Last week, I accompanied Irene for a tasting session at Hajime Tonkatsu & Ramen and I was blown away by the incredible taste and value that is definitely worth sharing.
Located at MyVillage at Serangoon Gardens, Hajime Tonkatsu & Ramen is the gem of the neighbourhood that has been around for the past 18 months started by Chef Tan-san and co-own with his Son-in-Law, Soon Hui. Chef Tan’s earliest culinary work revolved around Western food, learning the art of butchering and handling meat. But this skill will take him to international hotels across the globe as this ability to handle meat would be integral to his success 40 years later. Chef Tan’s culinary adventures brought him to Japan. 25 years ago, the idea of a Singaporean chef training in Japan to master the art of Tonkatsu was unheard of. He completed his training and came back to Singapore in the 90s at the very first Tonkichi, making him Singapore’s First Tonkatsu Chef. However, he was not done yet. Chef Tan took up another challenge, helming the kitchen of the first Tampopo restaurant, building it from ground up. In his tenure as Pioneer Chef of Tampopo, he invented numerous famous dishes, like the now-popular Tonkatsu Ramen and Kurobuta Tonkatsu. Unfortunately, he met with an injury and had to leave Tampopo to recover from it. All those years of innovating had left Chef with an undeniable desire to start his own restaurant, a dream he had harboured for years. The fates conspired to bring his dream to fruition when Soon Hui tasted Chef Tan’s own Tonkatsu for the first time. The two men decided to join forces to bring Chef Tan’s dream to life by combining Soon Hui’s life savings and Chef Tan’s CPF money and started conceptualising with the aim of bringing authentic Japanese Cuisine at affordable prices so that everyone can enjoy it. They looked at over 30 locations and as fate would have it, Chef Tan got introduced to the owners of myVillage at Serangoon Garden. They loved the food and took a chance on Chef Tan’s concept. Just like that, Hajime was born and holds a taste almost 40 years in the making, a place where the enduring philosophy that the customer comes first will live long and well.Tori Karaage $5.50
Specially selected part of chicken thigh meat is used and cut into bite sized chunks to absorb the secret sauce concoction well after hours of marination. Fried only upon order, the highlight will be the tenderness of the crispy chicken chunks. I especially love how eventhough they are fried, it did not taste oily at all and made a really good starter.
Potato Korokke $4.50
I love potato but I’ve never tasted anything quite like this! Made to order, the Potato Korokke is only breaded and fried upon order. Made from scratch, the potato are mashed fresh daily and mixed with Japanese Pork bits (seasoned and cooked separately) which brings a fragrant taste when you bite into it.
Ebi Fry Ramen $16.90
My favourite of the lot – the 1st Ebi-Fry Ramen in Singapore created by Chef Tan-San. The Tonkotsu Base Broth is simmered in-house for 12 hours and infused with a secret Sakura Ebi Paste made in house for the extra oomph. No added MSG, just all natural goodness! Hajime uses Nama Noodles which is produced by a Japanese Company using Japan Flour right here in Singapore to ensure the freshness. The Ebi Fry is not pre-breaded but only breaded and fried upon order. Fresh bread crumbs are used for the extra crunchiness and tastes well with Hajime’s home-made tartar sauce! The Loin Rib Chashu is also marinated in-house using a special recipe sauce. Special cut of the Japanese Pork Loin is sourced by Chef Tan-San to bring a flavorful taste to the dish. Topped off with Menma (Bamboo shoots) imported from Japan, Moyashi (Bean Sprout), Greens, dash of Japanese La-Yu (chilli oil) and a generous sprinkle of crispy Sakura Ebi.
Nagoya Miso Fillet $19.50
Highlight will be the Miso which we curated from Nagoya, Japan. Recipe is bolstered with Red wine & Tonkotsu Broth. Our fillet is done just right with a touch of pink in the middle, thus ensuring the tenderness by not over-cooking it. The Set comes with the Rice, Soup, pickles, water melon & roasted sesame with Goma bowl similar to the Premium Pork Loin.
*Free Flow Rice & Cabbage.
Premium Pork Loin $21.90
This Japanese Air Flown Sangenton Pork is chosen for its juiciness and tenderness. This premium cut is highly sought after for its great balance of fat and marbling. Each piece of loin is tenderised and breaded upon customer’s order. To bring out the freshness and quality of the pork, there is no pre-seasoning or marination done. Hajime uses fresh bread crumbs to give it a long lasting crunch. Special Technique is in place to drain off the oil from all Katsu as much as possible to rid the greasiness. The rice used is from Niigata, famed for growing in pristine waters from melting snow. This particular brand is milled locally to lock in the freshness. This rice is then paired with pickles made in-house. Tonjiru Soup is prepared using Tonkotsu Broth (simmered for 12 hours), with Japanese Pork, carrots, radish, burdock roots, konnyaku (Japanese yam jelly) and a hint of Yuzu.The Goma (Sesame) Seeds are roasted for the fragrance thus after grinding (using the Goma stick and bowl) and coupled with Tonkatsu Sauce, it brings a new level of flavour as dipping for the Katsu. There is a dab of mustard provided as well which adds a zing to the taste. The cabbage is freshly sliced thin and washed multiple times with ice water to rid the raw taste and goes best with Tonkatsu. Unlike most Tonkatsu shops, Hajime uses Wafu dressing instead of Goma dressing. It is lighter tasting, healthier and more refreshing. This provides balance to the fried Katsu and ensures that your your taste buds are not overwhelmed.
*Free Flow Rice & Cabbage.
Overall, I’m incredibly impressed by the amount of passion put into making each and every dish being served, down to the home-made sauces, rice and even the cabbage! The freshness in the food was undeniable and the quality was just excellent, I felt that the food could even be charged higher. Chef Tan truly is a master at his trade what more with such a big heart to want only the best for every one of his customers at such an affordable price that everyone can enjoy. Will definitely be back for more.
myVillage @ Serangoon Gardens, 1 Maju Avenue, #02-07/8/9, Singapore 556679
1130 -1500, 1800 – 2200 (Mon to Fri)
1130 -1500, 1700 – 2200 (Sat, Sun, PH)