Hajime Tonkatsu and Ramen at Serangoon Gardens - Review [Media Invite]

A good tonkatsu (fried cutlet) is one where the batter does not separate from the meat, even if you are mid-bite. 

Hajime Tonkatsu and Ramen located at Serangoon Gardens is set up by Chef Tan, who prides himself as being the first Tonkatsu chef of Singapore. The chef has over 20 years of tonkatsu-making experience, a good part of which has been spent making tonkatsus at the famous ‘Ts and Ts’ of tonkatsu eateries here. The menu consists of tonkatsus, ramen and japanese appetisers. Prices here are nett , as GST is absorbed and the place accepts payment upfront upon ordering at the counter. 

The space is casual and great for groups or families - if you can get a table as there are no reservations allowed.   

The menu is simple and clear in its direction. Choose between ramen, donburi sets or the tonkatsu sets, so if you are looking for a full Japanese array or sushi, this is not the place. That is fine though, because it is clear cut you should go for the house specialty here - the tonkatsu. There are a few other appetisers available as well. 

Hajime Menu


No pictures here as I thought it would be like any other edamame, but here, these are served warm, roasted and salted. I think I have an appreciation for edamame now. Good to start with, even for non-edamame lovers. 


Using the same panko breadcrumbs as their tonkatsu, the croquette was a savoury melty mix of meat filling and cream. 

Chicken Karaage 

We also had the chicken karaage, which were freshly fried, juicy golden chunks.  

The Tonkatsus are guaranteed to be freshly fried upon order so each takes about 15 minutes of waiting time. 

While waiting, you can do a mini hand workout by grinding the roasted sesame seeds. These can be sprinkled into the tonkatsu sauce or atop the tonkatsu cutlet.   

This Premium Pork Loin Tonkatsu ($21.90) has all the elements of a great one - panko breadcrumbed exterior that is crispy and light in every bite, before yielding into the succulent pork meat that is a good mix of lean meat and a thin layer of fat to provide that juiciness. You know it is a good tonkatsu when the crispy exterior still sticks on to the remaining meat with every bite, instead of falling apart, which is the case here. 

They also have the pork loin cutlet, which you can order ala-carte or as a set. Between the premium and this, our preference was for the premium, which had a better spread of fats and lean meat. 

Pork Fillet CurryApart from the premium pork loin, we also tried the pork fillet curry. The pork fillet cut is leaner, and hence less juicy.  This is for the occasion you want to be slightly less guilty and are craving for that sweet-savoury comfort of Japanese curry. 

Apparently, the accompanying cabbage here is shredded in house. Thin yet crunchy and sweet. Douse with the accompanying dressing sauce before having it. It is just great to not need an excuse and have your greens. Plus, this makes for a refreshing side to balance against the meat. 

Every set comes with the Tonjiru soup - tonkotsu soup simmered with Japanese broth. This boasted a light citrusy aftertaste from the yuzu and each bowl is chockful of ingredients such as the meat pieces (really soft) and cabbage. 

Ebi Fry Ramen

They also do a decent Hakata-style ramen - like this ebi fry ramen ($16.90). It sports a lighter yet still very flavourful broth simmered 12 hours. The ebi is freshly fried upon order. This is a decent bowl on any day for the Singaporean taste. 

The star here are the tonkatsus nevertheless. If you are willing to come a little out of the way and do not mind the no-frills experience, you will find yourself rewarded with a tonkatsu dish that is well made, delicious and I dare say, not lacklustre to some of the well-known tonkatsu spots in town - without breaking the bank at all. 

Hajime Tonkatsu and Ramen
myVillage @ Serangoon Garden
1 Maju Avenue 
#02-07/8/9, Singapore 556679
Opens weekdays 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm; Sat, Sun & PH 11am-3pm, 5pm-10pm