It's one of those days when the weather is just right, not to hot or cold, neither humid or rainy, just perfect. Perfect enough to have a bowl of ramen, it's been ages since my last bowl of ramen and as usual, Tricia and I, can't stop ourselves from enjoying this wonderful Japanese dish. With the city in virtual traffic lockdown over the Occupy Ortigas movement and indecisive over whether to watch Inside Out, we stewed our thoughts over a bowl of ramen, this time in Makati's Ramen Santouka.
To start of, let me just say that Ramen Santouka, is a bit different from most of the ramen restaurants we've eaten at. Most menus would have two to four ramen offerings plus side dishes of tamago, gyoza, and some other add-ons. With Ramen Santouka their menu was different, set meals were available, when I browsed their menu they offered katsu's, miso soups, and dishes one wouldn't normally see in a ramen restaurant. Another variation in their menu were: the serving sizes and the choice to have all three flavors (shio, shoyu, and miso) served in a one dish. This variety was interesting, it allowed us to be adventurous but at the same time not worry about being unable to finish the dish because of its sheer immensity.
Feeling adventurous, I ordered their Awase-Aji Ramen, chicken cheeks with a mixture of Santouka's shio, shoyu and miso broth, with a tamago served in a regular sized bowl; Tricia went for the miso ramen. As usual, we ordered our traditional gyoza meal plus an additional tamago for Tricia's ramen. When our dish arrived, I took in the aroma of the ramen and there were hints of the aforementioned trio. The dish was picture perfect, fat, egg, vegetables, everything was layered artistically and made for picture fodder. First bite and sip and I knew that their ramen was tickling my tastebuds, with little addition to the meal like crushed sesame seeds, the dish was good. Not perfect but good enough for our traditional comfort meal. The chicken cheeks weren't bad at all, considering I don't even know what part of the chicken it came from, the tamago had that beautiful orange tint to it that made it very delectable, too bad their egg sizes were on the small side.
Despite the aroma, the three flavors didn't blend so well, it wasn't bad so to speak, it just felt a little bland. Each flavor: shio, shoyu and miso, overpowered each other to the point of being just a salty dish. It was somewhat of a letdown because I was hoping for a new taste, I should have just stuck to my usual order. Apart from my meal missing the whole fusion of flavors mark, another point I want to raise is their noodles, oftentimes most restaurants would market theirs as being made with the finest and most exotic ingredients. The results are palpable and truly elevate ramen from ready-made to finely crafted culinary masterpieces. Santouka's fell on the former, their noodles lacked the chewiness or even the hardness/softness of handmade noodles. In fact the color of the noodles itself looked like it came from the instant variety. There was no finesse to practicing the traditional slurp your ramen while eating, it was mildly disappointing at the very least.
All in all, Ramen Santouka is a good place to find variety if you're no longer up for ramen, though I have yet to try their other dishes I am sure that the stellar reviews it has received are most definitely well deserved. As for their ramen, I would say that what they offer is good, their miso ramen definitely tasted way better than my awase-aji ramen and should therefore serve as a lesson for me, leave new-age treatments to classic dishes to fusion restaurants.
Ramen Santouka is located at Glorietta 4, Ground Floor. Makati 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.