In all my years, I’ve tried a great many dishes. Cuisines from the urban jungle that is New York to the city steeped in tradition, Beijing. But there is one cuisine that I will never get tired of and this is food from the land of the rising sun, Japan.
Japanese food is truly amazing and is definitely a feast for the senses. The presentation is always a sight to behold. Plating of any Japanese dish is always geared to showcase the best the dish has to offer. The food always includes a variety of aromatics that delight the sense of smell. Sight and smell serve to further sweeten the anticipation of the dish one is about to savor, and the first bite is a harmony of flavors and delights to the palate. Only then, can you begin to appreciate the texture of the food. The creaminess of a slice of Salmon Sashimi to the crunch of a fresh prawn tempura. This is truly a feast for the senses.
As it happens, my favorite dish in Japanese Cuisine is Ramen. Regrettably I’ve yet to travel to Japan and have a bowl, but I’ve gone to majority of the ramen houses here in Manila. Thankfully, I had the privilege of dining with my closest friends in a ramen place that always seemingly has a kilometric waiting line and an even longer waiting time. This place is called Mendokoro.
Located in Salcedo Village in Makati, Mendokoro is about as traditional as a ramen house out of Japan can be. The customers are seated around the kitchen where they can watch the chefs expertly craft bowl after bowl of mouthwatering goodness. I was seated in front of the row of steamers; watching chefs prepare gyoza in a way that was almost mechanical in nature.
Before long, my order had arrived. The chef placed a hot bowl of Mendokoro’s Shoyu Ramen in front of me. It came in a black bowl that accentuated the light color of the broth, noodles, and toppings. From what I could see, the dish had several toppings that I will try my best to identify. The most eye catching topping had to be the grilled pork belly that covered about half the bowl. In addition to this, there was a generous helping of ground pork, a sprinkling of spring onions, and a serving of wood ear mushrooms all presented nicely in the bowl.
As this artwork in a bowl was served to me, the aroma wafting from it cut through all the different smells of the room. The restaurant’s kitchen was exposed so all the aromas from the pots, pans, and steamers floated around the room giving it a character of its own. But the moment the ramen is set before you, the essence of ramen overpowers all the other scents in the room as if to say, “I’m the center of attention here.”
When taking ramen, the first thing I do is take a spoonful of the broth to truly appreciate the complexity and flavors within. The first spoonful of this broth definitely was an experience. It was steaming yet cool enough to sip without burning one’s tongue. The broth was by no means thick in texture but was creamy to the taste. In addition to this, the broth was rich and flavorful while not overpowering.
Once I got over the initial taste of the broth, I picked up my chopsticks and took some noodles with the next spoonful. The texture of the noodles was perfect, firm yet slightly chewy. I had a bite of the pork belly and I swear it melted in my mouth. I took another bite just to be sure it was really the pork I had on the first bite.
The ramen I had was amazing. Once I picked up my soup spoon and chopsticks, I didn’t put them down til the end of the meal. I have to admit that it called for serious eating. I didn’t talk much to my seat mates as I was too focused on the ramen in front of me. The meal was filling indeed however left just enough room for dessert. I had a great time dining at Mendokoro and I’ll be sure to try the rest of the dishes on their menu.
Overall, if you’re in the area, we recommend you drop by and see what the place has to offer. If you’ve been here before, let us know what you ordered and how you liked it! Cheers!