Ajisen Ramen was founded in 1968 in Japan and have since expanded to over 700 outlets globally. Positioned more like a Japan based chain fast food restaurant selling Japanese ramen soup, Ajisen has been around way before the influx of dedicated ramen restaurants in the last 10 years. With 19 outlets in Singapore alone, Ajisen started their first overseas outlet in Taiwan in 1994 in failure but with their 2nd venture into Hong Kong in 1996. Unknown to many the founder Takaharu Shigemitsu has some Hakka linkage to Meinong county in Taiwan.
I remember the very first outlet opened at Bugis in 1997 and it was instantly a big hit as Japanese meals were deemed expensive and highly unaffordable. Takahashi Kenichi, the founder of Japan Foods Holding Ltd who brought in the franchise of Aijsen Ramen, started the business because he missed the taste of home and felt the great potential in Singapore.
All 19 outlets has a similar vibe which is open concept simple booth styled seats and served a range of ramen from pork broth, Shoyu and miso broth. In the beginning, Ajisen served very simple straight forward ramen choices like Shoyu and Tonkotsu broth with generic char siew but with more Japanese branded ramen restaurants entering the market, Aijisen has started to introduce new flavours like yuzu and tom yam flavoured broths to cater to a larger customer base.
Something that still attracts many family and student to their restaurants is their very pocket friendly sets which includes a ramen, a drink and a side dish. For side dishes, they usually have a choice between dumplings, gyoza, seasoned octopus, tofu etc. This is the fried dumpling which was served with a light chili sauce. The gyoza was fried till golden brown crispy with juicy meat and vegetable fillings.
The gyoza has thinner skin than the dumplings and has the same pork fillings but only the base of the gyoza was nicely pan fried so there is a slight crisp when you bite into the gyoza. The gyozas are served with vinegar but I like it on its own as the meat juices were still well flowing when you bite into them.
I ordered the char siew miso flavoured ramen and they came in their signature red bowls and large black spoons. The serving is just enough for 1 person but for bigger eaters, you might wish to add noodles.
I have always liked Aijisen’s noodles as they were springy and has very good texture so it picks up the soup broth very well. The char siew pieces were pretty normal but nothing too spectacular while the soup is thick and deeply flavoured.
My lunch mate had the tom yam ramen with fried chicken which came in a much oilier soup base due to the tom yam paste added. The soup itself has tom yam flavours but not overly spicy or sour so it has nice balance to the ramen noodles and fried chicken. It is like a lighter version of the Thai soup you can find in actual Thai restaurants. The added bean sprouts also gave an added texture to the noodles when eaten together.
Overall, there is nothing too extraordinary about the ramen noodles from Ajisen Ramen due to the endless choices of ramen in Singapore now but it does have pretty good noodle texture. It is definitely a place you can think of meeting friends or bringing the family with their pocket friendly sets and prices and wide range of ramen selection.
Address: Bedok Mall, 311 New Upper Changi Rd, #01-69, Singapore 467360
Operating hours: 11 am to 9 pm