Monday, September 23, 2013

Muso Ramen -Burdensome Expectations

By Mark

One of the 3 new entrants to Ramen Champion in 2013, Muso was one of the stalls I'd been looking forward to sampling, with its impressive credential of coming out on top of the Ramen Champion franchise in Hong Kong. Ramen Champion's stalls may not be the most authentic out there, especially with salt and fat contents being toned down to suit our local palette, but they're still a standard bearer of sorts, thereby making it no easy feat for a stall to have emerged champion. With this in mind, I went in with a fair amount of expectations, apparently having not learn my many prior lessons that there cannot be disappointment if expectations aren't harboured.


What I had: Ajitama Cha Cha Ramen ($13)

Muso's broth is soy-based and made from pork bones, which is essentially the same genre as Buta God's. I admit to having felt rather skeptical at Ramen Champion's decision to bring in two stalls that bear so many similarities to each other (at least superficially). Having two shops that are so identical, thereby not adding much to the variation of Ramen Champion, this basically defeats the purpose of its main selling points -exposing Singaporeans to vastly differing styles of ramen (or so I felt).

Looks pretty good

Upon sampling the broth though, I was relieved that it didn't taste much like Buta God's. Their similar genres notwithstanding, Buta God's was predominantly sweet, while Muso's had a much clearer and heavier pork taste. It did have a hint of sweetness too, courtesy of the onions, but this had a sharp tinge to it, adding another dimension to the broth and resulting in one that had a nice mix of flavours. This coupled with the thinner broth bears another similarity to Buta God, as it doesn't try to overpower its eaters with one intense flavour alone, but instead coerces them into indulging with its subtler, lighter-tasting flavours. Unfortunately though, the broth lost some steam towards the end of the meal as it started tasting increasingly of its individual ingredients, and less a unified product of them. Consistency is an issue that many eateries struggle with, and a truly great bowl of ramen would be thoroughly enjoyable from the first sip right down to the last, instead of growing more subdued as it's consumed.

Muso's chashu reminded me of Bario's on a diet, in that the fatty bits are melt-in-your-mouth good too, which is an irreplaceable experience in itself. The health-conscious (a convenient euphemism for the uninitiated) may whine about the adverse health effects of fatty chashu, but food is there for us to enjoy, and its creators probably didn't mean for us to agonize over it. On the flipside, the chashu suffers from inconsistency too, with its leaner bits being almost unbearably tough to chew and having a bland, rubber-like texture.

Also, I felt that the chashu, along with the noodles, didn't absorb the soup well at all, holding none of its taste the way better ramens do. By themselves, they didn't taste particularly bad, but they'd have tasted much better if the broth's flavour was infused in them, as any self-respecting ramen shop worth its money should know.

One saving grace of Muso would be its flavoured egg, which was executed nearly to perfection. Its yolk was almost perfectly runny, and the seasoning added to the egg made it very flavourful. This is unlike the other ramen stalls' eggs that we've reviewed so far, and this is undeniably the most well done out of all of them.

At $13, this is pretty much the average price of ramen in Singapore. It's not extremely spectacular though, at least not in my opinion, and I think that your money could be better spent at one of the better stalls in Ramen Champion.Of course though, it's still better than any of the chain ramen shops out there.

Ultimately, I wasn't very impressed with Muso at all. Perhaps it was due to my inflated expectations which stemmed from its title as the best stall in Hong Kong's Ramen Champion (I really should have known better), but I didn't feel that it's capable of being a strong contender for the title in Singapore. I guess it all boils down to personal taste, and who knows, maybe someone else would think that this is the best ramen in the world. I should mention that it may be a good alternative for those who aren't as used to heavy broths.

Have you eaten here before? What was your experience like? We're interested -do share with us in the comments below!

Quality, Taste and Presentation (80%)
Nothing too spectacular because of its average quality
Value (20%)
Normal pricing
Ambience & others (0%)
Check Ramen Champion main page on the blog for ambience
Worth trying to satisfy one's curiosity

#04-10, Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street

Operating Hours:
11:30-22:30 daily 

1 comment :

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