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The pride of Japanese culinary philosophy, in a seemingly simple bowl of Ramen @ Tabushi!

The pride of Japanese culinary philosophy, in a seemingly simple bowl of Ramen @ Tabushi!

[编辑 Editor 吕大人   英译/日译 Translator 刘大人/土屋芳子   摄影 Photographer 刘大人]


“When we go to Japan, the first thing we want to eat is ramen”! In Japan, ramen is seen as a sort of fast food that can be eaten whenever we’re feeling a bit peckish, but there is also a large contingent of noodle connoisseur out there who take their ramen very seriously.

Originally from China, ramen noodles are actually a Chinese invention that grew roots in Japan and gained popularity as Chinese immigrants began cooking in soba shops. The blending of Chinese noodles with Japanese broth making and eating rituals gave birth to many modern styles, creating no shortage of distinctive tastes and toppings for us to obsess over.


Image credit: Yoshiko Tsuchiya

Everything started in Suginami City. Born on July 7, 2003, and conveniently located near Koenji station, Mendokoro Tabushi is a humble ramen restaurant with only 11 seats at the counter, before opening multiple outlets in Shizuoka Prefecture, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture, all within a short span of three years!

2003年の7月、田ぶしは杉並区の高円寺駅近くで誕生しました。オープンした年には、情報誌「東京一週間」で、「新人優秀賞」および「最優秀メンマ大賞」を受賞。また、情報誌「Tokyo Walker」ではラーメンマニアが選んだ、「キング・オブ・ヌードル」を受賞しています。その後も数々の賞を受賞しましたが、カウンターに11席だけの小さな店からはじまりまった田ぶしの味は人気を博し、3年という短い間に、静岡県、神奈川県、山梨県に複数の店舗をオープンしています。

In September 2012, the award-winning Tabushi opened its first overseas restaurant in Jakarta, with a total of three outlets in Indonesia before finally landing in the southernmost tip of mainland Asian continent, at Taman Mount Austin in Johor Bahru to be exact in November 2015. Even with many factors that can change a cuisine when brought to another country, one thing we admired about our Japanese counterparts is the matter of keeping the taste of the food made here as authentic as those prepared in Japan.

2012年9月、最初の海外店として、田ぶしはインドネシアのジャカルタにオープンしました。インドネシアで合計3つの店舗をオープンさせた後、2015年11月、アジア大陸の最南端 ・ マレーシア、ジョホールバルのマウントオースティン地区についに上陸しました。

Not all ramen are created equal. While the national food of Japan is deceptive in its simplicity in its most basic form, many different elements, from the type of noodles used, to the broth they are then immersed in and the myriad toppings, all come together to reflect different styles of ramen and create that perfect bowlful of steaming, slurpy goodness. Ramen is broadly classified by the type of soup, ranging from Shoyu (soy sauce), Tonkotsu (pork bone), Shio (salt) and Miso. At Tabushi, the soup is the soul of the bowl, which bestows the literal and figurative heartwarming quality to a good bowl of ramen. To make its signature broth, Tabushi doesn’t compromise when it comes to ingredients or preparation time, the chef-owner from Japan was on hand to impart his skills to perfect the original ramen recipe, everything from the ratio of the sauce, fat, soup stock and other ingredients are carefully calculated and executed to spread the authentic flavour. Despite the absence of “soft water” and wheat flour from home, many ramen enthusiasts still vouch for the taste of local Tabushi to be on par and certainly reminiscent of those found in Japan!


While the broth provides the soul to a ramen bowl, the noodles differentiate ramen from any other noodle dish. Ramen noodles at its core is composed of egg, water, wheat flour and yeast. After mixing the different ingredients and letting the noodle dough age, the dough of 10mm thin is pressed into a long flat sheet about one-fifth its original thickness after three iterations after which it gets folded and rest. As Tabushi provides both the thin and thick noodles for different dishes, the width can be varied according to demand, with most Tokyoites preferring the former that goes well with their signature Shoyu Ramen!

