Bid summer goodbye and say hello to the rainy season with a steaming hot bowl of ramen on hand. In this article, we round up Manila's favorite ramen houses. Which one is your favorite?
Madrigal Ave. corner Alabang-Zapote Rd.,
(+63 2) 808-7424
Open daily; 11:00am to 11:00pm
Noodle fans brave the long drive to Alabang for Ramen Yushoken. Koji Tashiro, a protégé of ramen master Kazuo Yamagishi, trained Yushoken’s entire staff to reach the high standards of Japanese ramen shops.
This 52-seater Japanese restaurant churns out superb Tonkotsu noodles; Miso (P380) and Shoyu (P250), among the four variants, are the most-ordered. The broth is thick, intense, and nearly creamy as expected after a 12-hour long boiling process.
Ramen Yushoken requires you to use chopsticks (no spoon and fork in the house), frowns on noodle sharing, and prohibits take-aways.
Shoyu Tonkatsu by Ramen Yushoken
Miso Tonkatsu by Ramen Yushoken
Branches: Mall of Asia and BGC
Ramen Nagi Manila offers a unique ramen experience by empowering its customers. Using the Omotenashi Sheet, you are to choose the ramen that suits your craving: Butao King (P390), Black King (P410), Red King (P410), Green King (P410), and the Limited King (P410). Once you have made your choice, customize your ramen further by ticking your preference:
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
Ramen Nagi's Butao King with extra Tamago
Ramen Nagi's Red King
Ukokkei Ramen Ron
Branches: Makati, McKinley Hill, Malate
Before the Ramen Wars started and the foreign franchises started pouring in, ramen fans lined up for Ukkokei's coveted Tantanmen bowls. Derived from a similar noodle in Sichuan cuisine, Tantanmen is a spicy bowl filled with Japanese chili oil, sesame, ground pork, and onions. Only a few bowls of Tantanmen are served in a day so good luck and hope you get to try one.
Branches: Makati and Malate
Nihonbashitei is one of the most consistent authentic Japanese restaurants in the metro. Dine here and expect to rub elbows with Japanese executives and their families. The menu is thick and complete with almost every type of Japanese food that you can think of, ramen included.
2nd level, Trinoma Mall
(+63 2) 720-9283, (+63 2) 628-1603
Monday to Thursday 11:00am to 9:00pm
Friday to Sunday 11:00am to 10:00pm
Hanamaruken Ramen is beloved institution in Osaka, with locals patiently lining up outside stores to get their ramen fix. Their latest branch, the one in Trinoma, is the first outside Japan.
Hanamaruken’s most popular dish is called the Signature Happiness Ramen (P480), a shoyu-based ramen, with a generous cut of flavorful pork ribs and al dente noodles that are made fresh everyday.
If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of missing their Happiness Ramen cut-off, don’t worry. They have other dishes on the menu that are worth giving a try. There’s the Pot Belly Ramen (P380) that comes with melt-in-your-mouth slices of roasted pork belly and Drunk Man Rice Bowl (P240) which is Kakuni (Japanese braised pork) served with two fried eggs.
Hanamaruken's Signature Happiness Ramen
Hanamaruken's Pot Belly Ramen
5th Level, Shangri-la Plaza Mall
(+63 2) 477-8333
Monday to Thursday 11:00am – 9:00pm
Friday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen, Shangri-la Plaza’s representative in the on-going Ramen Wars, plans to win by employing modern and eye-catching décor to distinguish itself from its austere counterparts. But unlike other trendy restaurants, Ikkoryu doesn’t just offer a glorified so-so dining concept. Its fans– Ortigas execs and Japanese expats—seek Ikkoryu for its tightly-curated ramen selection.
The limited menu at Ikkoryu features milky tonkotsu, the specialty of Kyushu in Fukuoka Prefecture. Among the bowls, the Ajitama Tonkotsu (P380), Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu (P380), and Black Garlic Tonkotsu (P380) sell the fastest.
Ikkoryu's Ajitama Tonkotsu
Ikkoryu's Black Tonkotsu
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
SM Mall of Asia, Greenhills
A franchise from Japan, Hokkaido Ramen Santouka offers Filipinos the exact same taste of full-bodied ramen enjoyed by its Japanese patrons since 1988. The requisite rich and hearty Shio, Shoyu, and Miso ramens are present in the menu; all of which are thick to slurp. Get the Awase-Aji Ramen variant if you want all three of the above mentioned flavors in one bowl. Pair a bowl with a plate of steamed, then pan-fried Pork Gyoza.
