SINGAPORE â€” Hsian Ming, the PR rep for newly opened Seizan Uni Ramen, is regaling me with the story behind the inspiration for Seizan Uni Ramen. It starts two floors above where we are currently sitting atâ€”Picnic Food Park in Wisma Atriaâ€”at Nabe Seizan, an offshoot of two-Michelin star kaiseki restaurant, Seizan in Tokyo, headed by Head Chef Uchida. The Japanese hotpot restaurant on the fourth floor has been receiving feedback from customers who were requesting for a ramen dish made using Nabe Seizan’s wildly inventive uni brothâ€”a sea urchin broth base that turns ordinary dashi into a vibrant glow of amber. Thus, Seizan Uni Ramen was born.
Setting up an offshoot brand specialising solely in ramen at Picnic Food Park two floors down could be considered a stroke of genius. Logistical considerations aside, it ensures utter freshness of the dashi when it’s made upstairs and brought down bubbling hot and ready to be served. These two brands also share the same reverence to quality food preparationâ€”raw ingredients are flown in from Tokyo, including the very water used to crate Seizan Uni’s inimitable Dashi broth. Even the ramen noodles are specially-imported and crafted with a precise egg-to-flour ratio that makes the noodles highly absorbent of the soup. There’s that adage of the Japanese obsession with quality and traditionsâ€”and here, it shows.
At Seizan Uni Ramen, the menu has been kept deliberately small at just three options. The first is the piÃ¨ce de rÃ©sistanceâ€”the Uni Ramen (S$21). The broth is made from the combination of Japanese bafun uni, cream, and milk. The resulting emulsion is the colour of a beautiful sunrise and contains layers of umami far beyond what I can count. It is served with homemade char shu, onsen tamago, leeks, spinach, spring onions and nori sheets.
As a virgin uni consumer, I was warned that the uni infused broth had been known to be slightly cloying for some, which is why I am entirely taken by surprise by how beautifully sweet, creamy, and buttery this broth tastes. The ramen has also taken on a gorgeous, golden hue after absorbing the uni nectar. The entire bowl is quite simply a delight.
The thing that caught my eye when the bowl of Kumamoto Wagyu Ramen (S$20) arrives is that generous, hulking cut of beef. This A4, top-grade Wagyu that hails from the island city of Kyushu, Japan, is faultlessly tender but not too soft that there’s no need for chewing. The broth here, unlike that of the uni ramen, is clear but remarkably flavourful having been boiled with beef bones, tendon, leek, and garlic. I am torn between the clarity of flavours in this iteration and the uni ramen, which is more robust in its profile.
The final selection is designed to bring into sharp focus the painstaking efforts put into making Seizan’s signature dashiâ€”the Dashi SÅmen (S$18). Language lets me down as I struggle to describe the intense savoriness of this broth succinctly. At first, it’s slightly salty. Then, it dissolves into a satisfying blend of umami that surely can only come from hours of toil over the stove. Here, Seizan uses the Japanese white sÅmen noodles, reminiscent of the local iterationâ€”Mee Kia. It’s made with wheat flour sans eggs and is a wholesome option for diners who prefer their ramen clean, and simple. As with the other bowls in the menu, it comes served with their homemade char shu and tamago eggs.
Seizan also offers complementary add-onsâ€” Choose from Crispy fried fish skin (S$2), Chicken karaage (S$3), Gyoza (2-pieces, pork or chicken, S$3), and house-made Volcano chilli (S$2).
Seizan Uni Ramen is located at Picnic Food Park, Wisma Atria Shopping Centre, Level 3 (Unit 03-15), 435 Orchard Road S238877. Opens daily 11 am – 10 pm