Ajisen Ramen: Redeemed!
Wow this was a pleasant surprise. This place was always a disappointment in the past, but I recently saw an advertisement that I couldn't resist: the addition of "ton toro ramen" to the menu, with thinly sliced pieces of pork floating on top. Given my poor experiences with this place's food before, I had a bad feeling that I was setting myself up for a disaster.
Boy, was I proven wrong. Even before taking a taste, it looked from the appearance that it was going to be good. The pork was so thinly sliced and grilled that it was crispy and savory, almost like bacon or carnitas with all the great taste of crispy pork fat. Yum. The bonus is that it sits in a pork bone-based milky white tonkotsu broth, which is my favorite kind.
The noodles were admittedly still a bit boring though (despite their claim of the two layer noodle), and the gyoza sucked as usual too: too much stuffing and too limp. And service was even worse as they didn't even realize that they forgot my mochi ice cream dessert until I pointed it out to them (and it's not the first time either).
Actually, now that I look at it, I guess nothing has really improved about this place, except for the new ton toro. How the heck did this place get to be supposedly one of the most popular ramen chains in Japan? Who knows, but I'm sure it's not because of the nasty volcano ramen. Maybe it's the ton toro. Fortunately it looks like they serve it on the side too, in case you don't like the noodles.
So what's my advice? Come here only for the ton toro, and don't veer off onto nasty crap like the volcano ramen. And do try to avoid the Bugis branch as the service here is horrible (either that, or come here and get grilled ton toro on the side and bring it over to neighboring Tinun for some tom yum ramen!).