Ramen is one of the all-time favorite comfort food in the local food scene. This famous Japanese dish has conquered the palates of Filipinos that it has diversified into different versions in several Ramen restaurants. The best components are there — tender chashu, soft tamago, spring-like noodles and savory broth, that many are willing to line up and spend bucks to get that authentic, legit Ramen.
The dilemma is, not everyone is up for the game of overspending for a single bowl of Ramen. I, myself, would only eat it during payday, special occasions or whenever I have the budget. Entrepreneurs have seen this as an opportunity to introduce Street Ramen, or the affordable Ramen we often see in small kiosks or food booths. For a minimal price, you get to enjoy Ramen without the frills. Of course, the taste and quality cannot be equalled to those in big Ramen houses — but your cravings can be satisfied without breaking the bank.
This is the main concept of Tomochan Ramen Express, an affordable Ramen kiosk steadily gaining reputation for its taste and quality. We got invited to one of its branches in LKG Tower in Ayala, Makati.
Tomochan was derived from the words Tomodachi or the Japanese term for friend and Chan, a term of endearment for little children or close friends. It was founded by Akiko Okamoto, a Japanese entrepreneur from Osaka. She envisions Tomochan to be the leading provider of affordable ramen in the Philippines and hopefully, in other parts of the globe. It had its first branch in Angeles City, Pampanga in July 2017. In just less than two years, the business expanded to 5 branches. More branches will soon be opened.
Tomochan’s menu is basically centered on Ramen. It has two main versions, Shoyu and Miso. Shoyu is soy-based savory version, while Miso is the lighter version with the Miso based-broth. Ramen starts at Php 99 only.
The ingredients are already pre-packed to proportions and ready for reheating, hence the waiting time is not too long. Serving time is 10 to 15 minutes only. Tomochan wants to maximize space and save time, that all ingredients are delivered from the central kitchen by batches. The ingredients are sourced locally which explains its affordability. The recipe looks well-curated that it tastes close enough to the authentic.
Valuing the Filipino tradition of pasalubong, Tomochan allows takeaways. They just separate the broth from the noodles to retain the consistency of the Ramen.
Shoyu Basic (Php 99)– Half egg, 2 slices of pork and leek
Shoyu Vegee (Php 109)– Half egg, 2 slices of pork, leek and veggie
Spicy Shoyu Tantan (Php 129)– Half egg, Spicy ground pork, leek and veggie
Shoyu Special (Php 149)– Whole egg, 4 slices of pork, leek, veggie and seaweed
Miso Basic (Php 129)– Half egg, 2 slices of pork and leek
Miso Veggie (Php 139)- Half egg, 2 slices of pork, leek and veggie
Spicy Miso Tantan (Php 159)- Half egg, spicy pork, leek and veggie
Miso Special (Php 169)– Whole egg, 4 slices of pork, leek, veggie and seaweed
Since we Pinoys love rice, Tomochan decided to include rice meals in its menu. Right now, it has Chicken Karaage, Katsu and Gyoza rice meal at Php 79 each. You can also order it for ala carte for Php 69 each. The latest addition to Tomochan’s rice meals is the Katsudon (Php 99)
Well, good to news to those wanted to try both Ramen and rice meals as they also offer set meals for the combination of these two!
Set Meal A – Half Ramen + Rice meal (Php 159, Shoyu/ Php 179 Miso)
Set Meal B– Whole Rramen + Rice meal (add Php 69 on ramen)
I had Spicy Miso Tantan and Katsudon. The broth tastes nice and I liked that the noodles are chewy and firm. Some Ramen kiosks only serve the instant type of noodles, so Tomochan is quite an exception. I also liked the Tamago egg. It was not the melt-in-your mouth, and soft type of Tamago but it’s well-salted. Other Ramen joints only serve the hard-boiled egg to save up the cost. The pork is nice, but not that super fork-tender type of chashu you’d usually look for in a Ramen. I also suggest to include other ingredients like the Narutomaki (pink dumpling) or more vegetables. Then again, I’d say the taste is just right for the price. The sauce of the Katsudon is nice, but I’d prefer it with egg. If you’re craving for a quick Ramen break but can’t afford to dine in those luxury restaurants, then heading to Tomochan could be the best idea.
