A new player has entered the ramen scene in the Philippines. And for that, we say thank you very much--arigato gozaimasu!--from the bottom of our tummies.
The first branch of Ramen Nagi is located on the top floor of SM Aura in Taguig City, while a second branch will be opening soon at SM Mall of Asia. That speaks volumes of how well the ramen is being received. Ramen Nagi is known as Butao in Hong Kong and that’s where one of the owners (Roxanne Farillas) first tasted Chef Ikuta Satoshi’s ramen creation. That taste inspired her and the other owners to bring Ramen Nagi to the Philippines. And the rest, you can say, is ramen history.
Ramen Nagi Manila’s first branch in SM Aura
The restaurant is one of many located in five countries such as Japan, Hong Kong (China), Taiwan, Indonesia, and now the Philippines. The 82-seater at SM Aura is the largest of the franchise, shares Enti Coscolluela, a partner in the restaurant.
Upon being seated you can start the food experience by checking out the Omotenashi Sheet. Omotenashi loosely translated means “generous hospitality”. For our dining purpose it’s an order sheet that will bring us our happy food experience in just a few short choices. The first choice you have to make is what type of ramen you would like to eat. There are four basic choices with one limited edition ramen that changes every once in a while. There is the Butao King (P390), Black King (P410), Red King (P410), Green King (P410), and the Limited King (P410). Once you have made your ramen choice you can either let the chef recommend the rest or you can make your own choices.
Some of the other choices you can make for your ramen:
- Richness of Taste – light, normal, or rich
- Special Sauce – none, light, normal, or heavy
- Garlic – none, light, normal, or heavy
- Pork topping – none, shoulder, or belly
- Vegetable – none, green onion, or cabbage
- Butao home made fire sauce (spicy) – level from 1-10
- Noodles – extra hard, hard, normal, soft, extra soft
You can also add some other extras such as Tamago (egg, P50), extra noodles (P70), Seaweed (P40), and drinks, among others.
Once you have made your choices you can send off the sheet with your waiter and a few short minutes later comes back your ordered ramen. Since there are four main types of ramen that Ramen Nagi offers, we decided on getting those.
The first ramen on the list for us was the Butao King (P390). This ramen is made with the signature tonkotsu pork broth prepared in the traditional method. The broth is created by slowly boiling pork bones for over a day and has a secret blend of seasonings which are all imported from Japan. This ramen was my favorite for the day as it personally defined what ramen is for me.
Butao King with extra Tamago on the side
The next dish was the Black King (P410) and it’s called that because, well, its broth is black. The color is from the squid ink that is added to the soup, along with the blackened garlic which gives this dish a distinctive taste.
Black King with seaweed and Tamago on the side
The next dish was the Red King (P410) and it was quite tasty. This dish is spicy to begin with, with its infusion of chili oil and cayenne pepper giving it the distinct red color. It’s also topped with a tempting ball of miso-infused minced pork. You can also opt to make the ramen spicier by choosing from a level of 1-10 of spiciness. We like to challenge ourselves, so we went ahead with a level of eight for this dish. Let’s just say we had plenty of water after that ramen!
Spice Level 8: plenty of water needed for this one!
The fourth and last dish for the day was the Green King (P410). This dish is not a traditional dish, but a fusion of Japanese and Italian. Its sauce gets its distinct green color from the pesto. It is topped with cheese like any traditional Italian dish should be. It’s definitely a unique taste, and one that as far as I know can only be had at Ramen Nagi.
Green King features pesto and cheese
Fusing Japanese and Italian
Ramen Nagi Manila offers great choices of ramen for its customers. Using the Omotenashi Sheet ensures that you have a unique dining experience every single time, as you change the options as you please to suit your mood. The menu will also be expanded to include other Japanese food staples in the upcoming months. Keep an eye out for those, but for the mean time, let’s have some ramen. But if you do have the Red King, please, make sure to order extra drinking water beforehand. You will thank me later!