5 Questions About Eating Ramen In Manila Answered By A Japanese

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A lot of Manila ramen restaurants opened recently, and most of them are Japanese brands and franchises. In 2013 alone, approximately 20 ramen restaurants opened their doors, and it looks like there are more to come.

The popularity of ramen has grown more and more among Filipinos, but do you really know ramen like the Japanese do?

From my point of view (as a Japanese person), here’s everything you need to know about ramen:

How do you eat ramen?

Which do you eat first, the noodles or the soup? Either is fine, but I recommend that you taste the soup first. Put some of the broth in the “renge” (a special spoon used for soups) and taste it. With your mouth still warm from the soup, grab some noodles with your chopsticks and give them a taste.

How to Eat Ramen

When eating the noodles, don’t worry about slurping! It’s not a problem and is even encouraged! Taking in air while slurping up noodles into your mouth is good for eating ramen. This is called “susuru.” It’s a little difficult to master at first, but learn this technique, and you’ll be that much closer to the authentic Japanese way of eating ramen.

If you’ve eaten all the noodles and are still not full, empty out the bowl by drinking the rest of the soup. Then say “Gochisousamadeshita,” a traditional Japanese phrase said after meals.

What to eat with ramen?

A good side dish for ramen that you’ll find on most menus is gyoza. When Japanese people eat ramen and ask for a side menu, probably more than half of them order gyoza.

Ramen Gyoza

Photo by Ben Hancock

It’s the typical accompaniment for ramen, as the two make for a good combination. Other than gyoza, rice with toppings is also a popular complementary dish. Most ramen restaurants will serve different kinds, some offer rice with chashu, while others offer rice with spring onions.

With whom do you go to a ramen restaurant?

Unlike most Filipinos, many Japanese people actually visit ramen restaurants alone. When I go to a ramen place for lunch in Japan, I often see customers dining by themselves.

Anti-Loneliness-Ramen-Bowl

The Anti-Loneliness Ramen Bowl by MisoSoupDesign

It’s very different from what Filipinos are used to. Ramen restaurants in Japan are mostly viewed as casual dining establishments, which make them good places to grab something to eat when without company.

When do Japanese go to a ramen restaurant?

Japanese people eat ramen whenever they are hungry. For lunch, for dinner, after drinking, etc. You might be surprised to hear that Japanese eat ramen after drinking, but this is very typical behavior.

Ramen-Night

Photo by Justin C.

It sounds a little unbelievable, but to a lot of Japanese, you could say ramen is sort of like an after-drinks dessert!

Which ramen restaurants in Manila do Japanese like?

For Japanese people here in Manila, it’s easy to distinguish “real” ramen from “fake” ramen. Most will avoid places that serve the latter. Let me share some of the places we frequent for the real thing:

For tonkotsu lovers, try Ramen Nagi, Ramen Yushoken, or Hanamaruken Ramen.

Ramen-Yushoken

Ramen Yushoken’s Shoyu Tonkotsu by Patty M.

For those who like miso, try Ramen Daisho. If you prefer shio-based ramen, try Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. And lastly, Mitsuyado Sei-Men is best for those that want to get some tsukemen.

I would say that these are places that serve “real” Japanese ramen, with that unmistakable Japanese flavor. There might be other places that serve good ramen, so don’t be afraid to try other places as well!

Here’s to enjoying ramen more!

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About Author

Gaku Nakamura

Gaku Nakamura is the founder and COO of RareJob Inc., an English tutorial service in Japan and the Philippines. When he’s in Manila, he enjoys visiting and trying out different Japanese restaurants and sharing his experiences at these places with others.

75 Comments

  1. Nice article. The way to eat ramen alone somehow suits my personality and lifestyle. Suggestion, you guys should also include Kuroda Ramen located inside BF Homes Parañaque along Aguirre road.

    • Ukkokei Sucks on

      Ukkokei is mediocre at best. People only think it’s good cause it was one of the first to arrive here. They have horrible noodles and their soup tastes like it has ungodly amounts of MSG.

      • Dylan Dylanco on

        I think it depends on what you order. I don’t trust anyone else when it comes to my bowl of Miso. Ukkokei serves the best one for me, next to Kichitora which is a good hybrid with tonkotsu for the thick broth.

      • If you talk to Japanese expats here in Manila, the majority would probably say it is still the most authentic ramen in town.

      • disqus_LxnnAdIZy3 on

        Hi have tried Ukkokei, their ramen is actually good, but i still love Ramen Yushoken the most

      • ukkokei is still top 3 for me but you are right with the ungodly amounts of MSG.

        order the kara miso (spicy spicy) so you get ungoldy MSG++ but its super yum lol

      • I think ramen really depends on the personal preference of the diner. If you find yourself starting to grow tired of the ramen place that you go to, cycle around and eat the others and after a while you will feel and start to like the one that you grew tired of.

