When people think of ramen, tonkotsu, shoyu or miso broth ramen would first come to mind. But there’s also dry ramen. Known as Mazesoba, it’s actually a common dish in Japan. Mazesoba literally translates to mixed noodles, and it’s one of the best iterations of soupless ramen you can try now.
Originating from Tokyo, Japan, Menya Kokoro by Japanese Chef Takuma Ishikawa specializes in tasty bowls of mazesoba, and the good news is that it’s now in the Philippines! We visited its first branch in Uptown Mall, BGC last weekend and had a great dining experience. At Menya Kokoro, soba made from whole wheat noodles is made fresh and it’s mixed with the house special sauce and signature ingredients that are all good and tasty.
Review of Menya Kokoro (Uptown Place Mall, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig)
The setting at Menya Kokoro in Uptown Mall is casual and cozy. At the far end of the dining room (behind the counter) are chefs who seriously know what they’re doing as they craft bowls of beautifully done noodles with rich sauce and fresh and interesting ingredients. With washed out gray wall, the ambiance is where you want to feel calm but not catatonic. It exudes elegance and the combination with wooden fixtures couldn’t be more perfect. The palette presented is a great style for a modern Japanese restaurant. Tall glass windows bring a reflective natural lighting to the space.
For our appetizer, we tried their Takoyaki (PhP 140) which came with a contrasting sweet and savory taste. Topped with a generous amount of Japanese mayo and bonito flakes, this delicious Japanese treat was fried on the outside while the inside remained gooey. Yum!
Apart from Takoyaki, Menya Kokoro’s Karaage (PhP 200) was lovely as well. The Japanese-style fried chicken was juicy and came out light, crispy, and solid on flavor. It’s a total crowd-pleaser.
For the mains, we got their best sellers, Tokyo Mazesoba (PhP 350) for me and Zenbu Mazesoba (PhP 470) for Louie. We’re told that the best way to eat a bowl of mazesoba is to mix everything evenly. Tokyo Mazesoba had a mix of elements such as the spring onions, chives, and runny egg over a medley of minced meat. I liked the springy and chewy texture of the noodles, and the thickness was also quite satisfying for every bite. Adding a splash of their kombu vinegar can help cut through the creaminess of the sauce. Portion your noodles and give this a try!
With almost the same components as the Tokyo Mazesoba plus more, the Zenbu Mazesoba looked more enticing and it also burst with savory flavor. Give them a good toss and relish the delicious explosion of flavors! The bamboo shoots and slow-braised char siu (braised pork belly) were definitely great additions to the dish.
Both Zenbu and Tokyo Maseoba are available (per request) in a non-spicy version. We tried the spicy version and the heat was tolerable. I think spice-lovers will love this rendition.
All their mazesoba are served with a complimentary bowl of mushroom shoyu (soya sauce) soup on the side–not to be poured over the bowl of mazesoba. Once you’re almost done eating the noodles but still have a handful of tasty ingredients and sauce in the bowl, raise your hand and ask for the Oimeshi. It’s Japanese rice that goes perfectly when mixed with the remaining sauce and toppings.
For desserts, we had their Matcha Ice Cream (PhP 90) and Kurogoma Ice Cream (PhP 90). Both these ice cream flavors remind me of our Japan trip, particularly Arashiyama and Kuromon Ichiba Market. More than the matcha though, here I liked the black sesame more because of its creamy sweet nutty finish.
Price for Value:
Menya Kokoro is the largest mazesoba restaurant chain in Japan, and it’s definitely showing no signs of slowing down. Here, even without the soupy ramen, there’s no denying the beauty of a great bowl of mazesoba. The springy noodles, the great quality of ingredients, and the creaminess of the sauce all bring a successful dish that justifies a good value for its price tag. It’s pure bliss, even on the hottest of days, and the good news is there are more variations of mazesoba you can expect to try at Menya Kokoro in the coming months. Check it out.