Like any famous artist, celeb chef Keisuke Takeda can’t be hurried. When we got word that he was opening an outlet of his Tokyo-based duck ramen shop called Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke in Singapore, the chef was adamant about taking time to perfect his food before we could drop by for a bowl.
But here we are, finally, on a Friday night at the shop space on the second floor of a shophouse in the heart of Holland Village. The restaurant is still under renovation ahead of its upcoming March 3 opening, though Chef Keisuke is already hard at work in the kitchen.
He had barely plonked down his gigantic Balmain bag embroidered with golden Pegasuses before he shimmied out of his hypebeasty Adidas outfit and into a freshly pressed chef’s uniform, which he had brought along encased in plastic on a hanger. (The man's so stylish, he's appearing in an upcoming Eric Khoo movie called Ramen Teh where he's also the ramen go-to guru for the flick's food scenes).
“People have been asking me to open a Keisuke outlet in the West,” the soft-spoken man tells us in Japanese through a translator. He already owns 12 other eponymous outlets/concepts in Singapore including the popular Lobster King (which regularly spawn queues and focuses on lobster-based ramen).
But duck, specifically Irish-bred ones prized for its juicy flesh and higher fat content, is the main star at his latest outlet. “Singaporeans like to eat duck rice, so I'm opening a duck ramen restaurant,” notes Keisuke, who also shrewdly spotted the business opportunity in introducing bak kut teh ramen, now all the rage on social media.
The term ‘kyudaime’ in the shop’s name means ‘ninth generation’ in Japanese, but nope, duck ramen recipes are not part of the Keisuke family heirlooms. He explains that duck (‘kamo’ in Japanese) ramen was the ninth concept in his ‘family’ of restaurants in Japan. Oh, and don’t expect the eponymous ‘soba’ here either. The term ‘soba’ is sometimes used interchangeably by the Japanese with ramen. Apparently, Chinese la mian (ramen) used to be called "Chinese soba" by the natives when in was first introduced to the country.
THE LOOK: We traipse up a narrow staircase to the restaurant, which is cosy and decked out in elegant traditional Japanese style. “The decor here is cooler [than the Ginza outlet],” Keisuke jokes. It's roomier too; 32 seats instead of the 20 in Tokyo. Grab a seat at the bar counter to watch your ramen being prepared.
While the Japan-based Keisuke plans to pop by his outlet “once or twice a month”, he has trained a team of Japanese chefs to helm the kitchen in his absence, just like at his other ramen outlets.
You can’t make reservations here either, so you’ll just have to queue up the old-fashioned way. But Keisuke is planning to open a rooftop bar right above the restaurant and implement a queue number alert system so customers can grab a drink while they wait for their table. Nice.
ON THE MENU: The menu here is straightforward: the six types of ramen all contain duck meat, duck broth or duck-infused sauce, save for another small list of side dishes that includes roasted pork spare ribs and prawn tempura.
View photo gallery above for our lowdown on the noodles here.
Ginza Kamo Soba Kyudaime Keisuke, 16A Lor Mambong, S277677. Open daily 11.30am-10pm. Last orders at 9.45pm. www.keisuke.sg.
PHOTOS: EALBERT HO