You’re craving Japanese cuisine and the unexpected? Solved. Grab a seat in a cozy spot at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen and indulge in their exquisite ramen dishes with signature rich and creamy Tonkotsu pork-based broth soup.
Japanese ramen gurus behind the success of ramen house, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen at Shangri-la Plaza, just opened their second branch in the Philippines at another premier location: SM Aura Premier, Taguig City. And I was one of the foodies who graced the food tasting event on their first soft opening full day last Saturday. 😛
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen at the second floor of SM Aura is still under construction (at least the back part where functional rooms are yet to be built), but this restaurant already guarantees that they can serve food on the menu that will make crowds feel much obliged to persuade. Each bowl of ramen brings a whale of an appetite, coupled with soy sauce, tender Chashu roast pork, premium flour imported from Japan to make the noodles, plus the enhancements: sliced red ginger pickles on the side.
Hungry? いただきます! (Let’s eat!) 🙂
Review of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen (SM Aura Premier, Taguig City)
This restaurant might seem unassuming from the outside, but inside this venue is a busy team which produces fabulous ramen and other Japanese dishes of the highest quality. The overall theme is mainly zen-like, where traditional wooden planks and dividers with hand-drawn Japanese characters appearing as backdrops are the highlights as well as the red stools that infuse modernity into the setup.
The only thing that’s a bit off to me was the startlingly loud chorus of servers and staff in the kitchen greeting “irrashaimase’s” (meaning “welcome” in Japanese). We learned later that shouting it to every customer is just common to any other ordinary restaurants in Japan that serve ramen. With their means to convey Japanese hospitality, diners can hardly hear the music playing on the background and there may be the need for customers to talk louder to continue smooth conversations while eating.
As an added info, the writings on the wooden planks are composed of an elegant essay entitled HOJOKI (“An Account of My Hut”) by Kamo no Chomei. It was recognized as a masterpiece in the Japanese essay tradition and is believed to be autobiographical. You can refer to this link to know more.
Having about twice as large as the floor area at their branch at Shangri-la Plaza, Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen at SM Aura Premier can probably fit 100 people.
All staff provided us service with a smile even when the restaurant got crowded later that night. Their efficient and gracious service was well worth our visit.
We were also lucky to meet the person who oversees the consistency of flavors: Kenji Komuro, Public Relations Director for Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Philippines from Japan.. He entertained our interview questions and so we learned a lot of things about the restaurant chain under the Yamagoya Ramen which was established in 1970.
Unlike typical Japanese restaurants you can find in Manila or the rest of the country, Ikkoryu Fukuoka does not offer traditional sushi fares, tempura and meal sets similar to Tokyo Tokyo, Teriyaki Boy, Sakae Sushi, Tempura Japanese Grill and other household-name fast food chains. Rather, they have 12 different ramen that vary in toppings, limited rice dishes, salads, deep-fried chicken and pork dishes and yummy desserts.
We had the following ramen variants:
1. Ajitama Tonkotsu (PHp 380) – Ajitama in Japanese is “boiled egg” and indeed, the boiled eggs here are the “cream of the crop.” Kenji revealed that it takes two days to prepare and make these half-boiled eggs fully marinated with special blended soy sauce base to perfection. I rate this the second best among the four in this list. 🙂
2. Special Vegetable Paste Tonkotsu (PHp 380), enhanced by a seasonal vegetable paste and aromatic oil, tasted ordinarily like the broth used in instant noodle sachets. The soup which took glorious 12 hours to cook and firm noodles may compensate for the goodness in this dish, but because I don’t eat pork, sorry to say, this one is the least favorable of the ramens we tried.
3. Black Garlic Tonkotsu (PHp 380) was blended with roast garlic oil and “juice” of boiled pork bones which brought the black garlic aroma that was very evident in the ramen’s taste. Personally, I recommend this ramen as the best among all here. 😀
4. Kimchi Tonkotsu (PHp 380) is a kimchi-inspired ramen which I didn’t quite enjoy simply because I don’t like kimchi. It’s a mix of stimulating sour and spicy flavors, salty and not bitter.
Next on the lineup was Gyoza (PHp 150). We had six pieces of wonderfully crafted Japanese dumplings. Each one had firm stuffing of minced meat — not greasy, not doughy but fresh and savory. It’s best paired with the paleo-friendly dipping sauce that came immediately after the plate of gyoza landed on our table.
Almost simultaneously, we had the Karaage (PHp 180) which comprised of boneless fried chicken complemented with light vegetables. The chicken was surprisingly moist and juicy on the inside and golden and crispy on the outside. Adding the squeezed lemon helped liven its flavor more.
Given the various choices of drinks, I easily picked iced milk tea as it’s my biggest sugar rush. Sadly, it was not available at that time. 🙁 Fresh fruit shakes sounded pretty good as well, so I ordered the banana shake (PHp 120) that was made with real bananas. Though not exactly Japanese, it was a real win—not too sweet to my palate and not too milky either. The fresh buko juice (PHp 80) on the picture was my friend Aldous’ drink.
For desserts, we devoured Ice Cream Shiratama Zenzai (PHp 180) in two flavors: Macha (Green Tea) and Sea Salt Caramel ice cream with glutinous rice balls and red bean paste. I can’t decide which one is better! 😀 Both were unique and crazy-exotic as they were made not with the usual skim milk, much sugar and butter but with fresh milk and cream.
These ice creams are so good that by the time you’ve had your final scoop of spoon, you’ll know you’ve been transformed into an insatiable addict when you still can’t help digging in scooping out the tiniest bits of leftovers.
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
When you hit up this restaurant, part of what you’re paying for is the experience. Sure, a large bowl of ramen may seem pricey at about PHp 380 but the overall experience makes this one splurge worth it. Also, prices tend to go upscale because of the premium ingredients used and the long preparation done to attain the perfect essence of food.
Marketing Manager Rizza Meriado sent word that they will be opening four branches this year all in premier locations. I guess they know exactly how to establish their target market and brand position thus follow the price to pitch.
– Group Picture with Rizza, Kenji and the bloggers –
5F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Shaw Boulevard corner Edsa, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila
For inquiries, call (02) 477-8333