Envisioning itself to start a growing Ramen empire, Tomochan is open for franchising. The franchise fee of Php 160,000 is inclusive of the following:
*Rights to use Tomochan’s unique name, trademarks, and systems
*Site selection evaluation and approval
*Tomochan’s exclusive classroom and hands-on trainings
*Pre-opening and opening assistance
*Confidential Tomochan’s Operations Manual
*Consistent support, business consulting and field visits
*Marketing and promotions support
*Rights to use Tomochan’s proprietary products and services
*Access to accredited and exclusive suppliers of Tomochan
For inquiries, you may reach the following contact numbers:
✱ LKG Tower, Makati City
✱ Fairview Terraces
✱ Solenad Mall, Sta Rosa Laguna
✱ New Point Mall, Angeles City
✱ Marquee Mall, Angeles City
Tomochan Ramen Express
Food Odyssey, 11th Floor, LKG Tower, Ayala Ave.Makati City.
Contact numbers: 09156509906/ 09177092565
Facebook: Tomochan Ramen Express
What makes a place beautiful? Is it the bounteous wonders of nature, the culture and history? Is it the prominent landmarks and tourist attractions? For me it’s more than that — it’s the people. Every time I travel, it’s those random encounters and conversations with the locals that leave a lasting impact to me. The photos may be forgotten, the sights may be replaced in a new adventure, but the new friends you’ll meet will only pass in your life once.
It was without question that I was drawn to Batanes’ enchanting charm and beauty. Unexpectedly, I was also inspired to know more about the Ivatans and their way of life. In a short span of time, I’ve known their common personalities and lifestyle. I guess this is very important in visiting a province: you understand their roots and traditions, beliefs and culture so that you’d be careful not to disrespect them or offend them in any way. As a responsible traveler, it is your duty not only to preserve the natural wealth of the province but also to respect its distinct culture.
The concept of “honesty store” is very popular in Batanes. People can buy goods without rendering the payment to a person, but instead they can leave it either in a small box or canister. With that, the tourists are expected to be honest with their monetary transactions.
Honesty is one of their core values. There is no reason to fret about your losing your belongings or being cheated on because the Ivatans do not tolerate dishonesty. Theft has no place in Batanes. It’s been said that it is part of their upbringing since childhood.
Ivatans are trained to work hard for a living and not depend on others to sustain their needs. One manifestation of this trait is the absence of beggars in the place. The main industries in Batanes are agriculture and fishing, and obviously, tourism. It is not unusual for them to have more than one job. We were surprised that our tour guide was also a part-time truck driver. Having a simple lifestyle, they just get what they need from their agricultural products. Poverty rate is very low in Batanes.
Batanes is known to be a zero-crime tourist destination. No wonder why this place is among the favorite of solo travellers. Understanding the rationale behind this, we were told that if a person committed a crime, it will be known in the entire province or island. It is considered a disgrace to one’s family or entire community. We also heard that if a person commits a crime, he will be evicted from the place or be forced to move to another island because of shame. Petty incidents of crime are usually done by the tourists themselves or foreigners.
Since crimes are unusual in Batanes, our homestays are often left at night by the caretakers unlocked. The old houses in Sabtang are often left open that we wonder if there is anyone residing there. There is no room to worry about security.
Ivatans are typically shy at first but once you engage them in the conversations, they can relate with you well. They are gentle and respectful. Our tour guide would often include “po” and “opo” in our conversations.
The locals are also kind and hospitable — the tour guides, homestay owners and caretakers and vendor would always greet you with a smiling face and would ask you if you are comfortable or if you need anything. When I dropped my blazer somewhere in Sabtang, our tour guide looked for it even if that meant passing along rugged and steep roads. Fortunately, he was able to find it and he returned it to me. I even told him not to bother looking for it anymore but he insisted.
Ivatans exert efforts to uphold their cultural heritage. Old stone houses are preserved until today to showcase the Ivatan tradition of building a sturdy house that can withstand any strong typhoon. Vaculs, or the traditional headdress of women, are still being worn today to protect them from the sun or rain.
