Ramen Review: ToriMaru at Ramen Champion, L4 Bugis+ Singapore 188067

Ramen is one of the things I ate a lot of when I was younger as a gateway dish to eating out. I remember slurping up delicious bowls of it in Tokyo, and sought to find the same level of satisfaction back here in Singapore. Unfortunately, while there had been close contenders, none of them could compare. Is it the water? The noodles? The ingredients? I don't know. Anyway I gave up on ramen and now only visit Marutama, or what I'll call "basketball ramen" because of its sign at Killiney Road or Central at Clarke Quay, when the craving calls. I liked the simplicity of the thin ramen there -- plus the use of chicken-based broth. That's why I agreed to try out Torimaru, a new stall in the now empty Ramen Champion at Bugis+, which is known for their Tori Paitan (creamy chicken broth).

Prices are very competitive, which you must have in Ramen Champion. I actually found most of the ramen in that arena to be too salty -- and what a way to do business by pitting very similar stalls selling almost exactly the same things side by side. I wished they could just disperse the 'losers' and keep it to one champion, since footfall at Bugis+ is hardly much.

The chicken ramen comes in 3 flavours - regualr, spicy and shoyu. Then there's also the tsukemen, or dry version with dipping sauce. There is no pork or lard in any of the dishes from this stall, though I don't think they can claim to be halal due to the food environment!

We tried the Chicken Nanban (S$8), pictured below, which was fried chicken with a generous coating with tartar sauce. Rather fun to eat, even though I won't say its healthy. 3/5 

We also tried the Chicken Salad ($8.80), which features 3-4 pieces of chicken breast, two chicken meatballs and some token greens. Because the chicken in there was essentially the same as in the ramen (which I will talk about below), I didn't think it was great at all. 1/5

I missed out the photo taking of the Special Chicken Ramen (S$16) so here's one from Ramen Champion's Facebook Page. I really liked the broth - it was rich and hopefully filled with collagen like the press release said. Apparently five different chicken parts (including large amounts of chicken feet) were boiled at high temperatures together with five kinds of vegetables for over ten hours. However, my gripe is with the chicken pieces, which had an odd texture to it that can only be from sous-vide. The flavour of chicken has flown the coop entirely - what's left is a bland protein slice that gives no satisfaction at all. The meatballs were rather odd-tasting as well. Generally left me a little uneasy. 4/5 for the broth, noodles (thick, but springy) and eggs, but 1/5 for the chicken parts. So overall 2.5/5

Photo credit: Ramen Champion Singapore
The unanimous favourite amongst the dishes we tried was the Special Chicken Tsukemen (S$16.80). I think for all the dishes you can just opt to have the ramen with the broth plain, for cheaper and perhaps the smarter choice. In any case, the dipping sauce was strongly powered by garlic, and what I'll guess is the reduced version of the already rich chicken broth. The noodles were also more springy, and fun to eat. At the end of the meal you can also request for some dashi clear soup to be added to your dipping sauce to transform that into a comforting bowl of soup. Yum! 4/5

While ToriMaru serves as a good alternative to Marutama, especially for non-pork eaters, I'll say that not everyone will be used to the chicken slices/meatballs that are used in the Tori Paitan Ramen and hence the neutral rating. Stick to ordering the tsukemen or plain ramen to get a taste of that collagen-rich chicken broth to be safe.

Ramen Champion, L4 Bugis+ 201 Victoria Street, Singapore 188067
+65 62381001
Daily from 11:30 am to 10:30 pm

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