Have a beer - in your ramen
INSPIRED by how the Japanese like to down piping-hot ramen with ice-cold beer, Singaporean Chiam Wee Leong decided to combine their two loves into one dish - beer ramen.
The enterprising 29-year-old is offering a taste of the fusion fare at his ramen chain Shin-Sapporo Ramen.
Mr Chiam, who is the co-founder of the home-grown food-and-beverage outfit, said: "People like to unwind with a beer after work. So I thought, why not mix it up? Now they can have it during lunch. It's like the local dish XO fish-head bee hoon (which has alcohol)."
He also gave the assurance that people will not get drunk on the dish offered at Shin-Sapporo Ramen's three outlets till the year end.
The recipe is the culmination of three months of experimentation, during which the restaurant's chefs toiled over picking ingredients - from the type of Japanese beer to which noodles had suitable thickness.
The result is a bowl of handmade yellow noodles immersed in a savoury beer and shoyu (soya-based) broth that has been boiled for four hours, for $14.80.
Mr Chiam, who started the business three years ago with his uncle, said: "(There are no) additional flavourings in the soup, because I did not want them to cover the taste of the beer. The highlight of the dish is the beer broth, so I chose ingredients, like shiitake mushroom, that will soak up the soup."
For me, the dish's crowning glory is the runny yolk that oozes from a hot-spring egg. The soup has a tinge of the bitter aftertaste of beer - though it's not likely to give alcohol aficionados a kick.
But some customers have taken things into their own hands. A staff member at the Alexandra Retail Centre outlet once spotted a Caucasian customer ordering a can of Japanese beer, before pouring it into a bowl of beer ramen.
If beer is not your poison of choice, look out for another quirky concoction by Shin-Sapporo Ramen - sake ramen.
Mr Chiam is launching the dish - which features sake, rice wine that is traditionally drunk in winter - early next year, in keeping with Japan's four seasons. He said: "The rush of warmth you get from drinking sake is perfect for winter."
Shin-Sapporo Ramen is located at Alexandra Retail Centre, #02-23; UE Biz Hub East, #01-31, and Century Square, #B1-10/11.
Opening hours: 11am to 9pm daily. Century Square outlet opens from 11am to 10pm.