many of my friends, whenever they travel, they email my wife S or me, asking for advice on where to eat (as well as where to shop and stay). But when we travel, we turn to IC for advice. We’ll bombard him and his wife with questions on what are the very best places, cheap or chic, in which we can stuff our very greedy faces. The two of them travel constantly and always stay at the nicest places and eat at the most exceptional restaurants.
A couple days ago, IC sent me a short little SMS. It read, “Ramen Marutama at Central shopping cetre opposite Merchant Court Hotel on Eu Tong Sen Rd 3rd floor. Is the best ramen I’ve had in town. I recommend to go soon before the press write about.” As you can imagine, a message like that got me pretty darned excited. So, as soon as I had some free time, I dragged S down to Central (a mall we had pretty much written off ever visiting) to check out Marutama.
(Along the way to the noodle shop, I was quite pleasantly surprised to spy a new and larger branch of Tom Ton, also on the 3rd floor of Central. I’m a huge fan of this place. I love going to the Liang Court outlet for its delicious black pig katsu. I can’t wait to try this new and sexier looking branch.)
Marutama Ra-Men is the first Southeast Asian outlet of an established Saitama and Tokyo-based ramen shop. For the time being, owner and head-chef Tetsuya Kudoh is here in town, overseeing the little restaurant’s operations and ensuring that the food is of the highest quality. His menu is simple. The ramen is served in a savoury chicken soup. Diners are asked to choose between having it normal or spicy. Then you choose what items to have in your ramen. Again, there are just a few options. S had hers with stewed pork belly. I had mine with a seasoned egg and char siu. Both were excellent. The soup is very tasty and the noodles, thin but full-bodied, were truly exceptional. Both my char siu and S’s pork belly slices were cooked to perfection. The ramen is served with some super-yummy, seasoned seaweed. On the counter, there’s a bowl of fried garlic, which adds a nice kick to the soup. The menu also has a few side dishes and two seasonal ramen specials. I plan on trying the house special on my next trip. It’s a ramen which contains soup made with seven different kinds of nuts.
I can see why my buddy IC recommended trying this place as soon as possible. I’m sure that over the next few weeks, more and more people will discover Marutama and the word will surely be out. The restaurant has a small counter and just a few tables. Fortunately, ramen’s a quick meal. Both in terms of preparation and consumption. Which means that even if it’s crowded, the wait for a seat shouldn’t take too long. Either way, the ramen here is definitely worth the wait.