About Hajime Tonkatsu
Hajime Tonkatsu & Ramen (myVillage @ Serangoon Gardens) has sort of been a well-kept secret for a few years now. I guess the cat’s out of the bag though as I’ve noticed the crowd really started to pick up over the last year or so.
Chef Tan-San, said to be the first tonkatsu chef in Singapore, started this homey 2-location (Thomson & Serangoon) chain. He has helmed the kitchens of Tonkichi & Tampopo, making him a definite master in all things tonkatsu. Thanks to his commitment to affordability, anyone can enjoy high-quality tonkatsu at a decent price point.
Browsing through the menu, you can see that almost all sets are $20 and below. A nice bonus is that there’s also no service charge as ordering is done by going up to the cashier and placing your order. Do note that they credit card payment is not accepted here – cash and NETS only!
Appetizers: Try the Tori Kawa
We started off with 3 appetizers: tori kawa ($4.50 chicken skin), agedashi tofu ($4.50) and gyoza ($7.90). As the Hajime team is so skilled at all things fried, these three are no exception.
The savory, salty and crunchy chicken skin goes really well with the sweet sauce it is coated with. At $4.50+ it is definitely a steal.
The lightly-fried tofu was soaking in a delicious light & salty broth and got even better the longer it soaked. It was $4.50+ but comparable to offerings in many high end restaurants.
Gyoza was alright – a bit pricey at $7.90 for 5 pieces. Nothing much to shout about but that’s okay as they’re not the main star of the show.
Juicy Tonkatsu with Free Flow Rice and Cabbage
We ordered a good mix of ramen and tonkatsu, starting with the miso pork fillet ($19.90). All tonkatsu rice sets come with fruit, soup and cabbage. As rice and cabbage are free flow, so just go back to the counter to get your refill.
The tonkatsu has perfect bite (not chewy/sinewy at all) and is light enough such that you will not feel gelat after too much due to oiliness. It tastes exceptionally close to what you can get in Japan, which is no surprise as the cuts are flown in directly from Japan.
The fresh crunchy cabbage and the red-wine enhanced nagoya miso sauce also pairs really well with the tonkatsu.
Ebi-Fry Ramen: Hajime’s Own Creation
Chef Tan-San’s own invention, the Ebi Fry Ramen ($17.50+) was a really unique combination and it felt like a leveled-up Japanese take on prawn noodles. The pork-bone broth was accentuated with sweet crunchy dried shrimp and chili oil. This was topped with 3 large chunks of braised pork loin, and accompanied by 2 huge fried prawns (Ebi Fry).
I thoroughly enjoyed the sweetness of the broth and managed to polish off everything. Also, I can confidently say the Ebi Fry can stand up to any tonkatsu offering as it’s equally well-fried in the same thick layer of breadcrumbs hence crunchy and satisfying without being too oily.
Finally, the last item we had was chasu ramen ($13.50+). After the blockbuster two dishes, this was rather underwhelming. The tonkatsu broth was rich and flavorful no doubt, but the overall dish is pretty standard ramen fare.
Hajime is definitely a ‘go’ in my book – it provides affordable, great quality food which can hold a candle up to much pricier chains. My hope is that more people realize how awesome it is and the queues keep on growing for them. 🙂
Rach Recommends: Still have space for dessert? Try the nearby Apollo Cafe!
Hajime (myVillage @ Serangoon Gardens)
Address: 1 Maju Avenue, #02-07/8/9 Singapore 556679
Weekdays 11.30am – 3.30pm & 6.00pm – 10.00pm
Weekends 11.30am – 3.30pm & 5.00pm – 10.00pm
Note that parking in Serangoon Gardens can be notoriously difficult to find during peak periods.