Hitting the spot in Tokyo as Ramen Nagi and in Hong Kong as Butao, Ramen Nagi Manila was opened in December 2013 by Ramen Master Ikuta Satoshi. Tasting different flavors of ramen is a great deal for ramen lovers in Manila today, and tomorrow could be better.

Gone are the days when we are much satisfied with cheaply packaged noodles only. With more and more ramen joints, we learn to better appreciate noodles with spring and bounce, tender and luscious toppings and rich flavor of ramen broth. These are three elements that we had happily found in Ramen Nagi Manila, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City, one of the best restaurants serving specialty ramen now in the Philippines.

Review of Ramen Nagi Manila (SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City)

Ambiance: ★★

Since we came at the peak of lunch hour, it’s no surprise that the line started forming heavily from the outside. The ambiance of Ramen Nagi at SM MOA was busy and bustling; the setting, very casual. Cramped tables and chairs greeted us as we went in. There were no privacy booths to eat tonkotsu ramen and no other frills to look around except for the pictures of ramen and actual ramen bowls hanged up as accents on the wall behind.

Service: ★★★★

We initially asked for a reservation, however the staff said that they don’t allow reservations when customers are not physically present. This is understandable since the seating capacity is limited. So I suggest you plan an early outing before the small place gets filled up.

While waiting for two tables inside to be available (to accommodate seven of us), it was nice that they offered us to be seated outdoors and start deciding what to order. Fortunately, wait time didn’t take too long. Staffs were professional and efficient, with tables turning fairly quickly.

Food: ★★★★

G, H and I wanted to sample more ramen flavors than what our stomach could handle and finish in one sitting. Hence, we brought along some members of the family to join in our taste test. Indeed, the more, the merrier! 😀 We finished five variants of Ramen Nagi ramen (distributed to seven small bowls) and shared one short order of gyoza.

The Way to Order

Customers are given a sheet of paper to mark for their orders. This is what’s called the Omotenashi style. As first-timers, we were advised to select and follow the Chef’s Recommendation but we didn’t. Instead, we thought about using our right to customize according to our liking. Following the written instruction on the paper, we had encircled varying items for every bowl of ramen to differentiate.

Here are the choices:

  • Richness of Taste: Light, Normal or Rich
  • Special Sauce: None, Light, Normal, Heavy, Extra Heavy
  • Garlic: None, Light, Normal, Heavy, Extra Heavy
  • Pork: None, Pork Shoulder, Pork Loin or Pork Belly
  • Vegetable: None, Green Onion, or Cabbage
  • Butao Home Made Fire Sauce: Spiciness level 1-10
  • Noodles Texture: Extra Hard, Hard, Normal, Soft, Very Soft
  • Add Ons: Tamago, Pork Shoulder or Pork Belly, Nori (Seaweed), Extra Noodles, Green Onion, Cabbage, Kikurage

Green King Ramen – Nagi’s fusion of gourmet cultures

The Green King (Midorio) (PhP 410) could be put as Japanese ramen that’s infused and inspired with Italian cooking as it’s oozing with pesto flavor and topped with Parmesan cheese, basil and olive oil. Love trying fusion food or anything unique? This one’s for you. The broth mixed with pesto is so rich that it can coat your mouth and throat as you slurp on it. Mmmmm…yummy!

Original King Ramen – Luscious signature tonkotsu pork-broth

The Original King (Butao) (PhP 390) is probably the most basic and simple-tasting bowl of ramen in Ramen Nagi. If you just want to taste Ramen Nagi’s tonkotsu broth and hakata noodles to its original form, get this. Every element was so well executed—from the rich, savory tonkotsu broth to the bright, fresh toppings. I just wanted to dive in and demolish my share of this ramen variant at once.

To give it some much needed pep, I suggest that you add on Aji Tamago (PhP 50) like we did. 😉 The soft-boiled eggs were soft on the outside and liquid-y yolk on the inside, just perfect.

