A Heretic Verdict on Ramen?

I love Japanese food but I was never a big fan of ramen. It was just noodles and a lot of soup to me and that was it. I'm telling you straight up: I was wrong.

Ramen Yushoken in Molito (beside Omakase)

When we got there, there was a queue. We entered and got a menu and I noticed right away that their menu had no pictures. I found this very intriguing. What I then realized was that this is their brilliant way of capturing your imagination. Instead of seeing the photos, reading the menu, the descriptions, and the instructions for eating while waiting was a complete delight. Instead of aggravating my impatience for queuing, it made me hungry even more. Whoever wrote the copy for that menu is brilliant.

The first that arrived was the gyoza. And can I just say, without exaggeration, it's probably one of the best I've ever tried. It was like xiao long bao in the sense that it was so juicy and soupy on the inside.

Then came our ramen. Tantanmen (the photo above on the lower left frame) and some sort of dipping ramen (I forgot the name haha what a useless food blogger, huh?). The broth of the Tantanmen was breathtaking. To think that this is the first time I really got into the concept of eating ramen. It was epic. They say this broth has been cooking for 24 hours or so before being served. It was unbelievable and it changed the way I look at ramen and eating in general.

Ramen Cool in Kapitolyo (near Uncle Moe's and Charlie's)

A few days later, still craving ramen, I ate in a restaurant near my work. It was decent and very affordable and the serving portions were great. I've just been so blinded by my bias for Yushoken. And so I moved on and kept searching for what I now dub as The Greater Ramen.

Ukokkei Ramen Ron in Pasay Road (right below Cable Car)

The internet is not shy about claiming Ukokkei ramen as the number one ramen place in Manila. Food bloggers and top ten lists all put this at number one. Even friends and co-workers who love ramen swear by this place. I went there for lunch last Thursday and guess what: I didn't like it! But wait, the story does not end there!

A lot of it was circumstantial: the traffic going there, then the queuing, then the bias to the Yushoken place (Ukokkei's interior is not as appealing). We had to wait outside for almost an hour and the lady at their reception wasn't being so nice. Again, all circumstantial and probably isolated and has nothing to do with their ramen.

Cold Ramen, Shoyu Chashu, and Gyoza

Straight up, I'll tell you now that I like the gyoza in  Ramen Yushoken more. Their cold ramen is absolutely epic though. I used to eat this cold ramen in some Japanese restaurant near my college before but it was only after Ukokkei that I realized what real cold ramen is or its potential for that matter. Every bite was like eating sushi.

The broth was great. You can really tell what they talk about when they say that this broth is cooked for 48 hours or so. It was really really good ramen but I can't say that it is better than Yushoken.

And so the next day I approached one of my bosses who's an absolute foodie to share my disappointment. He knows almost everything there is to know about eating out from high-end places like The Steak Room to the motels that have the best canton (haha!). [he was actually the one who suggested The Farm to me]

Did you try their Tantanmen?

In my head, I was like what Tantanmen? They didn't even have it in their menu. Turns out, they only serve the Tantanmen during dinner time and you have to go super early cause they only serve like 20 bowls or something like that. I actually had a blog post composed and ready to be posted but I had to rewrite everything when I found out about this.

I'm definitely coming back. The curiosity is killing me. Is it just an illusion of scarcity that will lead to my heretic verdict or will Ukokkei be able to redeem itself? I'll be coming back there and will be blogging about my experience! Follow me on Twitter (@harryinitiative) to get updates regarding this very important matter. :)

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