Ramen has been taking over the food scene both in Manila and Cebu since 2014 and it hasn’t seemed to slow down at all. More ramen restaurants keep popping up and people are learning that this isn’t your ordinary noodle soup.
We know that Japanese cuisine is among the superior cuisines in Asia and that’s because they take their food very seriously. Every dish is an art—ramen being no less, such that ramen chefs have their own distinct titles. They have made ramen a spectacle to behold, a dish worth anticipating. Every step of the preparation and service is done with utmost accuracy, every detail given full attention.
Honestly, I initially had a premature disinterest in ramen because I thought the broth was too complex and rich. And, my first taste of ramen in one of the first ramen houses in Cebu did not help at all because that supposed highly recommended ramen house had just changed management then so the quality wasn’t the same. But, of course, I’ve tasted better ramen since and found myself onboard the ramen rave bandwagon—none other than ramen itself turned me into a convert. I like to call myself a… ramen ranger! Whenever I head to a ramen house, I can’t help chanting, “Go, go, ramen rangers!” Lol. Sorry for the millenials who can’t relate.
Anyway, so now I’m based in Manila (I just moved here two weeks ago) and this ramen ranger has yet to explore the best ramen around. Fortunately, I was invited by Ippudo—a ramen restaurant under the Standard Hospitality Group, the same company that introduced the epic Yabu House of Katsu (just my only favorite breaded porkchop, ever!)—to taste their newly launched ramen and I just couldn’t resist. I was invited to their newest branch, at Uptown Mall in BGC. Perfect, because my office is at BGC, too.
As if having ramen for dinner after a busy day at work wasn’t perfect enough, the weather seemed almost orchestrated to set the mood even more. And best of all, it was a holiday the next day! Ha!
Everything about Ippudo was a set-up for a great ramen night. Like most ramen restaurants, I was greeted in Japanese as I entered and the servers barking Japanese greetings throughout the night transformed the atmosphere into a serious ramen realm. But, something distinct about Ippudo is the impeccable service that ensures your meal is always served promptly and precisely—a trademark of The Standard Hospitality Group. The entire meal was seamless. In fact, it seemed to go by so fast that I barely noticed I was able to devour my bowl... and a Wagyu Maki Onigiri! Oops! Superpower unleashed.
I may not know much about ramen but if it was something I used to not care about and eventually was convinced to adore, then it has to be something special. What I have learned about it so far is that you can’t actually compare just any ramen with each other because they are actually differentiated by regional origin, varying in broth and toppings. Basically, with the artistry involved in ramen, no ramen is the same! It’s all a matter of preference.
That night, Ippudo had just launched their #boldlymeaty ramen called Hakata-Style Nikusoba. It features their signature light yet creamy tonkotsu broth with thin flat noodles, stewed onions with sweet chili soy sauce, negi (spring onion), nori and topped with thinly sliced strips of pork belly. They highly recommend having this with rice and a serving of Onsen Tamago (poached egg). I really don’t eat rice with ramen but for this kind, we’ll see.
Whenever I go on a ramen night, I usually order a tantanmen because I’m a sucker for spicy food and I usually try to avoid the thick, greasy, pork broths that exude that distinct pork fat scent (which I guess is exactly what real ramen lovers look for).
Of course, that night was an exception and I was not disappointed at all. More so, I was even very pleased to find that the pork broth, though creamy, was indeed light and balanced. I couldn’t stop sipping spoonful after spoonful. And, since they highly recommended having it with a side of rice and poached egg, I took on the challenge and found that the pleasantly flavorful broth and generous serving of pork strips was indeed enjoyable with rice (I didn’t finish my rice though. Too guiltful, carbo-loading!). Even with the poached egg added to the broth, it still wasn’t overwhelmingly rich. Just superb. My rarely empty bowl was definitely proof that this was an irresistible one (although I forgot to take a photo of the evidence but I assure you there was a witness).
Besides the ramen, I was also served their Wagyu Maki Onigiri. More rice, I know! Haha. But I couldn’t complain. The wagyu was so tender, had a nice smokiness to it, and the yakiniku sauce it was smothered with was the icing on top of the cake. I also loved the nuttiness from the sesame seeds on it. This could be the ultimate onigiri dream come true! Ippudo spoiled me!
Ippudo is definitely one of the top places on this ramen ranger’s list. You have to try this ramen for yourself and tell me what you think about it! Or if you’ve tried their other ramen offerings, I’d love your comments and recommendations, too. I just got to Manila and I have much to explore! Tips from fellow foodies like you would really help!
There are several Ippudo branches around the metro, the first being in SM Megamall. Look for the branch nearest you through their website: http://www.ippudoph.com/
For updates, like their facebook page: Ippudo Philippines
Babe for Food