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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!