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Latest Japanese resto in town wants to conquer Pinoy bellies with pork and ramen

Cheryl M. Arcibal | Updated Monday July 08, 2013 - 3:24pm

A bowl of Ajitama Tonkotsu Ramen, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen's bestseller. CHERYL M. ARCIBAL

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MANILA, Philippines- Japanese food has always been popular among Filipinos.

Sushi, sashimi, misono, karaage, teriyaki, miso soup are just some of the well-loved Japanese food here.

While these dishes are popular, Filipinos seemed to have been missing out on one Japanese food staple - ramen. Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen wants to change all that.

Banking on its signature ramen, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen is offering Filipinos a taste of what the restaurant officials say are authentic Japanese ramen (in 2000, the Japanese apparently voted ramen as Japan's best invention of the 20th century).


Kenji Komuro, public relations director to the Philippines of Ikkoryu Ramen, said that besides their ramen, they believe that the pork-loving Filipinos will find that their offering  will favor the locals' taste.

"Our ramen is very good. There's a big opportunity because people here love pork," Komuro said.

He says that although their offerings are a bit pricey, customers are in for a treat because they would be served authentic Japanese food. Ikkoryu Ramen has assigned a Japanese chef to oversee the kitchen of the two branches. In turn, Filipino chefs are being trained to eventually take over the restaurant.

But how popular is Ikkoryu Ramen in Japan?

The background information provided by the company said the restaurant is part of the Yamagoya Ramen and Y.S. Food Co. Ltd. , which is a publicly-listed corporation in Japan with annual worldwide sales estimated at 3.646 billion yen.

Headquartered in Fukuoka, the company operates over 40 restaurants in Japan including those in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities. It also operates over 150 restaurants in Taiwan, Thailand and China.

In the Philippines, Komuro says they are planning to add two more stores within the year, which will both be located in Makati.  Each of the restaurants here employs 19 Filipino staff.

"Our long-term plan here is to become the number one ramen restaurant in the Philippines," he adds.

Restaurant officials say that in Japan, people stay in ramen restaurants at a maximum of 10 minutes. Asked whether they expect Filipinos to finish their ramen quickly, restaurant officials  say that since the opening of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen's first branch in the Philippines at the Edsa Shangri-La Mall in Mandaluyong, they are able to serve an average of 500 to 600 guests daily.

No restaurant review is complete without sampling their food.

Restauant officials said Ikkoryu Ramen specializes in Chikuhou noodles, gyoza and chashu roast pork.

"The special Ikkoryu Ramen noodle, is made from flour, eggs, kansui and other ingredients that are freshly made to ensure better texture and taste. Their signature aji-tamago (soft-boiled egg) has whites and yolks that are soft. This is achieved through a stringent cooking process monitored by our head chef. All our eggs are hand-picked after they are marinated and only the best ones are served," says the information about the restaurant given to media.

Komuro told me that I should try the Ajitama Ramen and the Black Garlic Roast Ramen. For side dishes, they also served chicken karaage and gyoza.

Black garlic roast ramen is a combination of pork slices, seaweed, noodles, and black soup (presumably because of the roasted garlic). If you're looking for ramen that has some kick then this is the one for you. The garlic taste is strong but not too strong that it overwhelms the taste of the seaweed and the pork slices.

Blak Garlic Roast Ramen

I've got to say, however, that the Ajitama Ramen exceeded all my expectations. Komuro was not just doing his job as a spokesperson when he said that Ajitama is one of their bestsellers. Served with half-boiled eggs, the egg yolk melts in your toungue and gives you that rich taste that would make you want for more.

Dishes are on the pricey side (with the a bowl of ramen costing at least P380 and a side  dish or appetizer could cost as much P230).

However, if you are tired of the usual Japanese food, and you feel like trying out something new, then it's time to pay Ikkoryu Ramen a visit. And in this rainy season, who would say no to a steaming bowl of ramen?

Ikkoryu Ramen has opened two branches: Shangri-la Plaza in Mandaluyong and SM Aura Premier in Taguig City.
 

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