After the dough sheet has rested for a certain amount of time, the thinning process begins by adjusting the press units’ roller gap to a smaller value and stretching the dough, until the sheet reaches the desired thickness. This process is repeated 3 to 4 times until the final thickness is reached and the sheet is ready for cutting. The last step involves inserting the blade set of the desired width to cut the noodles, so all in all, the noodles can remain the same thickness, width and length with every batch and thus having total control over the exact amount (weight) to serve per bowl. The freshly cut noodles are then refrigerated and rest once more for a maximum effect on the taste. For such a compact but comprehensive production facility housed within the restaurant, we are more than impressed with the speed and precision that goes into the making of these high-quality housemade noodles!


A good piece of chashu will enhance a good bowl of ramen and make it great but is often one of the hardest things to get right. When done well, the sweet, savoury skin will melt in our mouth, the fat will give our broth even more richness, and the succulent meat will fall apart with the slightest bite.

After picking out the desired cut of around 10mm in thickness from 16kg of pork belly, the chashu is salted, rolled up and tied up with butcher’s twine at about half-inch intervals to give the roasts a tighter, more uniform cylindrical shape to encourages more even cooking. The chashu needs to be turned and seared all sides over medium-high heat until it’s golden brown before it’s slowly braised at a low temperature in a sweet and salty marinade for another two to three hours. Once the pork is cooled down, transfer the meat and sealed with a zip-top bag before putting it in the refrigerator overnight or until it’s completely cool. This way the pork is easier to slice thinly after allowing for a natural thaw of 30%, giving the pork even more flavour.


Tabushi serves their noodles in regular (normal) doneness, but we could always request to have it “super hard” or “super soft”, depending on our preferences. On the other hand, the broth, and the tare that goes into it are often major points of delineation that separates saltiness, savoury and umami-rich. Tabushi‘s homemade broth is a special recipe that comes from a labour of love, 16 years in the making and over 9 hours to simmer with NO MSG so if you ever find the broth too intense for your palate, the chefs at Tabushi are more than happy to finetune the taste to your liking. For us, we prefer sticking to the original taste and savour the authentic flavours of Tokyo!

田ぶしは最も適した状態の茹で具合で麺を提供しますが、私達は好みによって、麺の硬さをオーダーできます。麺の硬さや、そこにからむスープのバランスは塩味、風味、うまみをかもしだす重要な要素です。 田ぶしの自家製スープは、16年間の歴史の中で愛情をもって作り上げられ、毎日9時間以上かけて煮込まれて完成しています。私たちは、この東京と同じ本格的な味を楽しめることがうれしいです!


Shoyu Ramen

Also known as Tokyo Ramen due to its popularity in Japan, especially in Tokyo, this old-school Shoyu Ramen comes with a clear brown broth due to the addition of soy sauce, which results in the soup being tangy and salty yet significantly lighter on the palate. Taking the cue from our friend Yoshiko, we wasted no time in lifting our noodles (after our customary “itadakimasu”) and dip back into the bowl to mop up some of the broth and fat and slurp quickly and loudly! Fret not, slurping is expected and respected. The chashu is so tender to the point of almost breaking apart when we try to pick it up with our chopsticks. Mmmm, simply “oishii ne”!


If our child loves ramen, we could really have a go at Doraemon’s “small light” to beam at our bowl and shrink it to miniature size, or go for the Okosama Ramen for a good dose of Tabushi’s signature dish, complete with their favourite French fries, fried chicken and yoghurt drink! Even we couldn’t resist a bite at the miniature chashu and ramen egg!



Akafuji Ramen

As if Malaysia’s weather is not hot enough, those who want your ramen to have a little more kick can go for this spicy Akafuji Ramen to satisfy your craving! Liken to sunset of Mt Fuji, the chilli oil and chopped chilli is precisely what made the entire bowl fiery and shiok, though we find it leaning towards the spicy rather than tongue-numbing side. Despite its Japanese name, the dish was actually made popular by their outlets in Jakarta but fret not again, the tamago and moyashi (bean sprouts) have a way to add sweetness and crunch while helping to bring down the heat.



