Dinner at Kukai Ramen, Northgate

One of my favourite ramen joints here, not that I’ve tried a lot. I keep going back to the same few, but we recently tried Ramen Man and I wanted to roll this post out before that one came along. So Kukai is at Thornton Place (where Regal Cinema is) up at Northgate, but not in Northgate Mall itself. It’s REALLY crowded and you can’t really make a reservation, you can only go there, write your name and party size down on the clipboard, and wait. They’ve recently opened up a side space with more seating area for waiting guests, so it’s not that bad. It used to be we’d have to wait out in the cold for 30 minutes if there was no room (not even standing room) inside the restaurant, and they get really crowded on rainy days. Just some heads up for people intending to go there.

Kukai Ramen
I usually order the garlic tonkotsu ramen. Z gets the yuzu ramen, which has a lighter broth and a cleaner taste. This one is full on pork bone broth with garlic paste/nibs, bamboo shoots, a lovely ajitama, seaweed, and a rather lean piece of chashu that is overcooked, but I have never had any melt-in-your-mouth type toroniku here so I’m not faulting them on that. Making ramen chashu is a laborious process; the fact that they got a nice rich broth is already impressive.

Kukai Ramen
Z got the tsukumen, or dipping ramen (ajitama is an additional $1). You can choose between hot noodles or cold noodles, and the broth will be an extra concentrated/salty version of regular ramen broth. He got the cold noodles and they seem flatter and thicker than regular ramen noodles, not sure why. The dipping broth is really salty so I guess having a lower surface area to volume ratio is actually a good thing in this case.

Kukai Ramen
We always get the pan-fried pork gyoza (somehow $1 cheaper than the vegetable one), which is pretty juicy and comes with a great vinegary gyoza dipping sauce.

Kukai Ramen
Since we wanted something to contrast with the hot broth, we ordered their chilled tofu in shoyu which I didn’t fancy. The shoyu dressing was pure shoyu (I expected them to mix up a dressing with some dashi and sugar or something, not just use shoyu – anyone can make that!) and it was a medium firm tofu where I expected silken. This is of course not the first time I’ve had chilled tofu but when chinese restaurants make it in Singapore they always serve it with century eggs or pork floss and use soft tofu. Which you can find here, so I’m not sure what their excuse is. Probably not getting this again. The other appetizers we’ve tried here are their takoyaki and their grilled pork in a mantou bun, both of which are really good.


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