Episode 101: Of Cravings, Large Servings, and Ramen Shokudo

Satisfying a craving for ramen is quite easy nowadays, with the dozens of Japanese restaurants popping out in the metro for the past few years. But sometimes, just grabbing the nearest bowl of ramen within reach isn’t enough. If you’re going to eat ramen, you might as well get the most satisfying noodles that you can, right?

The invitation that day was a bit sudden: Maiya was craving for ramen, and she wanted to try out Ramen Shokudo, a new Japanese ramen restaurant in Quezon City. Being the ramen fan that I always am, I agreed to accompany her to dinner.

I found out later that Ramen Shokudo was a relatively new place. The restaurant opened last February 2017, and it boasts of serving authentic Yokohama-style ramen, made with 100 percent natural ingredients and no MSG. That’s quite a tall order.

To add to the authenticity of the restaurant, the dining area is set up in a cozy bar-style with a grand view of the action in the kitchen, similar to ramen bars in Japan. The area can accommodate about 22 people, which also means you may have to fall in line before you can get seated. Just like in Japan.

First off on our meal was their gyoza, the traditional ramen side dish. The gyoza had a crispy, salty, oily feel in it, complimented by the spicy kick of their gyoza sauce.

Along with the gyoza came the curry cheese roll, their best-selling appetizer, which is basically deep-fried gooey cheese rolls with curry drizzled with Japanese mayonnaise. The taste of the savory cheese and the spicy curry blended well, especially while it was hot.

Finally, it was time for the ramen.

Ramen Shokudo’s best-selling tantanmen is a bowl of thick, dense noodles resting on a rich broth and topped with a slice of juicy chasyu, ajitama, and minced pork. The result is a rush of spicy, creamy, meaty, oily, peanut-like flavors bursting in your palate.

Maiya ordered the shoyu ramen, noodles with a mix of pork and chicken broth in a savory soy sauce base and topped with menma, scallions, and ajitama. This variety is light and mildly salty, and is recommended for those who like simple, subtle flavors in their ramen.

The servings were large and quite heavy, but we still slurped our way through the noodles like it’s the biggest thing we’ve had in life. I’ve eaten tantanmen in a lo of places, but this has been the best and the most satisfying bowl I’ve had in years.

As for Maiya, judging by her reactions, it looks like eating at Ramen Shokudo satisfied her cravings in many ways. In the end, though, she could only finish three-fourths of her ramen, and she was so full by the time we left. Yup, the ramen must have been that heavy.  Not for me though, since I finished off mine with ease, but my stomach is a different story altogether.

Perhaps it was a good thing that Ramen Shokudo didn’t have dessert; otherwise our stomachs and waistlines would have been busted afterwards… except she started asking about that crepe shop I casually mentioned on the way home. Maybe next time.

———————————–

Ramen Shokudo
401 Banawe St., Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City
Tel. No.: (02) 247 7873

———————————————————————-

P.S. It’s been months since I last blogged about food. Sure, I get to post on Instagram about my latest food adventures, but I’ve never had the time to write here. Looks like this latest assignment is my wake-up call to start eating – and writing – again.

Advertisements

Episode 97: Local cuisine and more at the Valenzuela Food Fiesta!

valenzuela-food-fiestaComing over to Valenzuela this December? Then take the time to go on a food trip!

Residents and visitors of Valenzuela City were in for an early Christmas treat with the opening of the Valenzuela Food Fiesta this Friday, December 2. Over thirty food outlets are participating in this weekend food festival. Foodies can hang out and try out snacks, barbecues, desserts, and other local products that the city has to offer.

The festival was opened to highlight Valenzuela’s food businesses, and give the city’s entrepreneurs a venue to showcase their products and culinary expertise.

dsc_0015dsc_0021When it comes to food, Valenzuela City takes pride of the putong pulo, a rice cake originally created in the town of Polo. The rice cake is steamed, mixed with annatto (atsuete) to give its reddish color, and topped with cheese.

This local favorite is known for its versatility as a side treat with various dishes. Residents would create artistic versions of the putong pulo, making it one of the highlights of the Feast of San Diego de Alcala, celebrated every November 12.

dsc_0022 dsc_0023 dsc_0024With Valenzuela’s continuous economic growth, more food establishments are opening up in the city. It’s not just the putong pulo, but even the city’s potential as a food hub is gaining attention, especially with its growing population of students. This rapid growth is creating more opportunities and opening a wide variety of places to dine in for food lovers. These establishments will surely find a place to shine and reach out to more people with the opening of events such as the Valenzuela Food Fiesta.

dsc_0027 dsc_0029 dsc_0033 dsc_0034The Valenzuela Food Fiesta is located at CJ Santos Street (in front of the Justice Hall or old City Hall). It will be open every Friday and Saturday for the rest of December from 5pm to 2am.

(I apologize for not adding a lot of food pictures here; it’s been a long while since I last wrote anything, and eating out isn’t part of the budget nowadays.)

 

Episode 89: A taste of the world’s best street food

Street food is a well-ingrained part of society. It’s all about casual dining enjoyed anytime with the best flavors at the most affordable prices. Being able to see, smell, and taste the best in street food is a unique experience, and what fitting way to do so than in one of the world’s best food destinations, the Philippines.

