Taiwan Railway Bento and their Braised Minced Pork Rice

** Update from Railway Bento as at March 15 at 8.09am – The Railway Bento team is currently having some internal shuffling with exciting menu coming up! Both outlets in CT Hub and International Plaza will not be operating at this moment until further notice.**

Taiwan Railway Bento (台湾鐵路便當) and their Braised Minced Pork Rice

Address 1: CT Hub 2 Kallang Avenue #02-16 Singapore 339407

Opening hours 1: Mon – Sat  11.00am to 8.00pm, closed on PH

Address 2: International Plaza 10 Anson Road #02-85A

Opening hours 2: Mon – Fri 11.00am to 3.00pm, closed on PH

Introduction

Railway Bento was originated from Taiwan and they currently have two outlets in Singapore. These rice boxes form a great part of Taiwan’s rich food culture and are widely popular in Taiwan till date. In the older days, their people have to travel long distance on train and have to rely on these lunch boxes for their meals. These lunch boxes have a well balanced food spread like meat, vegetable, egg, bean curd and rice.

These lunch boxes come in at traditional and pretty looking wooden box packaging and also come in a variety of choices. I visited their branch at the CT Hub with the invitation of Glen, the boss of Railway Bento. Thank you Glen for the kind invitation and for hosting me.

Menu: click to enlarge

Braised Minced Pork Rice ($4.80)

Generally I have two complains on the braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) that i had in Singapore. Firstly it’s the pricing. Typically in Taiwan, a good bowl of braised minced pork rice cost something like S$3 to S$4 but in Singapore, it cost about $8 to $12 in a Taiwan-style Cafe. Secondly, I personally prefer the minced meat to be really fine, and well mixed into a thick gravy but many sold them in thicker chunks.

Therefore I thought Railway Bento did well in this two aspects, keeping the price at an affordable $4.80 (even at their Tanjong Pagar branch), and there is a good mix of fatty and leaner meat in the finely-minced meat sauce.

I thought braised minced pork rice (卤肉饭) is suppose to be a little greasy to be enjoyable and Railway Bento’s version has just the right amount of it. The sauce has a very thick texture that coats the rice perfectly. This meat sauce is actually less salty than it looks which i think it can be readily accepted by Singaporeans.

Fried Chicken Cutlet Bento ($6.80)

As for their chicken cutlet bento, i thought it’s rather decent. There nothing exactly fantastic about it but also nothing bad about it. It’s freshly fried, crispy and served piping hot. The chicken cutlet taste like those from a typical Taiwan Snack Stall in Singapore. At $6.80, the portion is quite decent for it’s price and this bento also comes with half an egg, salted vegetable, a slice of Taiwan sausage and it also comes with a small portion of braised minced pork.

Century Beancurd ($3.50)
I thought the sauce is very heavy and salty in taste but I like it. This sauce has a complicated mix of chopped coriander, garlic, soy sauce and chilli and is for sure too salty if consume on its own. However I thought it goes pretty well with the cold tofu. I also like the century egg that comes with a soft yolk center.

Fried King Oyster Mushroom ($3.50)

The king oyster mushroom is coated with a tempura-style breading, deep fried to crisp, and sprinkled with chilli powder. Having this dish is more for the texture than that the taste as this mushroom doesn’t has a very distinctive taste to begin one and it’s more like munching on the breading and texture of the Oyster Mushroom.

Conclusion

Taiwan cuisine used to be very popular in Singapore but it’s craze had significantly reduced after the cafe culture kicks in. The Railway Bento made a good decision to market it’s food as a eat-and-go model, rather than a Taiwan-style Cafe, therefore keeping the cost low.

As one of the members of the working class, I thought Railway Bento offers a hassle free lunch takeaway option with a variety of food items in a box. Not only the price is reasonable, it also offer a rather decent food quality and choices. I enjoyed the meal, especially the braised minced pork rice.

CT Hub at Kallang Ave

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

Ramen Keisuke Tori King

Address: 100AM, Amara Hotel, 100 Tras Street, 03-15,

Operating hours: 11.30am to 10.00pm daily

Introduction

Tori King = 鸡王(Chicken King). The founder, Keisuke Takeda, was once selected as the top ramen chef in Japan and crowned as Ramen King. We can easily identify this place by the queue forming out the restaurant during dinner. No reservation is allowed so just be prepared to queue, especially during dinner time.

Like Ippudo ramen at Mandarin Gallery, seating priority will be give to those group with all members present.

The menu is very simple. You got three kind of soup bases, the original, peppery black spicy, and green Spicy.  The ingredients for the ramen are the same for all the three soup bases. That’s right!! The secret to their great tasting ramen is definitely the chicken soup (鸡 白汤).

After waiting for about 30 minutes for my seat, the first thing that was served in Tori King was the mixed sesame bowl, for me to grind them into powder form, and probably to be added into the soup, or dip it with the chicken. Or maybe they just want to keep me busy while waiting for my ramen.

Original Soup Base

Tori King uses chicken broth unlike the majority, many traditional ramen places use pork broth. In comparison to Marutama ramen which also uses chicken broth, the taste of Tori King’s broth is stronger and much more flavorful. The stock is made from chicken bones, chicken feet, Japanese seaweed and an assortment of vegetables and boiled for eight hours. The original soup base comes with a piece of pork slice, giant seaweed, half boiled egg and the star of the show – the chicken drumstick!

Chef Keisuke said the chicken is boiled for 45 minutes and submerged overnight in soy sauce and is grilled before it’s served. The chicken drumstick is so tender that the meat comes off the bone so easily. A pair of chop sticks is all you need. No fork and knife involved.

Black Spicy Garlic Soup Base

The original broth with added black spicy garlic. I got to pay $1.00 more for this broth. I prefer this to the original. I like my ramen to be spicy.

Free flow condiment

There are a lot of sauces at Tori King – There’s a glass jar containing chilli sauce which there is a written instruction on the wall mentioning that it goes well with the chicken.

Like the Keisuke Tonkotsu King, there’s also free flow hard boiled egg, pepper and bondito flakes available. The mayonnaise goes pretty well with the chicken too, though i am not exactly sure that it’s the correct way of eating it. Remember to sprinkle some bonito flakes into your ramen soup!

Conclusion

For those who prefers a blander kind of soup base, you may think that Tori King’s thick soup broth is a little too much to take.

If you do not want to queue for too long, try to reach this place before 6.15pm and you should be able to get a seat for two quite readily.

Did i mention that that i was quite a ramen fanatic previously when Standard Chartered Bank released a list of top 10 ramen in Singapore and i tired about seven or eight out of the ten, like Noodle Ken at Somerset, Ippudo at Orchard, Santouka and Marutama from Clarke Quay, Yoshimaru at East Coast, Mentei and Baikohken at Raffles Place etc.

In my opinion, Tori King serves one of the best ramen that i ever had till date cuz the soup is awesome! And not forgetting the drum stick. Try it. Now.