Red King Ramen – The ultimate in savory spiciness

Next, I’m extraordinarily happy to report that the Red King (Akao) (PhP 410) was actually the best one we’ve tried! With that said, hot and spicy food lovers (myself included) must not skip this flavor when figuring out what to order in Ramen Nagi. With a fireball of miso-minced pork and the hottest cayenne pepper as toppings, the Red King Ramen Akao had a hot, assertive red broth that’s beautifully spiced. Oh, how I wish throat/cough medicine tasted like this! 🙂

Black King Ramen – Sumptuous jet-black aroma and flavor

My least favorite was the Black King (Kuroo) (PhP 410), which I’ve heard, is the crowd’s favorite. Nevertheless, I commend the creativity of incorportaing squid (calamari) ink and blackened garlic with tonkotsu broth. The soup’s texture did not suffer flatness but satisfied on that deep, visceral level that any superb ramen should. There was also a little mound of spicy chili mixture we could sense in the blend.

The Ebi King Ramen (PhP 410) – Limited edition

Ramen Nagi serves limited editions of ramen occasionally. We had the chance to order one of them: the Ebi King (Ebio). This ramen had a thick prawn bisque broth, nothing that you’d call traditional by any stretch of the imagination. The dried shrimp taste was really evident, with a right balance of saltiness! Was it worth a try? Definitely. This is one of the more unique and delicious things on the menu.

Ramen Nagi’s sizzling Gyoza Dumplings (PhP 125) were well-steamed, with more vegetables than meat. The fillings were light and juicy. With golden brown bottoms, the crusty skin stayed crisp as it was served. The gyoza wasn’t so remarkable but quite respectable.

Price for Value: ★★★★☆

Much had been written about Ramen Nagi Manila’s sumptuous ramen, but knowing about it through blogs and word-of-mouth is never enough. You have to taste the ramen (at least one bowl/one flavor) and get the dining experience yourself.

Final verdict: At PhP 400+ per bowl, ramen here isn’t cheap but the quality and taste of the ramen were so good, making us want to eat more. (Can you blame us?) 😛 Plus, the serving size is big so a bowl can easily be shared between two or three people. I award Ramen Nagi 4/5 stars for price for value.

Aside from their branch in SM MOA, Ramen Nagi Manila also has branches in SM Aura, SM North EDSA and Robinsons Magnolia. If you’re far from these places, all I can say is… make the pilgrimage as it’s really worth it! 🙂

Ground Floor, South Wing, Mall of Asia Complex (MOA), Pasay City
For inquiries, call (02) 5502394
Date Published: 07/24/2014
17 / 20 stars

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67 Responses

    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Aww if you come to Hong Kong, Philippines or Japan, don’t forget to grab a bowl. Ramen Nagi’s noodles are a prize possession — thick, chewy, and immensely satisfying.

      Reply
  1. Samantha Angell

    That looks great! I’ve only recently started to hear of Ramen places becoming popular- otherwise, I had always thought of Ramen as the 25 cent cheap meal college kids eat!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Instant cooking ramen, maybe yes? But not this one. Preparing one bowl of ramen requires lots of time and effort, plus the desire to do things right. 😀

      Reply
  2. Franc Ramon

    This is just perfect this season. You are so lucky that this is so close to your office too. They also have unique flavors here too.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, I feel like wanting to go back for another round of limited flavor-ramen. I’d never know what they would have unless I physically go and check. 😀 Surprise = excitement!

      Reply
  3. Lisa

    I don’t know if I will ever get to Asia but this sounds good. I like the way you can order your food!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      The gyoza dumplings were still not on the menu when we visited three weeks ago, but I’m sure they will be marked as permanent by the time you step in. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Christine Topley

    I don’t travel much out side of my own country of Canada. If I did this sounds like a nice place to visit. The food you have written about sounds delicious and something I would look forward to trying.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah. For the most part, Ramen Nagi’s ramen is all about the pork. Broth and choice of protein are all pork (pork shoulder, pork belly or pork loin). If you love eating pork, dining here would be a hands-down great experience.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Nice pick. It was my first choice, too. But after tasting it too much, I grew tired of the rich pesto flavor and thought that I could eat the red akao a lot more.

