In the past, any claim that a specialty food or cuisine was authentic—whether pizza, pasta, shawarma, roast beef, Vietnamese, Thai—was accepted as truth.
People once raved about a ramen place on Pasay Road, how they would dream about it. Being the curious foodie, I went and tried it. Good, but nothing outstanding to write about.
Budget airfares have made travel easier, and the popularity of culinary schools with foreign chefs or foreign-educated local chefs has exposed us to authentic international cuisines. Comparisons were made and eyes opened.
The ramen scene in the country suddenly has jumped to a high level.
Nanbantei and Ukkokei used to be the most popular places for ramen. Things changed when Ramen Nagi opened, followed by Ippudo, Santouka and Ikkoryu.
On my culinary tours to Japan, I go to Ramen Alley in Hokkaido.
Ichiran is a Michelin-star, 10-seat ramen place with outstanding scallop ramen. Broth is tasty, noodles firm and giant scallops taste fresh. With a little spicy powder or Japanese pepper on top, it’s heaven. This is a regular stop on my Hokkaido tour.
In Alabang, recently, I got to visit Yushoken. The waiter recommended the Super Chashu which I ordered with the best gyoza in town.
The gyoza had a dipping sauce of soy vinegar that I spiked with chili oil. The thin wrapper was a bit chewy and crispy, while the pork filling had the crunch of chopped cabbage. With the gyoza now open, the sauce penetrated, making it taste even better.
My bowl of piping-hot ramen had a thick and cloudy pork broth, the entire surface covered with grilled round pork belly, strips of radish and bamboo shoots, chopped spring onions, toasted sesame seeds and chopped red chili. I surprised myself as I was able to take a picture before diving in. Usually, I forget out of katakawan.
The noodles were chewy and firm, and the broth blended well with it. When I took a bite of the grilled chashu, I wanted to faint. The meat was so tender and tasty, the fat melted in your mouth and the charred flavor of the belly just did wonders to the overall taste of this ramen. Of course, I finished everything.
I am told Yushoken has a branch in Salcedo, Makati, called Mendokoro. I will visit it one day. I was also told the guy behind it is Elbert Cuenca. Congratulations!
Even by Japan standards, Yushoken is the real deal. Check it out.
Yushoken is at Cluster 20, Molito Lifestyle Bldg., Zapote Road, Madrigal Ave., Alabang, Muntinlupa.
My next Japan food tours will be on Nov. 25-30 in Fukuoka-Hiroshima and Osaka, and Nov 18-23 in Hokkaido. E-mail [email protected]
Follow the columnist: sandydaza.blogspot.com; Twitter: @sandydaza