Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hokkaido Ramen Santouka Food Review: The Best Ramen I've Ever Had

Ladies and gents, this is as close as to what being in love looks like. You just don't want to depart and be together for as long as you can. Making sure each bite is precious and memorable. Devoting your attention and ignoring all the distractions around you. This makes the person you're eating with the third wheel, and it's just you and your ramen!


Ramen, the famous Japanese comfort food, is obviously (and undoubtedly) the culinary trend and craze at the moment. Not all ramen is created equal though. Some of them are too greasy and too rich wherein you can possibly get one month's worth of cholesterol in one bowl.

A handful of ramen places have popped up over the last couple of years, and of all the ramen places that I've tried, I would have to say that I enjoy and love Santouka Ramen the most.


The menu is fairly straight forward; You have the option to select your meat, your broth or soup base and the size. They definitely do not skimp you out on the portion of noodles and meat like other places do. I really enjoyed their Shio Ramen and Karamiso Ramen.

The biggest difference between Santouka and other ramen places is the consistency of the noodles.  At Santouka, it's very al dente and cooked to a perfect texture. Their noodles are imported from Japan, and very flavorful since the noodles rest in the broth, and they tend to absorb the soup & soften up.

 They have 4 basic soup base, shio (salt), shoyu (soy sauce) the miso (soybean paste), and the Kara-miso (hot soybean paste). Which soup base is the best really depends on every person's preference. My favorite is the Shio and Kara-miso ramen which are both best sellers.


It's Shio time! The Shio Ramen was topped with a few slices of pork belly which were soft and tender, bamboo shoots and green onions. I'm no ramen expert, but I can say that after every bowl, I am full and satisfied. They don't put a bunch of ingredients in the soup like tons of seaweed or a pound of bamboo shoots. The ratio seems perfect and the meat is of high quality.  I can still remember my first bite of delicious soft texture and slurpy medium-sized noodles, drenched in rich and tasty broth with few pickled ginger slivers and dash of seasoning spices along with the very well-cooked, thinly-sliced and tender Char-siu pork meat.


The broth is incredibly rich, as all quality ramens should be. To keep it concise, the broth is the real star of the show here.  Their soup is boiled for more than 17 hours. The result? Let’s just say you shouldn't be embarrassed to lift the bowl like a giant shot glass once the noodles are done.  The nuanced, complex long simmered flavours of the soup does show a lot of satisfying Umami.


If you want to bulk things up, you can choose to throw in your usual toppings of char-siu pork, pickled plum, negi (green onion), nori (seaweed), naruto (japanese fish cake), kikurage ( black fungus) , butter corn and menma (bamboo shoot). Add it all up and you have one amazing bowl of ramen. After that, anything could happen.


My go to option is the Karamiso (spicy) ramen. This was the first bowl of ramen (aside from Shio) that I truly fell in love with and it's still a favorite. When things are not going right in your life, this bowl will help restore your zest and happiness. The  broth was flavorful, the meat was tender, and I've had a spicy ramen at other places, and thus far, none were anywhere close to Santouka's. The "kick" and spiciness does not overpower the umami-ness of the delightful broth.


If filling up is your goal, you're better off looking towards the Santouka set  menu, which I'm going to declare as the best value for money. My favorite is the Inari Sushi set with Karaage and small bowl of ramen which comes with rice, and karaage. We always upgrade the size of the ramen to large.


The Karaage is my favorite; flavorful pieces of chicken that’s crispy on the outside and soft inside when you bite it. It complements the flavor of the Inari sushi ( Japanese rice covered with tofu) then hit it with some of that creamy japanese mayonnaise. Sooo good!


It's very well priced, even for a penny-pinching WAHM like myself! Most of the options here will cost you about PhP390-450, and that includes a rice meal set already which I think for this quality is fair. And come on, how often do you treat yourself to such an awesome bowl of ramen? Don't feel guilty to splurge a little.


Oh, and I also love the Parent-Child Set for only P410, which includes 1 regular size ramen, 1 child ramen (about one-third portion of regular size)  and a cute toy. My daughter really loves it as well as the mango shake while my husband loves the blended iced tea.

I also tried Santouka's new addition to their wholesome menu, creatively prepared by their world-class Japanese chef.


Besides the signature offering, Santouka has made a vegetarian version, and my favorite to date, Yasai Hiyashi ramen, cold noodle with salad greens and rich sesame sauce.  I'm giving both Yasai Hiyashi ramen and Kaisen Yasai Hiyashi (seafood-based) ramen 5 stars.  Kaisen Yasai Hiyashi ramen is one of the most surprisingly delicious things I've tasted. Stir it all up and each bite brings you a crazy burst of flavors and textures.  It's a great choice for vegetarians and it definitely hits the spot!


I also tried the Hokkaido Tsukemen, cold noodle with hot dipping sauce which has miso flavor.  It's a solid, comforting bowl, but not the star of the show. I love the broth and the salmon. However, if you don't down it fast enough and get to the bottom of that bowl within a few moments of having it delivered to you, it thickens up into a starchy, almost paste-like consistency that plasters the remaining noodles together.
Here's how to eat Tsukemen:
1. Get ramen noodles.
2. Dip noodles in sauce. Do not pour sauce over the noodles.
3. Eat it fast and enjoy.


I also tried their gyoza and its equally good minus the oily taste. As for me, I usually don't like the Miso and Shoyu Ramen as I find the flavor lacking. I prefer either the salty and spicy ones.

The restaurant was a bit small. There were two separate rooms for large private group of up to 6-8 persons. The food attendants were all smiling and some of them know how to speak Japanese. This place gets incredibly busy during lunch, but don't let the tight seating steer you away.  If the line turns you off a bit, just know that it's worth every minute. :)

Overall, the big flavor and great noodles will have me coming back for more. Definitely the best ramen I've ever had. So do yourself a favor and savor an authentic ramen experience this rainy season at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka. Your tummy will thank you.

Open from 11 am to 11 pm daily. Last call is at 10:30 pm. Glorietta 4 - G4-132 Ground Floor, Glorietta Mall, Ayala Center, Makati, (02) 728-1381 They also have branches in Greenhills and SM Mall of Asia Follow them on Instagram and Twitter! @SantoukaPh


 

2 comments:

  1. Looks yummy. Ahh.. gusto ko uli ng ramen. Wait sis, mas masarap ba kesa Ramen Daisho? Yun kasi ang pinakamasarap saken ngayon, tho I don't frequently go to Japanese restos. Si hubby kasi limited lang ang choices pag Japanese food.

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  2. I have to try this! I am looking for a best ramen and you recommend this well. thank you :)

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