Nothing beats a good bowl of ramen. At this point, most people that ramen is Japan’s version or adaptation of Chinese noodles with broth and roasted pork; and if you didn’t, well, chalk it up as something new you’ve learned for the day.
I love ramen. In fact, I used to frequent a ramen restaurant in Manila when I was still a college student, even with my limited budget. It was a monthly or bi-monthly treat for myself, particularly during my senior year and during the wet rainy season.
Fast forward to 2019, where ramen restaurants have boomed all over the Metro. I am now a working man and can actually afford to have a bowl of hot ramen on a weekly basis (but I don’t). I may be corrected for this since I don’t know the ramen scene during the 80s and 90s, but based on personal memory, there are way more ramen restaurants now than ever before.
Gyoza – Php180
Shio (salt), Shōyu (soy sauce), Hakata (pork bone broth), and Curry, are just some of the most popular styles from the majority of the numerous restaurants here and there, but my favorite has always been flavorful Miso ramen that has its roots in Sapporo, Hokkaido. It is said to be best during the harsh and cold seasons.
Karaage – Php220
King Men Ramen is an interesting concept. They are not a franchise from Japan. Their mother company’s main business is in the automotive industry, and their first shop is located inside NAIA 3. However, their bowls of ramen are some of the tastiest ones in town.
Chef Kenneth doing his thing
There is also a fun story to be told here since everything started out at a conference in Japan, which served ramen with Nishiyama ramen noodles. Mr. Thotie Torres of Yazaki-Torres loved the noodles so much that he looked for the producer Mr. Nishiyama and hit it off. A year later, the new King Men teamwent to Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan to plan everythinh out. Chef Kenneth went into intensive training for a week, where he lived on nothing but ramen to get everything right.
Fun fact: Nishiyama noodles differs from other ramen noodles due to the added egg and a manufacturing technique giving off a curly yellowish noodle with a stretchy and firm bite to it.
Vegetable based Miso Ramen – Php450
Like any good local ramen joint, most of the ingredients came from Japan (except for the vegetables and protein); and to give off that authentic feel, even the tableware was imported from Sapporo. They also hired ramen consultant Sakei Ishida for their menu, though there is one original idea from King Men in there: the vegetable ramen. Vegetarians or people who just can’t have pork can now rejoice because there is finally an option aside from a bowl of seafood ramen. And how good is it? I’d say that the stock has a clean taste to it, but tit astes very close to the usual pork-chicken based stock used by other ramen restaurants.
Shio Ramen – Php400
Text book shio ramen in salt-pork and chicken broth flavored with roasted garlic and onion oil topped with char siu, fermented bamboo shoots, leeks, bean sprouts, Ajitsuke tamago, and nori. A popular and safe option for first-time ramen eaters.
Shōyu Ramen – Php400
Another popular ramen is the soy souce-based shōyu ramen. Unlike the shio ramen which uses salt, this one is a soy souce-pork and chicken-based stock with a sweeter flavor.
Miso Ramen – Php450
My personal favorite is the miso-based ramen that uses a miso-pork and chicken stock with a sweet and buttery flavor to it. Unlike the shio and shōyu ramen, this is slightly thicker and richer, but not as overwhelming like the popular Hakata style ramen which has a rich, milky, pork-bone tonkotsu broth. Order a topping of sweet corn for another Php60 and this could be one of the best bowls of ramen you’ll ever have.
Aside from the bowls of ramen, we were also served chahan (Japanese fried rice), gyoza (dumplings filled with ground meat and vegetables with the shell imported from Sapporo, as well), and chicken karaage. Describing how good the flavors are is quite tough because they really ar as good as any served by great Japanese restaurants out there. However, I do want to highly commend the karaage as it isn’t greasy yet still remains juicy at the same time.
Of course, they have desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth, as well. The choco yema cake seemed to be the favorite during our visit. The cake is moist, the ganache isn’t too thick and there is a filling of yema topped of with dulce de leche. The blueberry cheesecake is a textbook cheesecake (in a good way). Tangy, salty, and sweet with not a hint of gelatin used. However, my personal favorite is the chewy and nutty sansrival.
After testing the waters at NAIA 3, King Men Ramen will soon open up shop in BGC – just a couple of blocks away from my office.