Former chef at Takagi Ramen opens own hawker stall selling his rendition of the dish, pumped $40k into business

Former chef at Takagi Ramen opens own hawker stall selling his rendition of the dish, pumped $40k into business
PHOTO: Gary Chua Lee Heng

For years, Gary Chua Lee Heng toyed with the idea of starting his own F&B venture. 

And finally, the 33-year-old has a place to call his own at Bedok North — Tsuki Ramen. 

The hawker stall, which opened less than two months ago on March 1, specialises in mainly ramen, amongst other affordably-priced Japanese bites like pork gyoza and chicken karaage. 

In fact, you can get a bowl of ramen here for an extremely pocket-friendly $6.90. 

At such competitive prices, another familiar Japanese spot that comes to mind is Takagi Ramen. 

And that's where Gary used to work before starting out on his own. 

A deep passion for ramen 

"I chose to launch my own venture fuelled by a deep passion for ramen," Gary told AsiaOne when we asked why he left Takagi Ramen to set up Tsuki Ramen. 

"I strongly believe in the potential of Tsuki Ramen and felt that the timing was ideal to embark on this journey and create something meaningful, such as developing my own unique menu." 

Gary first dipped his toes into the F&B scene when he was 27 years old. 

His first job was at a Chinese restaurant and subsequently, he worked at several eateries serving Chinese and French-Japanese cuisines. 

After which, he ended up at Takagi Ramen, where he worked for a year before calling it quits and setting up Tsuki Ramen. 

The self-taught chef never went to culinary school and picked up all his skills from the various places he worked at. 

His end goal? To set up his own business, which he can finally tick off his bucket list. 

"I had the thought of opening my own food and beverage stall years ago but [before that], I wanted to first acquire more knowledge and experience in the F&B industry." 

In total, he invested around $40,000 into the business, and the amount includes a point-of-sale machine, freezer, chiller and his customised noodle boiler. 

As of now, Gary is the only one managing the stall, but he makes it work. 

"Although it can be very busy and tiring at times, my passion for it means I have no complaints," he told us valiantly. 

He's also set a one-year timeline to assess the results of his stall. 

And if all goes well, he aims to open a standalone eatery someday. 

What's on the menu? 

It took Gary around one and a half months to come up with his current recipes for Tsuki Ramen. 

His simple but well-curated menu lists four ramen bowls — Signature Tonkatsu Ramen ($6.90), Shoyu Ramen ($6.90), Miso Tonkatsu Ramen ($7.90) and Spicy Tonkatsu Ramen ($7.90). 

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Diners can also choose to add on toppings such as corn, char siew and tamago. 

If you're spoilt for choice, Gary recommends getting the Signature Tonkatsu Ramen and the Spicy Tonkotsu. 

Feeling peckish? Pair your noodles with sides. The more popular ones are Ebi Tempura, Gyoza, and Chicken Karaage. 

So does Gary's food taste similar to Takagi Ramen? He urges diners to decide for themselves. 

"When it comes to comparing my ramen with Takagi's, I leave that judgment to my customers! If you've tried Takagi's, I'd love to hear your thoughts on both." 

Address: Blk 87 Bedok North Street 4, #01-191, Singapore 460087
Opening hours: Sundays to Fridays, 10am to 8pm

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melissateo@asiaone.com 

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