Kitchitora of Tokyo
Branches: SM Megamall, Glorietta 5
Kitchitora is set apart from the rest of Manila's ramen restaurants because of their Paitan chicken-based broth. Paitan Chicken Ramen (P360), albeit light in color, packs in full-bodied flavor, thanks to its 18-24 hour broth simmering process.
22 Jupiter St., Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati
(+63 2) 511-1390, (+63 2) 511-1759
Monday to Sunday – 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
The first international branch of Japan's House of Tsukemen, Mitsuyado Sei-men promotes a new style of eating ramen that started in Tokyo about 7 years ago.
Bestseller here is the Double Cheese Tsukemen, that comes with a hot bowl of tonkotsu or pork bone broth for dipping. To eat this dish, pour the cheese sauce on the noodles, dip them into the broth and slurp away.
Double Cheese Tsukemen
Ground Level, Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Center
Ortigas Ave., Greenhills, San Juan
Monday to Sunday 10:00am to 10:00pm
Originally from Singapore, Tampopo in Greenhills is the first 2-in-1 ramen and tonkatsu specialty restaurant in the Philippines. The brand was started byTakaaki Takagi, who also founded Tonkichi, one of Hong Kong and Singapore’s best Tonkatsu restaurants. He decided to name the ramen and tonkatsu restaurant Tampopo (literally: dandelion) after the classic Japanese comedy film that centers on a quest for the perfect ramen recipe.
What to order here: Deluxe Hakodate Ramen (P420) and Tampopo Black Pig Tonkatsu Ramen (P520). Each bowl is already more than enough to satiate the hunger of a full grown man, but don't pass up the opportunity to try their tonkatsu as well. Tampopo’s take is at par with what’s available in the specialty katsu restaurants in the metro. The cheese katsu is slightly more flavorful and more generous than its counterparts.
Tampopo's Hakodate Ramen
3rd Level, Greenbelt 5
Kenji Tei offers a delectable assortment of ramen, with noodles made fresh and matured daily. 'A good bowl of ramen,' says restaurateur Kenneth Kho, 'is when everything is fresh, especially the noodles.' Their Shōyu Ramen is good for first-timers. It will leave you satisfied with its muted flavors, delicately balancing the sweet, salty and tangy.
The Spicy Negi Miso, also a best seller at Kenji Tei, is a miso based ramen that's not overwhelmingly hot and spicy. Its broth is cloudier than the more basic Shōyu Ramen; it has that distinct miso soup texture and the Japanese onions (negi) give it a little bite.
Spicy Negi Miso
Forbes Town Center, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
(+63 2) 823-8249
Since everyone was trying to do the authentic Japanese ramen—and rather than trying to fake Japanese— the owners of Wrong Ramen decided to do the opposite: create such a ridiculous, self-deprecating ramen brand that people might either really hate or really love. And that worked for them.
Nowadays, Wrong Ramen is sought for their crazy ramen, reputed to have the most calories per bowl in the whole country. These brave, tradition-defying owners throw in things such as bacon, eggs and spam, among others, into bowls of broth and Hakata noodles. Try their: Wrong Ramen Rich Tonkotsu and Wrong Ramen Tantanmien.
Wrong Ramen Tantanmien
Branches: Tomas Morato, Quezon City and Kapitolyo, Pasig
Nomama Artisanal Ramen boasts a manly, minimalist, and Zen-like interior– a far cry from the narrow, crowded, and Hiragana-riddled noodle shops Manila is used to. Aside from exhibiting modern Japanese aesthetics, the restaurant is also keen on dispelling the notion that ramen has to be either 'shoyu' or 'miso'.
What to order when at Nomama? Their specialty ramens, of course! There's theOx Tongue and Chili Tofu Ramen and Thai Green Curry Ramen for those who want some outing from their comfort zone. But those hesitant can opt for the Nomama Ramen, which is distinctively nutty and creamy but at the same time, features the familiar miso-sesame blend of broth.
Branches: Fisher Mall and Ermita Manila
Kokoro Ramenya is a fairly new ramen restaurant, manned by Chef Susumo Murata, a former chef of Shinjuku. Like Nihonbashitei, Kokoro doesn't specialize and tries to gets its hands on different kinds of Japanese food. Despite the non-focus, its kitchen churns out some good tonkotsu-based Hakata Classic bowls.
Branches: Robinsons Manila, Greenhills, Banawe, Makati
Ajisen Ramen is a huge chain of Ramen restaurants with over 700 branches worldwide. But unlike other fast-food style ramen houses, Ajisen makes decent Tonkotsu-based bowls. When at Ajisen, try their take on Chasu Ramen (BBQ pork, leek, boiled egg, cabbage) and Beef Teppanyaki Ramen.
Did your favorite ramen place make the cut? If not, feel free to endorse them in the comments section below!