Natural wealth is one of their greatest, priceless assets. The natural landscapes of Batanes and the picturesque cliffhanger roads overlooking the seas have paved the way for tourism. This is why Ivatans are very protective of what they have — they are disciplined on garbage disposal and they strictly prohibit the pilfering of any coral or stones from the sea.
Since Batanes is a beautiful place protected and preserved by its ethnic people, the tourists are also expected to be responsible in their actions. Show respect to the locals and elders by greeting them and talking to them. Do not throw your garbage anywhere. Do not take something from the sea. Be polite and show courtesy. Do not keep asking why the prices of commodities are too high because it is already understood how difficult it is to transport these goods.
Be friendly and approachable. Treat them equally but with sincerity. If you’ll show them respect and kindness, they will reciprocate it more with love and generosity.
In Batanes, homestays are popular because they are cheap, practical, and convenient. A big house is typically subdivided into small rooms but you share the common amenities such as the kitchen, toilet, and living room with the other guests.
When tourism in Batanes started to boom, Marfel’s Lodge was among the first to open its doors to travelers back in 2013. As one of the pioneer accommodations in Basco, it is one of the most sought-after homestays in Basco. Started with just a few rooms, it has now expanded to five branches to accommodate more tourists.
Marfel’s Main is just 5 minutes away from the airport. We were fetched from the arrival area by their staff and rode the van heading to the homestay.
Marfel’s has aircon and fan rooms for solo travelers, groups, and couples. Getting an aircon room is convenient especially when the weather is hot, but fan rooms are also available if you are on a budget.
We booked a fan room with 1 double bed and one single bed. The room is small and simple. Towels and soaps were provided upon check-in. You may check the updated rates here: Marfel’s lodge.
Our stay was inclusive of daily breakfast meals from Day 2 up to the last day. Availing the breakfast turned out to be a wise choice — since we had no time anymore to prepare our food early in the morning. Although Basco is accessible to restaurants and eateries, the choices are not as diverse as that of the other famous tourist spots.
One of the perks I like in Marfel’s is the free use of the kitchen. Food and other basic commodities in Batanes are way too expensive that cooking is always a common option for budget travelers. We would eat lunch at the restaurants or eateries during our tours, then cook our own dinner at home. Dinner staples consisted mostly of canned goods, egg, or fresh seafood from the market. We cooked our own rice and shared it with the other guests.
Marfel’s kitchen has everything — cooking utensils, ingredients, and even a small honesty store where the guests can buy small grocery items and leave the payment.
Even if we are sharing the common bathroom with the other guests, the cleanliness is always maintained. I was hesitant at first to stay here knowing that our room does not have its own private CR, but I was impressed and relieved that the bathroom is always kept tidy. The toilet is separated from the bathroom. Men and women also have separate comfort rooms.
Guests can relax and lounge in the living area and watch television. It really reminds me of home. I frequently stayed here to mingle and interact with the other travelers, mostly solo backpackers. This is where I exchanged stories and experiences with fellow travelers.
You’ll also see this board displayed on the wall with pinned messages and greetings from the guests. Used plane tickets, receipts and photos with printed sweet notes from different travelers show how much they appreciated the hospitality of Marfel’s. Reading them is heart-warming — and you couldn’t agree more. Here’s my message:
The Ivatans are so kind and hospitable. This is really the main factor that makes my stay in Marfel’s worth remembering. The Ivatans are known to be shy and soft-spoken, but it is so easy to get along well with them. They can be good conversationalists too!
They treated us like their families, and they always reminded us to treat Marfel’s as our own home. I learned a lot from two of their staff Ate Crise and Ate Emi — about Batanes, Ivatan culture, and life in general. Time seemed too short to wrap up meaty conversations with these two.
Homey and well-organized — that’s how I’d describe Marfel’s Lodge in Basco Batanes. My short vacation in Batanes made me go back to the basics and be contented with the simple things. Marfel’s hospitality and kindness were among the little things I appreciated but surely it touched me the most.
Dios Mamajes, Marfel’s!
Note: Marfel’s Lodge is also affiliated with Chanpan Tours and Services.
Reyes St. Brgy. Kayvaluganan, Basco Batanes
Basco, Batanes :0917 627 2957 / 0908 893 1475
Manila: 0917 704 4071 / 0917 674 0901 /
0918 964 1318
FB page: Marfel’s Lodge