Since Tricia and I have been ramen fans for quite some time, visiting: Yushoken, Ikkoryu, and Ramen Nagi, it was time we visited another ramen place. We had seen Hanamaruken Ramen a month ago during one of our grocery runs, back then it was still undergoing a soft opening and we were quite excited to try out another ramen restaurant and test whether it had the noodles to stand up against our standard for all ramen places--Yushoken.
Arriving a little past the lunch hour and still under a soft opening, I was surprised that there weren't any lines. It could be a sign that the restaurant hasn't gained enough traction among the ramen-eating population OR the ramen craze has officially ended. Whichever of the two, I was glad that there were no people and were seated at once.
Since this was the first time we would be eating here and since we were very hungry, we made quick use of the menu. Hanamaruken's menu has a lot of choices for the picky eater of Japanese cuisine, apart from the ramen they also served tempura and a lot of different rice meals. Since our purpose was to eat ramen I ordered their Signature Ramen while Tricia had the Chasyu Ramen, alongside our order was our gyoza.
For many ramen restaurant's, eating the bowl of soup and noodle goodness has always been a personal affair. But in Hanamaruken, their bowl's were large that I was already doubted whether I could finish one meal, which would of course make it a first. Hanamaruken's signature ramen is their traditional shoyu-based ramen topped off with a really generous slab of braised pork rib. The pork rib took up practically the entire dish, from the soup to its flavor. Since the rib was slow-cooked to goodness, little bits of fat were floating, this helped improve the ramen's flavor tremendously. Apart from adding flavor, the meat was so tender that every bit was edible, from the tendons to the fat it was an entire melt in your mouth experience.
The true test of any ramen dish are the noodles, the process of making noodles has always been highlighted in any ramen restaurant. The word's hand pulled, made with ingredients straight from Japan, are very familiar to me and I have high regard for ramen restaurant's having really good noodles. But Hanamaruken's was a total failure, I don't know if it was the chopsticks that we were using but their noodles weren't firm and were quite difficult to pick up. In pasta or noodle parlance, I don't think they were al dente. It also didn't help that the noodles looked and tasted as if it came from cup noodles.
Though disappointing, at least the broth and the pork rib were redeeming factors in the total dish. I also liked how Tricia's chasyu ramen tasted, the broth had a certain depth of flavor, there was the traditional shoyu broth at the same time a certain level of spiciness to the entire dish, making it one of the more interesting ramen.
I would have to say that Hanamaruken needs a lot of catching up to do as a restaurant wanting to compete among the multitudes of authentic ramen places that have been popping up in the metro. Apart from the quality of the noodles they also need to improve on the quality of their gyoza, which were tough and burnt. Besides those two glaring things, the entire experience was good, they got the broth right and the pork rib was absolutely delicious and worth trying.
Hanamaruken Ramen is located 2/F Alabang Town Center. Muntinlupa City.
My name is Alfonso your nerdy history teacher, bookworm and lover of all things cultural and exciting. You can find me in a weekend market, in a bookshop, or eating in Japanese restos during the weekends.