Bario Ramen

Of the Ramen Champion Singapore 2011

17 July, 2011 by

After having introduced the general concept of Ramen Champion Singapore in the previous post, I’ll slowly be covering the six different stalls one by one. Out of all 6 stalls, one particular stall stands out for being very unique among the other more commonly seen Ramen styles that have been brought over to Singapore and that is Bario Ramen.

For those who are not familiar with what kind of Ramen Bario serves, Jiro-style noodles is the only choice here. Essentially that is, a bowl of porky shoyu soup, paired with extremely thick noodles, topped with bean sprouts and chunky char siew. For added flavor, there is also one inch of suspended fats covering the whole bowl. Sounds rather overpowering? That’s because this style of Ramen is meant to be like this.

Bario Ramen, Jiro-style Ramen.

As mentioned before, the bowl Bario serves is Jiro-style noodles. This is derived from the immensely popular Jiro Ramen back in Japan. Jiro Ramen, which once was a cult phenomenon capturing the hearts and bellies of its loyal supporters had managed to catch on with the general public. From then on this style of Ramen boomed, and a numbers of imitators started appearing, each doing their best to copy Jiro’s massive bowl of goodness.

Among all of the other imitators, Bario had become rather successful in creating the Jiro-style noodles. In a few short years, they managed to open 3 chain shops to their name, spreading the love of Jiro-style noodles in Tokyo itself. Singapore is their first overseas venture.

Interestingly, the name “Bario” seems to be a word play of sorts. But one thing is certain, バリ男 with the Kanji word “men” written on is definitely warning that anyone attempting their bowl of noodles should be manly enough. Even to be as manly as the Bario staff themselves, who don on a Bario version of the superman T-shirt. Wished that I could buy one of those tees.

Expect to see the Bario beeper every time due to the large crowds trying out of curiosity.

To be frank, out of the six Ramen stalls, Bario is considered my favorite of the lot. Yet I usually don’t recommend it to due to the fact that those with a weaker stomach will suffer from its after effects the day after. The thick cut bread flour noodles can easily cause indigestion and the huge amounts of pork fats only contributes to an upset stomach. Not good.

Also, the sheer volume from a bowl of their Ramen is enough for the average person to be full for 1 or 2 meals. It is a tough bowl to tackle. In fact, some pride themselves in being able to handle this kind of Ramen with ease.

Regular sized Bario Ramen, a is Small size available.

So what constitutes a bowl of Bario Ramen?

A familiar tonkotsu based soup is used, but since there’s also huge amount of pork parts used aside from the usual bones, I’ll just call it the porkiest soup ever. See the deep brown soup with the suspended white pork fats? A specially chosen shoyu (soy sauce) gives the soup its characteristically overpowering flavor. Definitely not your usual store bought shoyu.

The noodles are made with bread flour, and sculpted into an udon sized thickness. Considering that a regular bowl of their noodles should consist of around 350g of noodles, that equates to enjoying a whole baguette in compressed noodle form. Even for those who opt for a smaller bowl of Bario Ramen, know that there should be at least 200g of noodles in there too.

To top it off, large amounts of boiled veggies (usually bean sprouts and cabbage) are piled on top of the almost overflowing bowl of Ramen and paired with some chunky Japanese char siew. I’d try not to give the veggies a miss, since they are the only stuff in the bowl that cleanses your palette while tackling this bowl of noodles.

Some say that among everything that is within the Bario bowl, the hardest thing to tackle would be the char siew itself. True? You’ll have to be the judge.

If you look closely, the thick layer of suspended pork fats should be pretty evident from the photos itself. It acts as added flavor for the already very sinful bowl of noodles and also helps keep the bowl of Ramen hot while eating. Be careful not to get scorched by the soup.

Bario Ramen 2nd attempt, with max garlic and chilies.

As recommended by boss himself, a bowl of his Bario Ramen is best enjoyed with some raw minced garlic, chilies optional.

Like the idea of fighting poison with poison, one can add copious amounts of garlic to their bowl to make the usually porky soup slightly less overpowering. Dried chili flakes are of course provided, knowing that the Singaporeans must have their fix of spiciness in everything they consume.

Interestingly, there is a scale written for the different amount of garlic and chilies added to one’s bowl. Probably a way to taunt diners to eat the way the boss feels that his noodles should meant to be eaten. To become the most manly as you can be, 3 large spoonfuls of mince garlic is required. 1 or 2 spoonful of garlic respectively dictates that one is manly or slightly manly (but all are still respected for simply attempting this feat).

In English, “For being a man, thank you”.

Bario is now the hottest bowl of Ramen to be savored by diners visiting the Ramen Champion, as it seems to draw the longest queues in each of the several times that I have visited. This is of course fueled by its novelty among of the other bowls of Ramen served, this is the most unique of the lot. Will it really win over the taste buds and stomachs of the Ramen loving Singaporean community? Only time will tell.

During each of my visits, there was no lack of brave friends trying out Bario Ramen. This allowed me a chance to gauge the consistency of the bowls they served. And to be frank, little details start to get missed out once the crowds gets insane.

One evident difference was that for the bean sprouts during my first visit, the head and the tails were picked out but that wasn’t the case in subsequent visits. Yes, the taste and other stuff mainly stays consistent but those who like to nick-pick will be able to draw out these small details without any difficulty.

For now Bario Ramen remains the top bowl to try, if only because of its sheer uniqueness and novelty. For those looking for a challenge in a bowl of Ramen, this is it. For the rest who don’t adore queue times or simply want a more familiar fix of Ramen, I’ll also be covering the other 5 stores at Ramen Champion once I have the chance, so stay tuned.

PS: For people who are manly enough to finish the bowl till the last drop (no cheating), there’s a little added surprise written on the bottom of the bowl.

Addicted to film, Yan shoots with a black Nikon Fm3a. For special occasions, Yan shoots with a Mamiya Sekor TLR.