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Meaty ramen, manga and food challenges at new Sumo Cat Ramen Club

Ramen, otaku-style

Ultra Sumo Cat Ramen

'First looks' are initial sneak peeks at a new venue. Unlike reviews, which are strictly anonymous and paid for by Time Out, 'first looks' may be based on press trips or other non-anonymous visits. Look out for the full review coming soon.

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What is it? The new venture from the people behind Japanese don place Sumo Cat focusing on another Japanese staple – ramen. Located strategically beside the quirky Japanese 'pop-up' café Have a Good Time, you can spot the same adorable cartoon cat outside the newly opened ramen shop as with all their other Sumo Cat eateries.

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Behind the restaurant's unassuming black door is a vibrant neon-lit space decorated with familiar cartoon characters like Ultra Man, Astro Boy, Monkey D, Luffy and many more. The television screening anime and the Japanese trap background music complete the theme. And there are plenty of photo ops with props against a backdrop of Mount Fuji at the waiting area.

Manga, Mount Fuji and ramen – you can't get much more Japanese than this.

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While it might get a little cramped at the bar where customers can watch as chefs prepare the sashimi, there's also comfortable lounge seats available for bigger groups.

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What's on the menu? Although Sumo Cat Ramen Club's main focus is the ramen, it's loosely based on a Japanese izakaya so the menu also boasts a large variety of small dishes and snacks to accompany booze – the drinks menu features Asahi Super Dry (25RMB/glass), three types of sake and three types of liqueur, plus there are soft drinks if you aren't in the mood for booze.

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Exotic skewers starting from 6RMB such as chicken gizzards, chicken heart, pork intestines and beef tongue – just to name a few – pair perfectly with cold beer. But if the idea of innards scare you, the more conventional meats are just as tasty. Fancy a little tingle on your tongue? The Spicy Squid (58RMB) and the Chicken with Hot Pepper (38RMB) both pack a pleasant punch.

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But while the starters are fun, we're here for the ramen. Customise your meal by choosing from the three broth options available: tonkotsu, tonkotsu miso and black sesame – all of which are said to be simmered over low heat for 18 hours to attain their rich flavours.

And, of course, you can have your usual chashu ramen Sumo Cat Ramen (72RMB) but at a place like this, we say be a little adventurous...

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The star of the show, the Ghost Claw Ramen (148RMB) is a spectacular sight with its monstrously sized pork ribs towering over the other bowls of noodles. Don your plastic gloves and gnaw into this grilled goodness with no shame.

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Love meat, but can't be dealing with the messy bones? The Savages Ramen (98RMB) is 750g of marinated minced pork with a tinge of cheese on an edible greater burdock 'stick'. You can wipe your bowl clean with this one.

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Seafood fans try the Thai-Japanese fusion Tom Yum Kung Seafood Ramen (92RMB) and Thai Green Curry Ramen (88RMB). More sweet than spicy, these flavourful dishes are addictive and both come with a generous portion of seafood.

And the creativity doesn't stop there, with other unique renditions like 'Not Pho' Beef Ramen (98RMB), Indian Pepper Spicy Ramen (68RMB) and Pumpkin Soup Ramen with Fish Fin (128RMB).

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What's on Win either of the two signature challenges and you'll get to eat for free. For the Indian Ghost Pepper Ramen Challenge, finish eight bowls of ramen with varying level of spiciness worth 298RMB (15g each) within 15 minutes. The Super Takeru Eating Competition requires you to finish the Ultra Sumo Cat Ramen worth 580RMB within 30 minutes. Winners will also walk away with 1,200RMB cash coupon plus a 20 percent lifetime membership coupon.

We say If you're an otaku, a cat lover or just a noodle-slurping junkie, chances are you'll love this new place.

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