Japanese food has become part of our culinary landscape, and I love it.
My early exposure to this fare came via Kimpura. One of the branches of this restaurant was right beside our Makati branch of Au Bon Vivant.
I don’t remember having the courage to try sashimi or sushi then. To me, authentic Japanese cuisine was prawn tempura and beef teppanyaki with fried rice cooked in front of you. Never mind the smell that stays with you after stepping out of the restaurant.
Today, tempura and teppanyaki can be found in Japanese fast-food outlets. Even sashimi and sushi are regular offerings in their menus and many of us have learned to enjoy them.
Though Japanese dishes are now readily available in our country, are they as authentic as the ones from Japan?
Many of them are, thanks to places like Little Tokyo in Makati or high-end Japanese restaurants like Tsukiji (also in Makati) and Hanakazu in BF Parañaque. I am told that Tsukiji and Hanakazu regularly import their ingredients directly from Japan.
The newly opened Solaire Resort and Casino has a Japanese restaurant, Yakumi, which likewise flies in fresh ingredients daily from the famous Tsukiji market in Japan.
I thought that the quality of many Japanese food items served locally is even more superior to what is considered excellent Japanese cuisine. An example is tonkatsu, which I love and many restaurants here prepare very well. For someone who has been to Japan or lived there to tell me that the tonkatsu in Japan is a lot better is really hard to imagine. But when John Concepcion’s Yabu hit our shores, my view changed.
Another Japanese dish that’s been making waves in the metropolis for the past few years is ramen. My initial exposure to this noodle dish was the instant ones I buy from the Japanese groceries across Makati Cinema Square. I love them. If they were that good, then the fresh ramen must be a lot better.
This was confirmed when I went to Ukokkei in Makati along Arnaiz (formerly Pasay Road). I love its dried version of ramen. And their broths are also superior.
There are other authentic restos offering ramen, but only a few stand out. The key is the broth. Aside from Ukokkei, I found one that serves a tasty, piping-hot broth.
Ramen Bar in Eastwood is a place my business partner Ding and I crave for. There are two ramens I order here: Super Chasyu Ramen, soy-infused, topped with slices of tender chasyu or pork belly, and tamago or Japanese fish eggs; and Seafood Ramen with shio (salt)-based soup. Both are made with rich and tasty broth.
I also love its Chicken Karaage or boneless, crispy fried chicken served with a spicy sauce. I usually eat this with Chahan or Japanese fried rice. Sarap!
I also order a chilled glass of Calpis soda, a health drink that helps with digestion.
I am told that a Japanese Ramen chef set up the training and creation of the items in this resto. With the coming of the rainy season, this place will see a lot more of me. Ramen and rain go well together.
Ramen Bar is on the G/F, Eastwood Mall, E. Rodriguez (C-5 Road), QC; tel. 5709457.
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