Friday, April 25, 2014

A Bowlful of Laughts at Ramen Nagi

Whenever I think of Hong Kong, images of duck (the peking kind, not the Disney), pork buns at Tim Ho Wan, dimsum at at Lin Heung Tea House, Temple street night market, and of course, the small but always packed Butao King Restaurant along On Lane Street.

The Black Butao King had always done a great job of warming my tummy on cold, snowy nights in Hong Kong, so I was ecstatic to learn my favorite noodle place had finally come to the Philippines! My happiness, though, was cut short when I learned how long the lines and the wait time was for a bowl of ramen! I gave it a few months, thinking the lines would shorten eventually, but I think they just got longer when people found out the Philippine franchise lived up to it's Chinese counterpart.

Jaz and Eric of EricJaz Foodies had already been there a couple of times, and were raving about how good the ramen was, and I just couldn't take it anymore. I had to go there. I had to get my ramen fix. Good ol' Mama J was also in the mood for a spicy noodle fix, so off we all went to Butao King's Pinoy sister, Ramen Nagi.

Jericho and I met up with Jaz and Eric who had arrive first and gotten us on the reservation list. Although it was the middle of the week, the place was still packed and they refused to seat us until we were all complete. I was annoyed at first, but seeing the speed at which they serve their stuff, I get it.

When Jane and Jeff arrive we all trooped in and took one of the booths that I think should should've just fit four people, but snuggly fit all six of us. The waiter handed us all our order sheets and we circled in our preferences for our custom bowls of ramen. I ordered a Black King while Jericho got the Limited Curry King.

Jane, who also happens to be a fan of everything spicy, ordered the Red King (P410). I have never really tried the Red King before, and it sure does look like something I'd enjoy - the hotter, the better is my motto - this goes for both the food and the men in my life. Haha!

Out of nostalgia, I got this beautiful, hot black mess ,the Black King (P410) whose broth is made with squid ink. I had ordered it with a level 4 spiciness, but it wasn't as spicy as I remember it. It had a very creamy base (I did ask them to go heavy on the special sauce) giving it a lot of umami flavor, with lots and lots of garlic, green onions, extra crunchy kikurage (P50), and a sheet of nori (P60) that I promptly tore up and added to my glistening black bowl.

Oh, I also had tamago (P50) on the side, with the yolk's creaminess just adding to my already creamy bowl of ramen. I can usually polish off a huge bowl like this by myself, but between bites and slurps of my Black Butao, I was also so busy laughing with my two comedienne companions and their stories of marriage and their very, very (very!) active love lives.

I managed to successfully get through half of  my bowl before all that air from laughing so hard made me too full to eat any more. The sad part? No take out.

Jericho got the Limited King (P450), which changes every now and then, this month being their Curry King. I wish I had bothered to brave the crowds the time they released the Truffle King, that stuff sounded amazeballs! Jericho said he liked the curry, but ramen really wasn't his thing and he didn't see himself going back there anytime soon and shelling out a little under P500 for a bowl of noodles.

The ramen concept really isn't for everybody. I would gladly go back to Yushoken in the south or this place for my ramen fix - it'll be especially nice once the weather gets cooler - but generally only these two noodle houses, since what they serve is so different from your usual miso-based ramen shops.

If you're still not satisfied with how your ramen tastes, there are a few condiments on the table that you can help yourself to - if you want your bowl a little more peppery, garlicky, sweet, or oily.

Speaking of non-ramen fans, Eric wasn't a fan of ramen either (he just goes because his wife suffers from ramen-brain from time to time), and ordered Karaage and a bowl of rice instead. I got myself a piece, and this was crunchy, crunchy, crunchy, complimenting my bowl of noodles nicely.

Overall, I quite enjoyed myself at Ramen Nagi and definitely have plans of paying them a couple of more visits, probably at their Mall of Asia branch the next time around. Albeit, the price for a bowl may be pricey, the servings are pretty big and you will definitely be full up after you lick it clean.

When mucking around Manila and missing the flavors of Hong Kong, drop by Ramen Nagi at the Skypark of  SM Aura and tuck into a bowl of your favorite ramen. If you're feeling peckish, they also have non-noodle related items on the menu like gyoza and karaage.

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Ramen Nagi
+63 2 828 6793
Skypark, SM Aura Premier,
Open Daily: 10am - 10pm