Most folks would reach for a hot bowl of ramen as comfort food, but here is a restaurant specialising in champon, another type of Japanese ‘soul food’.
Called Champon King, the casual eatery at Tanjong Pagar opens today (June 18).
It is the 14th outlet by ramen king Keisuke Takeda, who also owns duck ramen joint Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke. In Tanjong Pagar, other Keisuke outlets include ramen restaurants Tonkotsu King, Tori King and Gyoza King, as well as Teppanyaki Hamburg Nihonbashi Keisuke Bettei, which serves sizzling hamburg patty plates.
A Nagasaki speciality in Japan, champon was said to have originated from the Chinese, who migrated in large numbers to the seaport city of Nagasaki in the 19th century and developed their own riff on traditional Japanese tonkotsu ramen.
The name champon means ‘to mix a variety of things’. Other than thicker, softer and straight noodles, the dish is loaded with over 10 types of ingredients such as squid, prawn, clam, quail egg, pork belly and veggies. It is then drenched in a creamy tonkotsu-like broth that’s boiled for over six hours with pork and chicken bones. While the soup is similar to ramen, the thicker noodles in champon are cooked together with the soup instead of blanched separately in plain water.
At the 24-seat Champon King, you can choose from three types of champon. The cheapest bowl is the Yama Champon ($13.90), which comes with the restaurant’s 10 basic types of ingredients, plus six types of ‘land’ ingredients such as chicken thigh, chicken gizzards, bamboo shoots and mushrooms. Add a gooey-yolked ramen egg for $2.
Or if you prefer seafood, go for the Umi Champon ($14.90), which has ocean-based goodies such as oyster, octopus and crab sticks. Can’t decide? The King Champon ($15.90) combines ingredients from the Yama and Umi bowls.
Also on the menu: Onigiri (rice ball, from $2.50 to $5), which uses premium Hokkaido Yumepirika rice. Each rice ball is served hot and topped with fresh ingredients such as flaked Toro Salmon (salmon belly), Toro Saba (mackerel), camembert cheese, teriyaki hamburg patty and mentaiko (fish roe).
Ramen Keisuke Champon King is at #01-02 International Plaza, 10 Anson Rd, S079903. Tel: 6224-2234. Open daily 11am-2.30pm; 5pm-10pm. Last orders five mins before closing. Cash only. www.keisuke.sg.