      Reply
  5. Gabby O'Brien

    This food all looks so amazing. My mouth is watering just looking at the photo! I need to try this at some point in my life!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      When you order your first bowl of ramen (and I hope that’s soon), you absolutely have to order the tamago and eat it the traditional way. How? Plop it into your bowl and don’t eat it separately. 😀

      Reply
  6. Jessica Peeling

    That Red King Ramen looks so delicious! I am a huge ramen fan, but unfortunately we don’t have anything like that (that I’ve ever seen, at least). It would be such a cool restaurant to have!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh wow I’m sure you will love all the ramen by Ramen Nagi! They are super good! 🙂 Finish a bowl with every spoonful of broth and noodles with dignity –>pigging out at its finest.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Super yummy! The taste is unlike anything we’ve had before. We’ve had quite a lot of tonkotsu ramen but when pork bones and quirky flavors come together in the Ramen Nagi way, it transforms the broth to a whole new flavor.

      Reply
  7. Danielle

    This sounds like a really great place. I haven’t been to that part of the country in years. I have never had any dishes like these but they all look great.

    Reply
  8. Jacqueline

    I come from a very small town and would LOVE to go abroad someday. I check out blogs like this to feel more connected to the rest of the world. That mall is SO DIFFERENT from any mall I’ve ever been in and the food looks really interesting! Thanks for posting 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Ramen Nagi is rather new in the Philippines and really new in SM Mall of Asia (MOA). There are more interesting restaurants now to try in MOA. This is the place to be, my favorite mall ever. 🙂 You’re welcome!

      Reply
  9. Rosey

    That’s great that the tables moved fairly quickly. Everything looks new to me! I thought the Red King Ramen was great for presentation!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup. It’s also good that we didn’t get a feeling of being rushed since there were many customers still waiting outside. Everything actually was nicely presented. 😀

      Reply
  10. Emma T

    I love the way you can choose exactly the spec of the food you’re ordering. You don’t really get that in the UK

    Reply
  11. jane

    all of those looks very nice! i haven’t tried ramen in a resto too always the ones in the packets since my husband loves them for midnight food

    Reply
  12. Leira Pagaspas

    Excellent review!! my friend and I plan to go SM Aura to visit this restaurant from your review I know what to order and what not to order

    Reply
  13. Kristen

    The food looks so good! I wish dishes like this were available where I live!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Well, I guess we all have food and restaurants that are not available in our place. In my case, I note all those in a list and make sure that I get to try them once I land at the country where it’s available. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Amanda @ Adorkablii

    I would love to go to Hong Kong and experience the culture and food. It seems like a beautiful place with amazing sites to see and great food to try. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Watch out as it opens to more and more locations here. 🙂 I suggest you go ahead and order the ebi king because it’s one of those limited variants of ramen they offer.

      Reply
  15. mindy

    I think ramen are taking the world by storm *LOL*, ramen places has been sprouting like mushroom on a wet ground in Indonesia lately too. I am not a big fan of Japanese food (but i am obsessed with sushi! So there’s an exception) and ramen especially so.. It’s pretty underwhelming to me. I am a crazy person when it comes to hot and spicy food though (i add so much chilli or sambal in my food my friends are always afraid when they see it!) so the Red King Ramen looks very interesting to me! The black one however, looks very scary (even though we have a local food called rawon that has black soup and i really like it-it contains so squid whatsoever though) to me!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Wow. With that said, I guess Japanese ramen houses will be taking the world by storm as they open up in many locations in this period. Well, it’s a plus for us since we get to know what we like and what we don’t. We get to know more of our senses, too, and recommend the best to our friends. 🙂 While I’m sure you’d like the red king ramen, you should try the squid one to go away from your comfort zone once in a while. 🙂

      Reply
  16. Genzel

    Ohhh we must visit this place! I’ve been reading great reviews about this resto. So far we’ve been to two ramen houses (yun ba tawag dun), ikkoryu and yushoken. 400 is okay na for their menu ah. Listed na to when we go to moa 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Hehe. I’m glad to hear that you’re considering Ramen Nagi and I bet it would be one of your must-go restaurant every time you feel like eating ramen because their food are just so good! 🙂

      Reply
  17. Joy Felizardo

    Gahh! You almost ate everything that’s on their menu. I always pass by that area, and I must admit they are always full. Next time will pull some patience up and wait for a table. Nice review Roch!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Joy! Haha yeah it’s always great to have friends and family (or any large group) eating together so food can be shared. Ramen Nagi should have a bigger space soon as everyone knows their business is booming! 🙂

      Reply

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