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Nov 3, 2012 09:58 AM

Kuala Lumpur - Haphazardly prepared meal at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

Had dinner at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at the bustling Tokyo Street, the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, this evening.

Ramen (ラーメン) is, of course, a Japanese noodle dish of Chinese origins. Funny thing is – outside Japan, it takes on a “Japanese” persona, whereas in Japan, ramen outlets oftentimes put on Chinese decorations – as *any* Japanese knows that “real” ramen is Chinese. I just read in the Wikipedia that, until the 1950s, ramen was called "shina soba" (支那そば), literally meaning "Chinese soba", though the preferred term these days in Japan is just ramen.

Well, since Santouka touts itself as serving Hokkaido-style ramen, I opted for the miso broth which, I’m given to understand, was invented by the “dosanko”. Santouka’s version of miso ramen was garnished with “chashu” (チャーシュー), the Japanese answer to Chinese “cha-siu” (叉燒). But whilst Chinese “cha-siu” is caramelized, barbecued pork, Japanese “cha-shu” is basically braised rolled pork. Other toppings in my miso ramen bowl included bamboo shoots, wood-ear fungus, a thin slice of “kamaboko” fish cake, chopped leeks & toasted sesame seeds. Santouka’s ramen bowl did not include beansprouts, and the “ajitsuke tamago” (味付け玉子) or seasoned egg with molten centre came as an optional side-order.

Another side-order I had was the pork “gyoza” (ギョーザ) which, again, is of Chinese origin – being derived from Chinese “jiaozi” (餃子). Japanese “gyoza” has thinner skin than “jiaozi”.

Rather disappointingly, I found both the “ramen” & “gyoza” at the much-touted Santouka to be not as good as the renditions I had at Yamagoya the previous day ( But Santouka is a *much* busier place, and the kitchen crew seemed in a great hurry to fulfill the food orders – my bowl of “ramen” looked really haphazardly assembled – the "kamaboko" submerged in the soup, somewhere underneath the noodles, the "gyoza" scattered all over the serving plate, so much so that I had to rearrange them in order to take a decent pic. Hurried, careless serving, by a largely Myanmarese service staff - this can *never* happen in a real Japanese eatery.

Tellingly, I didn't see *any* Japanese eating in the restaurant - the clientele were mainly Chinese-Malaysians. In fact, the entire Tokyo Street precinct, with its Japanese shops, restaurants, supermarkets, etc., were, in fact, full of Chinese-Malaysians only. Looks like the Japanese community would rather stick to the Mont Kiara area.

Address details
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Tokyo Street
Lot 6.24.03, Level 6
Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603-2143 8878

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  1. Japonaiserie, then. Too bad. What about the quality of the merchandise? High, mid, low-quality stuff? Or prettified "shui-for", as I knew the term as? (el-cheapo ticky-tack stuff)

    Pity about the food. It seems that the use of Myanmarese staff in the food industry in KL might be self-defeating - why do the owner tolerate such poor performance or quality control; or do they not care? Or does the general public not care? Yet there are so many people who seem to mind what they are eating...

    1 Reply
    1. re: huiray

      The merchandise at Tokyo Street shops are all upmarket stuff, mainly Japanese imports - in keeping with the Pavilion's premier shopping precinct image. It impressed even my visiting Singaporean relatives & friends.

      Well, for a Saturday evening, Santouka did *not* have a long queue outside its entrance - a few months back, the queue would have stretched quite a bit. A cousin of mine on a business trip to Tokyo recently was brought by a Japanese business associate to Rokurinsha ( - what he didn't contend with was the 2 hour 45 minute-wait in the queue - all for a bowl of ramen noodles!