Niigata has a strange association with Singapore – the Niigata Alberix football team which has been playing in Singapore League since 2004. Everyone knows about rice and sake from Niigata, but ramen?
Niigata is one of the battleground state for ramen in Japan and Ramen lovers all over Japan pay attention to the ramen created by its abundant food culture. There are three piping hot, delicious ramen styles from the region. They are Ginger-Infused Ramen – Nagaoka Style, Thick Soup, Thick Noodles – Tsubame-Sanjo Style, and Niigata Ramen with Food Stall Roots – Niigata City Style
Sanpoutei was founded in Niigata in 1967 and has since served their own Niigata City style of ramen stock made from Niigata shoyu and dried sardines, as well as the Niiagata Tsubame Sanjo style.
Niigata Tsubame Sanjo Ramen 新潟燕三条背脂ラーメン is a major type of ramen that originated around the cities of Sanjo and Tsubame in Niigata Prefecture. The soup has a strong (kotteri) shoyu-based soup broth with a rich niboshi (dried sardines) flavor and is served with a thick layer of seabura (pork backfat) covering the surface of the soup which helps to keep the ramen piping hot!
Sanpoutei insists on using house made ramen noodles made in the shop using machinery so that they can produce moist and springy noodles everything, unlike the dry, dehydrated versions from central kitchens or factories. Each bowl of noodles are springy and have that bite to them.
Unlike the normal charsiu, the pork slices are stewed and then aburi before serving, giving it a smoky, rich texture. Another thing worth mentioning is the bowl used to hold each bowl of ramen. They use metal bowls specially make in Tsubame Sanjo district in Niigata that is famous for metal workshops. These special bowls keep the heat in each bowl so that the fats would not solidify during the winter months, ensuring a hot bowl of ramen every time.
The soup was not dashi stock, and the oden items were all overcooked and totally deprived of any flavours. Don’t even try this for the daikon, not worth it.
A small bowl of pork belly butakiri don with a raw egg yolk was quick delicious. Just enough portion if you are having the noodles to round up the meal, not quite enough to be a meal on its own.
We rounded up the meal with rice sandwiches “Onigirazu” made with Niigata Koshihikari rice 新潟コシヒカリの おにぎらず. Onigirazu is wrapped on the outside with seaweed, just like a traditional onigiri, and includes rice with various fillings as well. You can put more fillings inside, as the “rice ball” shape is square and you can spread the ingredients just like how you lay them out for a sandwich. You wrap the fillings from the four corners of nori.
But these were made like an oblong maki. And the ikura version was only just the topping on the exposed surface like a gunkan. Not worth the effort.
I would just come for the ramen, the rest of the menu (at least the ones I have ordered) are not worth calories.
Visited on Jun 2022