  2. I am very pleased with Ramen Nagi . I probably eat there at least once a week. I just got to try Yushoken, I was left underwhelmed but I’ll give it another try. Most people I know prefer Yushoken over Nagi.

  3. my family loves ramen nagi. we tried hokkaido ramen something from glorietta, it wasn’t so bad. what’s the difference between soba and ramen? i tried tempura soba from moshi koshi and i didn’t finish it..

    • Soba I think is made from buckwheat. It is a different kind of noodle. Cold soba noodles has it’s own appeal on my tastebuds as well! 😀

  4. Dunced Emperor on

    I dont know if its authentic or not, (since I never tasted something straight from Japan XD)…. but my auntie and I loved “Kokoro Ramen” at Fishermall located along quezon avenue quezon city, we saw many Japanese (well judging by their spoken language) eating there, so we thought it was authentic, and it did not disappoint… 🙂

  5. อัลวิ่น ซูตาเรซ on

    i brought my friend who have lived in japan for more than 30 years and she really liked the ramen in mitsuyado-seimen. i love ramen and even without knowing that this should be accompanied with gyoza, i usually eat my ramen with gyoza.

  6. Danny Goleña Reyes on

    I enjoy eating in Ramen Tei and in Shinjuku Ramen before. In Japan I always eat Ramen in train station.

  7. This is very helpful news bit. This weekend i will eat ramen with gusto strutting some Japanese words., Arigato Gosaymas ( i hope i spelled it right else Ai Ai will be my defender)

  8. Food is always a amtter of personal preference.. if you like a particular ramen place (or any place for that matter) whether it is “authentic” or not, go there, It is you who will eat (and pay for) the food. Enjoy food because you like it not because it is in someone else’s “Best of ” list.

    • Sure, you may be right about the first sentence, but you just don’t get it. The article is not exactly about authenticity, but more like a cultural/sentimental upbringing. Ramen is part of the Japanese’s daily lives, comparable to our rice, pandesal, or special “lutong ulam” in different provinces. Imagine if you start working in a different country, then longing for your beloved Adobo, Sisig, Sinigang, Bibingka or Balut and suddenly you decide to go to a nearby “Filipino-themed” restaurant offering such, only to realize that, after eating, “It tasted great! …but this isn’t it.” When the taste is different, the feeling is different. It doesn’t satisfy you because what you’re currently eating doesn’t bring you back to your mother’s cooking. That’s where you long for authenticity. The author never spoke of anything tasting bad or not according to his “preferences,” he just compared them feels.

      • Sounds to me that you do not “get it”, minion. Try reading the article again, especially towards the end where the author list restaurants serving authentic foods.

  9. Xareena Dizon on

    Thanks for the insight! We must visit those places you mentioned above. Looking forward to taste more Ramen here in the Ph. 🙂

  10. Ceej Caringal on

    Hokkaido Ramen Santouka is my favorite! I love the shoyu-based ramen with fried Salmon instead of gyoza. The ambiance is somewhat japanese-like and the crew are very friendly.

  11. Could you please try out Ramen Bar @ the Piazza place in McKinley hill, taguig, and let us know how close their rameb is to the authentuc Japanese ramen? Thanks!

  12. Sunkissedhana on

    I wonder why you didn’t include Ukokei. I think that’s the most authentic Ramen Place in Manila prior the latter places popped out.

  13. I think the Filipino version of ramen restaurants in Japan would be the “Lugawan” where you eat “Lugaw” or rice porridge, since you said that ramen restaurants are places to grab something to eat when without company. Also “Lugaw” is what the Pinoys eat after a heavy night of drinking, same thing like you said that to a lot of Japanese, they eat ramen as an after-drinks desert. 🙂

    • Ramen restaurants are places where families also go and usually are open usual eating times, not when the bars close.

  14. Aedrian Mateo Alcaraz on

    “after-drinks desert” that being said, we, Filipinos also have that kind of thing, though with something more local, the “Maming-Gala” 😀

    Anyway, thank you for this post and I’m looking forward to try those places you’ve mentioned as I am planning to run my own Ramen shack, not a fancy and expensive one.. Still planning it though.

    Thank you.. 😀

  15. Mitsukai Kuroi on

    Here in Davao, the best Japanese restaurant would be Nonki in Torres St. But when it comes to ramen, it would be Tsuru across the People’s Park. 🙂

  16. I eat ramen in little tokyo at makati. idk the exact place but I think it’s good because I can see them having Japanese customer as well ^-^

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