If you’ve always been curious about Kyoto’s iconic Menbaka Fire Ramen but never got to try it (for obvious reasons), they have opened their first and only international outlet in Cineleisure Orchard.
While I’m personally skeptical about how well overseas food concepts, particularly Japanese, translate to local palates, curiosity got the better of me when I saw it was relatively empty one late weekend afternoon.
So, how does Singapore’s take on Menbaka Fire Ramen compare to the OG outlet in Kyoto?
The “fire experience” is… short. There’s a certain charm in entering group by group into a compact dining space, being led through the safety demonstration, the chef preparing the pot of burning oil, and seeing the actual bowl being set ablaze by a searing flame so hot that it makes your eyes water.
At the Singapore branch, it was over before I knew it. Only a recorded track of taiko drums and clapping from a lone staff at the side. I managed to catch a lucky shot of the flames from a couple who entered after me.
Fleeting theatrics aside, the Menbaka Original Shoyu Recipe Fire Ramen ($17.90++) supposedly features a layer of thinly chopped green onions to absorb the smokiness of the burning oil. The chopped garlic and green onions were barely enough to cover a quarter of the surface.
Credit where credit is due, though, you can still taste and smell the distinct smokiness. The signature broth, which features the same shoyu specially imported from Tatsuno in Hyogo Prefecture, is passably rich and aromatic. Each bowl is also served with a mini “fortune bowl” of ajitama, black fungus, and corn. I did like how al dente the noodles were, too.
While the Kyoto outpost dishes up one style of ramen, Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore offers an extended menu of soup and mazeman-style ramen, along with seasonal specials and sides. All part of the territory when one needs to appeal to fickle palates. Peckish diners can choose from a variety of sides such as Fried Rice, Crispy Karaage, and even Sakura Mochi ($1.60++ for 1 piece, $3 for 2 pieces).
While Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore falls short of its iconic “sister location”, it’s still passable in some ways. That said, if you have the opportunity to travel to Kyoto, I’d highly recommend holding off till you get a taste of the OG fire ramen experience.
Address: 8 Grange Road, Cineleisure Orchard, 05-03, Singapore 239695
Nearest MRT: Somerset NS23
Monday to Thursday: 12pm – 3.30pm (lunch), 5pm – 10pm (dinner)
Friday to Sunday: 11.30am – 3.30pm (lunch), 4.30pm – 11pm (dinner)
Contact: +65 8218 9236