Katsuo Tsukemen

We could be forgiven for the close resemblance to our local dried wanton mee, but this wildly popular variety of ramen known as “tsukemen” was invented in Tokyo in 1961 by the late, legendary master Kazuo Yamagishi. With tsukemen, our noodles and soup are served separately, and the Katsuo Tsukemen come across as truly special with its unique bonito broth. Following the lead of Yoshiko, we tried our first tsukemen by dipping the noodles into the concentrated broth to soak up the goodness before slurping them down. True to our expectation, we could detect the distinct taste of the dried, fermented fish, and we love it! Trust us, our new-found favourite is intense and can be divisive due to its fishiness if you’re not into tuna or fish, but this deep, smoky richness of tsukemen should be tasted at least once. In fact, a regular patron from Kuala Lumpur would order two bowls in one go whenever he’s in town!

As the tsukemen broth by itself is too salty and thick to be sipped when we finish our noodles, feel free to request and stir in a small amount of dashi stock to dilute and sip the soup directly from the bowl. Consider it double bliss with this additional enjoyment!



Taiwan Mazesoba

Don’t be misled by its name, mazesoba, even though there is “soba” in its name, the dish is still technically “ramen”. Literally translated as “mixed noodles”, we liken it as the Japanese bak chor mee which gradually gained in popularity across Japan over the past few years. Like our local rendition, the appeal in this spicy Taiwan Mazesoba is about mixing all the toppings and sauces to create a sophisticated but blended flavour with a satisfying mouthfeel. Using thicker noodles and cooked quite al dente as our previous tsukemen, the mazesoba comes with sliced chives, spring onions, spicy minced pork, nori seaweed and topped with tamago. Be sure to break the runny egg yolk to make the noodles creamier and toss the ingredients together before digging in. According to Yoshiko, raw eggs are common in Japan, but the half-boiled version is used here for apparent reason 😂!

The mazesoba reminded us of the Taiwanese style of dan dan mian, with a decent level of spiciness that doesn’t overpower the other ingredients. However, go slow or risk some sweat to break out.



Buta Kakuni Set

The Buta Kakuni Set is also highly recommended. After all, who could say no to heavenly pork belly? The chunky braised pork belly was simply luscious, with two hours of slow simmering rendering the fats in the meat so that the flesh breaks up effortlessly while the fats simply melt away. We also love the simmered daikon and garlic that fully absorb the rich, savoury flavours broth, while casting an eye on the refreshing heart-shaped sliced watermelon to balance things out.



Gyoza + Chicken Nanban
餃子 ・ チキン南蛮

Almost all ramen places offer gyozas as a side, and we couldn’t resist the goodness of pan-fried dumplings. The minced pork was soft, had the right balance of sweet and salty flavours and the vegetables provided that much needed crispy crunch. Our only gripe? Six is not enough!

The Chicken Nanban is a fried chicken dish, but with a different take. Topped with Japanese tartar dressing that has a coleslaw-esque taste, creamy yet light, we are sure these crowd favourite will be a hit with young and old alike, with our nephew and niece guaranteed to polish the plate before we could count the pieces.



Raindrop Cake

The Raindrop Cake, or better known as Mizu Shingen Mochi in Japan, is crafted out of agar and the purest spring water to give this considerable droplet of water its completely transparent sphere. When we bite into this unusual dessert, it instantly disintegrated in our mouth like jelly. Eaten with the soybean powder and honey syrup, the whole dessert didn’t amount to much, but for the very subtle sweetness and fragrance of osmanthus, Tabushi‘s rendition is nevertheless, somewhat refreshing.



What can we say? Tabushi prides themselves on their Japanese craftsmanship, where they are continually committed to improving the taste and the quality of their ramen while staying true to their roots and original taste of Tokyo!

If you are a ramen fanatic or first-timer, either way, you’re in for a treat!



田ぶし Tabushi

📍 GF, No. 51, Jalan Austin Heights 8/3, Taman Mount Austin, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor
📞 +6017-738 7776
🕙 Daily from 11:00am to 10:00pm
💻 Tabushi Ramen



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All content and ratings are based on MAGistrate’s collective opinions and experiences, which we hope will be informative and interesting for readers and perhaps, lead you to form your own opinions and preferences. While we make every effort to ensure that our information is current and correct, some items and prices may change without our knowledge.
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