The World Street Food Congress Jamboree, which opened at Bonifacio Global City, offers everyone a chance to savor street food from around the world.

Twenty-five food stalls from the US and Asia (including the Philippines) are showcasing various snack dishes, rice meals, barbecues, and desserts, all for as low as P200. The venue is jam-packed as early as the first day, but with all the buzz and scents around, you’ll never get tired waiting in line. This is definitely one place where you can have local cuisine that’s no-frills, no-extenders, all-flavor, and worth every centavo.

By now many have recommended dozens of their favorites from the jamboree, but that’s not stopping me from sharing my own recommendations. They’re a bit pricy but worth every centavo.

Pasta Bicolandia, Bicolano Wellington, Level 1 Chili Ice Cream (Philippines)
Savor the legendary spiciness that makes Bicol Region famous in one plate. Start the fiery palate flamenco with the Bicolano Wellington, stuffed chunks of Bicol Express. Kick up the tempo with the Pasta Bicolandia, creamy pasta with meaty chunks and chili bits. The chili ice cream puts a sweet finish into this set.

Penang Laksa by Wan Dao Tou Penang Assam Laksa (Malaysia)
Tamarind, hae ko (sweet prawn paste), chili, ginger, and mint leaves bring a salvo of flavors into this Malaysian noodle dish. The fish flakes and the savory broth complete the dish, giving diners at taste of how authentic laksa is like. (Lee Ee Quen, the owner of Wan Dao Tou, was crowned the Champion in the Assam Laksa category in the Battle of Penang Hawkers 2011.)
Braised Zhu Hou Chicken by Xu Jing Ye (China)
Chef Xu Jing Ye brings to the Philippines this representative dish from Guangdong, China. The vendors say it’s similar to Hainanese chicken, but there’s a stronger salty-fatty-savory kick in this chicken dish. This is topped with Foshan specialty sauce, made from a combination of soy bean, salt, sugar, sesame seed and light soy sauce, to add balance.
Ayam Taliwang by Ayam Taliwang Bersuda (Indonesia)
Ayam Taliwang is a grilled chicken dish from Lombok, Indonesia. The chicken is marinated with bird’s eye chili, and served with a pelecing (water spinach) salad and sticks of satay. The smoky, roasty aroma of this chicken is enough to awaken an appetite. Be warned, though: the Ayam Taliwang is dangerously spicy!
Smoked Chili Grilled Tofu Bao by The Cinnamon Snail (USA)
Healthy flavors have a special place in the street food jamboree with this vegetarian bun stuffed with sautéed kimchi pickled basil and onion, and sambal alek cream.  Vegetarians will enjoy this mildly strong yet calming snack.

There’s much to look forward to at the street food jamboree this year. One can marvel at how rich each country’s food culture is, given the local ingredients they make do with, and the kinds of dishes they come up with at homes, on the streets, or any place where it’s comfortable to eat. It plainly shows that everyone at every place around the world has a unique way of showing how much they love their food.

 

The World Street Food Congress Jamboree runs until April 24, at Federacion Drive corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, from 4pm to 11pm until Friday, 12pm to 11pm on Saturday, and 12pm to 9pm on Sunday.

For more information, visit their website at: http://wsfcongress.com/

Episode 85: Food Choices and More at the Gustos Night Market

Food markets are aplenty in Metro Manila, but nowadays it’s not just good or reasonably priced food, or a good location, that draws in foodies and other patrons from all walks of life. We dropped by Gustos Night Market, recently set up near Forum Robinsons in Mandaluyong, to check out what makes this place unique.

First of course is the food. Ever since it first opened last January 8, Gustos Night Market has offered a wide selection of food choices. You can spot new and familiar concessionaires serving a variety of meals, from snacks and sandwiches, to rice meals and the occasional barbecue. And since the food market runs from Wednesday night to Friday night, there’s always something new to look forward to.

The venue itself makes for a relaxing atmosphere. The area gets cool and windy at night, so guests can feel comfortable even if the place is crowded. The organizers made sure it gives off a formal, international buffet type of vibe, from the set-up to the tables and chairs reserved for customers.

It also helps that Gustos Night Market offers nightly entertainment featuring up-and-coming performers. We for one would like to see new musical talent featured in their stage soon, as there’s a welcoming crowd right there.
You could be surprised what kind of crowd you join up with.
Speaking of crowds, the food market is surrounded by BPO companies and other offices where employees are welcome to dine, listen to music, and relax. Good thing the market is continuously kept spic and span and secured, though it would help for customers to be mindful of their belongings and garbage.
Gustos Night Market’s organizers say it will open soon in more locations. So far, Bonifacio Global City is in their immediate sights, but if you want to see where else they intend to pop out, following them on Facebook and Instagram is your best option. 
We’re looking forward to seeing more food choices and improvements in Gustos Night Market. The crowds are getting bigger anytime soon, and so will the market itself. Besides, it’s not always weekly (or much of the week) that you find a classy, comfy food market to visit when your munchies sense demands for some unlimited grub grabs and then some.
——————————–
Gustos Night Market is located at the open parking area of Forum Robinsons, Robinsons Road, Mandaluyong City. It’s open on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, 8:00pm to 4:00am.