The ramen craze has taken Singapore by storm, and has caught on in Malaysia in recent times, with new ramen joints sprouting prevalently islandwide.
In this ultra-critical city, our conception of chain restaurants being less worthy of attention, and deemed to be average, is clearly misconstrued.
I live in close proximity to Nex, and I visit the mall at least twice a week. I’ve walked past RamenPlay numerous times, sometimes curiously peeking into the restaurant, but never stepped foot inside until now.
I shyly admit I wouldn’t have thought of visiting RamenPlay if not for the invite –but I was deeply impressed with the entire dining experience that it has made it into my ‘will visit again’ list.
True to its namesake, its playful dining experience is carried through from the interior design to the menu to the service attire. Pushing the creative envelope to create new flavours and playful concepts, it is ‘playday’ everyday at RamenPlay.
The open kitchen stretches across the restaurant, in full view of diners; you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of chefs at work wherever you’re seated.
Okura Mentai ($3.80)
For starters, the Okura Mentai is highly recommended.
Poached okra are slit lengthwise and filled with a creamy mix of mayonnaise, cod fish roe and cheese. They are then torched to a slight char for a subtle smoky aroma. This dish is light on the stomach and highly appetising –it was my favourite dish that day.
RamenPlay Bamboo Chicken ($4.30)
The RamenPlay Bamboo Chicken boasts juicy chicken on bamboo sticks, grilled to a golden brown.
Beat up the egg yolk and use it as a dip; coat the chicken with the orange-yellow sunniness and put it into your mouth –the morsel bursts with sweet natural chicken juices in every bite.
Mustard Chicken Salad ($5.80)
I would love to recommend salads to the health conscious, but unfortunately this dish is set out to be more sinful than salads are meant to be.
If you’re not on a strict diet though, the chicken is nicely executed; it is battered and fried to a nice crisp without the meat turning dry. The chicken is actually not too fatty or greasy, but the aforementioned appetisers seemed healthier.
RamenPlay’s seasonal summer menu showcases a fun twist on the classics. It is available at all RamenPlay restaurants from 23 July till 30 September 2012.
Lychee Mojito ($4.80), Yuzu Mojito ($4.80)
Welcoming summer is the introduction of two refreshing drinks to quell the heat.
The romantic champagne-coloured Lychee Mojito is a Japanese take on the traditional Cuban cocktail. It kind of reminds me of an Italian soda. The mint leaves add a refreshing cooling effect, while the juicy lychee bits completes the flavour.
The growing trend of Yuzu has marched into RamenPlay. Yuzu is highly favoured for its aromatic zest. Here, it is paired with calamansi and mint leaves for the extra sprightliness. This beverage will help to cut the richness of the mains.
The alcoholic version comes with a dose of Soju –Japanese inspired much!
Herbal Infused Tonkotsu Ramen ($14.80)
The soup base is one important component in Ramen that makes of breaks the dish.
Here, five types of Chinese herbs (two of which are fennel seeds and female ginseng known as dang gui) are well infused into RamenPlay’s signature Tonkotsu broth –it is deeply flavoured without being overwhelmingly herby.
The bowl arrives brimming with bountiful ingredients such as sweet emerald prawns, snow peas, lettuce, wolfberries and three types of mushrooms (Honshimeiji, Eringi and King Oyster), constituting to a hearty dish.
The noodles are springy with a bounce, instilled with flavours from the broth.
Noodles are handmade in their central kitchen.
The Umani Crispy Ramen Ishinabe and Umani Rice Ishinabe are served with RamenPlay’s ‘Umani’ seafood gravy –a rich gravy comprising of 10 different ingredients. The gravy was first launched in 1967 in Niigata, Japan, by Sanpou Co Ltd; it is inspired by Chinese cooking styles.
Umani Rice Ishinabe ($12.80)
Toppings for both dishes are identical. Rice or noodles –it really boils down to personal preferences.
Premium Niigata Rice is used here. The rice is plump and moist, just the way I like it!
Umani Crispy Ramen Ishinabe ($12.80)
I personally prefer noodles to rice in general. The Umani Crispy Ramen Ishinabe is a novel interpretation of ramen that I enjoyed to a great extend.
If you like Crispy Noodles (commonly found in our local tze char stalls), you’ll enjoy this as much as I did.
Niigata Brown Rice Ice Cream ($4.80)
RamenPlay’s newly launched ice cream comes in two flavours: Original and Brown Rice. The ice cream is made with freshly polished premium Niigata rice and natural Hokkaido milk.
The ice cream is specked with rice bits, giving an interesting pebbly texture, firmly al dente.
Brown rice has probably left unpleasant memories on many of our palates, but here, when incorporated into the ice cream, brown rice is made palatable for all the enjoy. You can successfully trick your kids into eating brown rice!
Niigata Original Rice Ice Cream ($4.80)
Personally, I prefer the Niigata Original Rice Ice Cream, as it is sweeter, but most votes across the table went to the Brown Rice Ice Cream.
The original flavour allows the milky flavour to shine; it is creamy but still light on the stomach.
My dining experience there was nothing short of pleasant, and it has changed my impression of the restaurant remarkably. Thanks RamenPlay for the invite!
Nex @ Serangoon
23 Serangoon Central #B2-58
Tel: 6634 4089
Opening hours: 11am – 10.30pm daily