Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore at Orchard Cineleisure is the first overseas outlet of the famous Kyoto Ramen. We picked a weekday to visit to find out if there is still the long queue and to check out the fire ramen experience, the menu prices and what to expect.
What is Menbaka Fire Ramen?
Menbaka was started in 1984 by its founder, Masamichi Miyazawa. The distinctive ingredient for his ramen is a topping of sweet green onions. His method of sprinkling hot roasted green onion oil, brought out the sweetness of the green onion and brought out the fragrant aroma. I believe the ignition of the hot oil to produce spectacular flames has evolved into an integral part of the Menbaka ramen dining experience. According to the Menbaka Kyoto website, the four keys to delivering an emotional experience to customers are: Entertainment, Quality, Kindness and Efficiency.
The Queue at Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore Orchard Cineleisure
The Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore outlet is on level 5 of Orchard Cineleisure. The quickest way up is by the lift. The slower but more scenic route up is to zig zag your way up with escalators, which was what I did as it has been a long time since I was there. The Snoopy Cafe is on level 4, right below Menbaka. The ramen outlet opens at 12 noon. At 11.40 am, I was lucky to snag the last of the 14 queue boxes (one for each dining group) in front of the restaurant. Anyone joining the queue after that have to proceed to which level one of Cineleisure where the second part of the queue continues. Staff with walkie talkies were there to manage the two segments of the queue.
While in the queue, the waiting customers were given the order forms so that the decision making can take place . I selected a tonkotsu fire ramen ($18.90) with two add-ons (ajitama egg and chasu for $5).
There are two seating sections in the restaurant. The bar counter where the fiery action takes place (picture above) and the regular dining tables (picture below). Since everybody wants to experience the fire ramen experience, customers are first seated at the counter where the bowls of ramen are prepared and ignited in front of them. They are then ushered to the normal tables and the food served to them to be consumed at leisure. That way everyone has a ringside seat to the fire display and get their own selfie-videos. These are taken with the help of selfie sticks already installed behind the counter. The staff help diners to attach the mobile phones and to press “Record” just before the action begins.
The Menbaka Fire Ramen Singapore Experience
Even though the Menbaka Singapore restaurant is quite large, the patrons have to be admitted very slowly in around groups of ten that can be accomodated at the counter. It turned out to be a long wait (about 40 minutes) before it was my turn to be seated at the counter.
Step 1 : Preparation of Bowls.
The separate orders are sorted out and the ramen bowls were prepared and placed in front of the respective diners. While waiting, we were all given instructions on what to do when the fire experience starts. You can sense the anticipation building up.
Step 2: The Music Begins.
When step one nears completion the Hot Oil Expert starts heating his pot of oil at the stove. When the oil is ready, a segment of fast-paced Japanese traditional music is played over the PA system. It is the sort of music that accompanies a battle scene, creating an exciting atmosphere in the room. This is probably a bad description. Please watch the video at Step 3 below for the music and sound of the flames.