BGC will now enjoy 60 years of ramen-making heritage from Fukuoka, Japan as Uma Uma Ramen opens its doors at Uptown Parade. The contemporary-casual ramen restaurant made quite a first impression at SM MOA with its family recipe noodle and MSG-free yet robust-flavored Tonkotsu stock. It is the first time for happyfoodies to zip in at Uma Uma Ramen. Excited to try out the current favorites like the Uma Uma Ramen and Tan Tan Men as well as the new fusion of local flavor twist Aligue Ramen.
We were having a bipolar weather that day. Occasional sun then a splash of rain as we walk towards the Greenfield District at crossing Mandaluyong from Shangri-la Mall. Gone are the market-place vibe and busy transport terminals replaced with a newly revived atmosphere and look with chic and hip restaurants along its spacious manicured lawns. Among the interesting restaurants there is Ramen Bar with it’s steam-bath like theme interiors but serving instead hot steamy ramen that passers by would think twice walking past the restaurant. Happyfoodies with guest foodie Jen have a taste of the new and improved broth from Ramen Bar and other its other tasty offerings.
With the ramen craze phenomenally sweeping across the metro, it wouldn’t be far for popular Japanese brands would come in like the recent opening (November 2013) of Hanamaruken Ramen at the Trinoma’s Garden Restaurant. Originally established in 1982 in Osaka Japan, Hanamaruken Ramen has about 40 branches in Japan and is highly popular for its slow-braised pork rib topped Signature Happiness Ramen that takes about 20 hours to prepare. Happyfoodies was invited to dine in their first Philippine branch so I along with guest foodie, Jen, happily tried out some of their offerings.
Much has been written about Nomama‘s artisanal ramen that I’ve expected little else probably worth sampling on a visit to shoot for a magazine. So the Kitayama Flank Steak came as a very pleasant surprise. It took me over an hour to finish my to-shoot-list and I expected the steak to be a bit tough after an hour of sitting on its dish but no, it was very, very tender (made me wonder how much more tender it was hot off the grill). The liberal use of Miso butter lent an irresistible, exquisite taste so much so that even if I just had a bowl of ramen, I managed to finish the steak by myself. The crispy tofu slices are a nice foil to the meat, not that my taste buds quickly grew satiated to the flavor.
A Koreantown in Angeles City? We’re probably too used to the concept of Chinatown that this idea seemed like a novel concept. Driving along the stretch of Friendship Highway, we passed a strip of establishments sporting signages in Korean with no English translations. Which ones are restaurants, it’s hard to tell. But for a taste of kimchi (the best one here for miles, so says our guide-friend, Tin, from the Angeles City tourism office), we bypassed Koreantown and headed to Balibago for Yu Fu In.
The restaurant is located in a sizable structure located across the town park. We later learned that it is in fact, the largest freestanding Japanese restaurant in the Philippines with a dining area spread across three stories — the main dining area on the ground floor, a Yakiniku area complete with the requisite stove and exhaust fan on every table on the second, and an open air area on the third. It’s a strange curiosity to find kimchi in a Japanese restaurant but as we taste the food, we find there’s more to like there.
Being named after one of the special wards of Tokyo, Shinjuku Ramen House has some big shoes to fill. But this virtual institution in the restaurant front is more than capable of meeting big expectations and big appetites. I remembered eating at their rather non-descript branch in Makati Avenue years back and know from memory how good the food was.
Their other Makati branch was also rather old and non-descript until it got a major renovation some months back. As part of the Little Tokyo complex, it gets immediate attention from passersby since it is located along the busy thoroughfare of Pasong Tamo, at the much-coveted corner where one turns before heading off to Makati Cinema Square. At certain times of the day, the parking lot is full and the restaurant plays host to a mixed clientele eager to taste their authentic ramen and other Japanese fare.