Tampopo Restaurant @ Liang Court
Dinner @ Tampopo Restaurant at Liang Court.
Our second visit to this popular Japanese family restaurant. Some previous attempts to dine here proved futile as the dinner queue is often long, not to mention the reservation list. We are the lazy sort who choose to gate-crash on the spot rather than to make reservations.
Thankfully, we were here early today and there wasn’t much of a crowd. We still had to take a queue number but were seated very shortly after. 🙂
Tampopo has a wide selection of rice and ramen dishes. They are also well-known for their katsu, as well as being one of the first to bring in kurobuta at affordable prices into Singapore. Many others like Tonkichi soon follow suit.
We ordered two dishes, their signature Tonkatsu Ramen, and an ebi fry with hire katsu rice set. The Mini Buta Donburi came as a “side-order” to the ramen set at an extra cost of $4++.
Honestly, we weren’t too impressed with the side-order and felt soon after that it was something we could gladly do without. The 4 bucks could have been better spent elsewhere. The pork slices were almost paper thin and the dressing sauce was also not as appetising as what we had hoped it to be. It was a black soya sauce base, much like teriyaki wih a very strong gingery flavour. Reminds me of the chinese stir-fry dishes I concoct at home. For roughly the same price, the mini donburis at Ippudo Ramen are much more gratifying.
Thankfully, the tonkatsu ramen was an entirely different story. The photo session took slightly longer than usual and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise! It allowed time for the noodles to soak up the flavours from the soup and became plump with goodness! This is good for those who love thicker ramen noodles.
And I absolutely loved the broth base! It is rich and spicy, somewhat reminiscent of how soup-based prawn noodles (hay mee!) would taste like with a generous sprinkle of chilli powder, a highly colloquialised way of eating prawn noodles, possibly a practice found only in singapore. Leaves me wonder if spicy chilli-flavoured ramen is a thing in Japan as well.
The rosu (pork loin) katsu was well-executed but both J and I felt that the ones served at Tonkichi seems marginally better than the one at Tampopo. Tonkichi’s versions WERE bigger and thicker, though honestly speaking, we hadn’t been back to Tonkichi for quite a while, since their menu revamp and price hike.
Despite the comparison, Tampopo’s rosu katsu still scores high on our list though.
close up on the plumped up noodles after soaking up the soup. Noodles still retains a reasonable degree of firmess and “QQ”-ness!
J’s Ebi Fry wth Hire (pork fillet) Katsu Rice Set. Presentation and portion size is similar to the ones offered at Tonkichi and comes with refills for rice and shredded cabbage. Tonkichi’s miso is also on the refill list but not for Tampopo, and understandably so. Tampopo serves miso tonjru instead, with the addition of pork slices. Making this refillable would definitely create major hiccups in managing food costs!
Prima facie, Ebi fry that came with the set seemed a tad skinner than the ones from Tonkichi, but we immediately understands why this is so upon sinking our teeth into one.
The layer of panko though firm and crisp, is reasonably thinner compared to the ones at Tonkichi. This is a welcomed decision for both the restaurant and the diner. While helping to lower material costs, having a thinner panko layer prevented us from being overwhelmed by mouthfuls of flour and crumbs when taking a bite. This allowed the sweetness and succulent crunch of the shrimp encased within to be better appreciated. And appreciate it we certainly did. Unlike substitutes like tiger prawn (and most probably the farmed varieties) used at Tonkichi, shrimp in Tampopo’s Ebi Fry we had reminded of the texture of Amaebi, just that it was much bigger! This was probably closer in taste and texture of the kurama shrimp, traditionally used for “Ebi Furai”. And I most certainly enjoyed this to the usual run-in-the-mill tiger prawns.
So another well-done, Tampopo!