However, I've come to realise that there sometimes exist a (few) reason(s) why a certain restaurant is always bustling with customers or has a snaking queue extending from the entrance of the restaurant. While it may be true that popular restaurants do not always serve good food (sometimes they just serve food that are worth-your-money), one can't help but feel inclined to visit a particular popular restaurant, just to see whether it lives up to one's expectations of 'good food'.
Aoba Hokkaido Ramen at Ion Orchard is one such (fastfood) restaurant. Granted I don't frequent Ion that often but Aoba seems to be perpetually crowded (at least whenever I walk past it!) and that made me wonder whether they really serve GOOD ramen. So far, THE best ramen that I've tasted is from a Japanese restaurant at Central (I can't remember the name of the shope right now but I know where it's located).
Last week, Jeffrey and I had the rare chance of being in town on a weekday afternoon so we decided to pop by Aoba for lunch. Thankfully, we didn't have to wait long for a table despite the restaurant being almost full.
Jeffrey decided to go for their special lunch set ($10.90) which includes a cup of hot green tea, a side dish (he chose to have three small gyozas) and a bowl of piping hot shoyu ramen. The gyozas were average but the ramen tasted better than it looked. Jeffrey especially liked the charsiew slices because they were tender and juicy.
Shoyu Ramen. Each bowl of ramen had an egg in it (:
Because we were being greedy, we decided to order a softshell crab ($7.80) sidedish to share. To be frank, I never expected them to serve us just ONE softshell crab! I thought that they would at least give us one and a half chopped up softshell crabs but no, all we had was ONE small little softshell crab. I was telling Jeffrey that this has got to be the most expensive softshell crab that I've ever eaten! Thankfully it tasted pretty good so I didn't feel like we wasted our money on this measly item!
Because I'm a lover of shio soup base, I opted to change the soup base of my shoyu corn ramen to from shoyu to shio. They charge $1 for changing soup base so my shio corn ramen cost $11.80 + $1 = $12.80. The portion was sufficient to fill my tummy but I didn't think the shio soup base was that tasty. The corn bits were, in my opinion, the best part of the dish! Love having corn in my food.
Although Aoba didn't live up to my expectations, it still serves relatively good and cheap ramen. Their lunch sets are value for money so if you're skeptical about eating at this place, perhaps you would like to go during lunch time so that you won't feel like you're putting a huge amount of money at risk. One downside of dining here is that they do NOT serve dessert! =( We had to source for desserts at other places after this meal. All in all, I was glad that I finally tried Aoba's popular ramen! =)