You’ve read the signals right: I’m a big Ramen lover. My Ramen adventures spanning from the budget, mid-range, to the high-end ones familiarized me with its different variations and interestingly, the bustling Ramen scene in the Metro is quite a good subject to study. From time to time, we’d be surprised with the new Ramen trends aside from the top-rating names that we usually know. Just recently, I discovered a fairly new Ramen hub in North Edsa that’s a worthy addition to this list: Ukkokei Japan by Menzo.
Ukkokei Japan by Menzo is different from Ukkokei Ramen Ron. To distinguish it from the other similar names, the owners added Japan to describe its origin, and Menzo — the name of its head chef. Ukkokei originally means black chicken, but the Ramen restau ironically specializes in pork simmered for 16 hours.
Ukkokei was first known as a relatively average-priced Ramen stop in Megamall but has become a huge hit among the diners of the mall. It has a newly opened branch in Maginhawa too. Just yesterday, the North Edsa branch had its grand opening. Together with the other food bloggers, my taste buds had an amazing feasting on Ramen, rice dishes, and side dishes.
Ukkokei is located at the 3rd floor of SM North Edsa main building, beside Mesa and Pancake house. The space is rather small that can accommodate only up to 40-45 persons. The interiors are simple too, nothing too fancy inside. I guess this is to mainly focus on the food, not on the ambiance. It’s also understandable since the restau is on its soft opening but I’m pretty sure more improvements will be seen soon.
Now let’s go to the main highlight of this post: the FOOD.
This Ramen hub features three main varieties: Shiro, Kuro, and Aka. Shiro is the salt-based Tonkotsu broth, Kuro is the garlic-based broth, while the Aka is the spicy-flavored Ramen.
Each version comes in three different sizes and servings: Chashu, Ajitama and Original. The difference among these three is the serving size of the bowl and the slices of Pork belly. The Chashu has two thick slices of Pork belly and is the biggest serving size. Ajitama and Original on the other hand, both have one slice of Pork Chashu but the Original has no Tamago egg in it. With these selections, diners can opt to choose the serving size — which is suitable for any type of budget and taste preference. I suggest though, to try the Chashu to enjoy the experience! All of three types are served with spring onion, seaweed, and black fungus.
The Kuro had a strong, biting garlicky taste which turned out to be too bitter for me. It was too late that I knew that the broth should be mixed to balance out the flavor. Shiro’s taste was spot on — not too oily, nor too overwhelming that drowns you to fattiness of the broth. The seasoning was just right to satisfy your palate, good for a nice slurp. The umami flavor was not that strong to tire you to boredom. The texture of the noodles was also good, not too soggy nor too hard for chewing. The Aka Ramen was spicy but tolerable on the taste buds, still leaving you room to enjoy the Ramen. Diners can specifically request to add more spice to the Ramen, but for me the serving was just right for my mild tolerance for spicy food.
Amazingly, the Chashu had the thickest slices of pork I’ve ever seen. It intimidated me at first, knowing my aversion for pork. Nevertheless, it was too fork-tender you won’t be dismayed at all. A light poke can easily tear the meat.
The Tamago egg was not that wet and runny. The wet yolk could have added another depth of flavor to the noodles but that’s alright.
I was not able to taste the Midori Ramen, which is infused with Basil and Green bean, but I heard this was among the top favorites in the group. The hints of Basil was not too overpowering, I heard. This might work for those with adventurous palates.
I won’t give a detailed description of each of the dish but if there’s a common thing in them — the serving size is too hefty that is good for sharing for two. The taste is generally okay, not really that exceptional but good as alternatives if you are not a Ramen fan. What stood out for me was the Chahan rice and Pork Katsudon. I find the Gyudon too sweet for my liking.
Ramen is always good when accompanied with side dishes. The Japanese delectable sides can boost your appetite before starting off with your main meals. The prices are reasonable for the serving size. What piqued my interest was the Kani salad, Teba Karaage, and Chicken Karaage.
We always think that the authentic Japanese cuisine is expensive, but lo and behold, there are still affordable choices around such as that of Ukkokei’s. It may not be at par with the big names in the Ramen biz, but surely they are still appetizing to begin with. It also made me realize that each Ramen store I go to has its own unique story, style, and workaround to survive in this aggressive and ever-evolving food industry and that we should learn to appreciate them instead of comparing them.
Ukkokei Japan by Menzo
Third Floor, Main Building, SM City North EDSA, Bago Bantay, Quezon City
Opening hours: 10 AM to 10 PM daily
Facebook: Ukokkei Japan by MENZO