I can’t say that Ramen bars are common spectacles in Manila, and neither are they hailed as hunger busters, as my hometown doesn’t exactly harbor a magnanimous noodle crowd. Sad to say, the people I share the same air (and pollution) with are more of the rice variety. The absence of rice in any meal may signal a threat to future generations, so it is always best to maintain rice meals in the menu, no matter how unsophisticated, unphotographic and messy they may seem.
Newly opened Ramen X at Trinoma should signal the emergence of my people, the noodle crowd and ramen lovers. This definitely signaled our weekend dining. That giant X embossed on the door offers its leviathan welcome to those who worship ramen, above rice and other lowly carbs.
The location may be a bit tricky; considering Trinoma as a second home, my best direction would be, “Near the C places: Cibo, Chapel and Cabalen.” That should at least get you to the right floor.
The place is sprightly, urban, Oriental, with mirrors covering all angles, and the line-up-and-order approach you can expect from Ramen bars. If you think the mirrors are the best part, then go ahead and gloat, but the McArthur in me (“I shall return.”) was summoned by the satisfaction of my frugal self.
At P99 or P129 per bowl, the ramen is eXpress, ineXpensive and eXciting (to eat). The bowls are huge and the toppings satisfactory, so for this weekend dining spree, it's definitely “Itadakimasu!”
[caption id="attachment_1395" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Karaage Ramen"][/caption]
The soy-based ramen provides that Japanese-y flavor that other local noodle shops deprive us of, and instead feed us that awful beef stock. Topped with Naruto, cabbage, onions, egg and wee bits of chicken karaage, the ramen is light but highly satisfying for its price. While the noodles are not exactly premium soba level (that’s asking too much), at least they’re not the salty, plump I’ve-seen-better-days-overcooked leftovers that would make Naruto beckon the Nine-Tails inside his belly in fury. Lightly chewy but satiating nevertheless, I don’t see any X’s here, only checks from my abysmal belly.
[caption id="attachment_1388" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Chikuwa Ramen"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_1390" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Oishi Ramen"][/caption]
Chikuwa and Oishi Ramen
Bigger bowls for the carnivorous boys. The Chikuwa (Japanese fish tubes) rouses Oriental noodle fantasies, with its deep-sea flavor, while the Oishi Ramen is the supremo bowl and the premium offering of Ramen X. I watched Onichan and Ossan slurp down their bowls in a matter of minutes, interspersed with drinking and catching their breath (They had to; we asked for chili). While Ossan questioned the authenticity of the ramen, I believe that my frugality has created a bubble of protection around Ramen X’s standards, and so I found myself telling him that we are in Manila, not Okinawa.
The Gyoza and Karaage sidings at P39 each are appealingly cheap and can instantly lure that impulsive nature. The soft opening though included only the main deals, so the gyoza still has not made its way to their kitchen. As for the karaage, I feared that the poultry redundancy in my meal might not be met with much glee by my belly.
There are toppings that can be bought at P15 or P30 each: boiled egg, kimchi and green onions among others—to those who feel like garnishing their bowls further. Taste-wise though, there is nothing to add and if any, a cup of house tea would be much appreciated.
[caption id="attachment_1393" align="aligncenter" width="614" caption="Ramen get it!"][/caption]
In the midst of untangling my ramen noodles, pouring chili oil and just savoring the emptiness of the place, the theme from One Piece (“We Are”) blasted from the speakers. Ah yes, Luffy and his Mugiwara Kaizoku (“Strawhat Pirates”) crew and Ramen. Not even the mirrors could give me that kind of noodle high.
How about you play the Bleach OST next time? Or give out One Piece-inspired Strawhats to lucky diners?
Uh-oh, I suppose I did get that weekend-noodle high.
(By the way, this weekend post was inspired by Tara Let's Eat's weekend eating meme.)