Reviews

Mendokoro Ramenba from the Makers of Yushoken is Now in Makati

December 17, 2014

I’ll probably get vilified for this statement, but I’ll say it anyway—Elbert Cuenca is the Philippines’ version of Ivan Orkin. To all those unfamiliar with the name, Orkin was featured on the first series of A Mind of A Chef, a New Yorker who dared to open a ramen shop in Japan. The ramen master became known for his broths, soon opening up in his native New York, and publishing a cookbook. Some even said his ramen was just as good as those found across Japan, maybe even better than a few, and all this from a guy who used to be a teacher in Tokyo.

Mendokoro1

Cuenca, famous for his and his brother’s exacting philosophy on cooking, is just like Orkin, but in Manila. He’s making ramen here that might be better than those owned by Japanese chefs around the city or even some of the foreign imports. I’m making that statement because I know it’s true. Yushoken, that mythic shop in a strip mall in Alabang, is my favorite ramen place in Manila.

Garlic Miso Ramen (PHP 440)

One of the things that made Yushoken so huge was the fact that it was walk-ins only, a little tucked away in the South, one of those restaurants that had a great little backstory. But that often wears away, except in their case. The food was too delicious, in a league of its own, that the lines still crawl out the doors until this day. Almost every bowl is an exacting representation of Yushoken’s dedication to the noodle craft—shio, shoyu, and miso are all artfully done. Trendy tantanmen is rich, soulful, and chock-full of minced pork and unapologetic heat. Even their chahan and karaage are things to rave about, making their slightly ramen Nazi rules bearable. Still, Alabang is a trek away for many, so news that the Yushoken group opened a shop smack in the middle of the CBD was the perfect Christmas gift for foodies around.

Mendokoro3

Tokusei Tsukemen (PHP 450)

Named Mendokoro Ramenba, it is an edited version of its big sister—less seats, a tighter menu that removes all non-ramen menu items from its predecessor. Ultimately, nothing has changed: the place is still well-appointed, the lines just as ridiculous, and the ramen still brilliant.

They offer their standard shio, shoyu, tantanmen, and miso, and their cold ramen salad, plus only two of their tsukemen offerings. There is, however, an off-the-menu special that is unique to Mendokoro alone, a garlic version of their miso. It is umami at its finest, a deep bowl of intensely earthy, salty miso, with a pungency of garlic. The chashu is just as fatty, and perfect in soaking up the delicious stock. The tokusei tsukemen, cold, slippery noodles dipped in a savory, concentrated broth full of pork, was just as intense and complex as it was in Yushoken. Hiyashi Chuka was never really my favorite dish, but for those looking for less intense flavors, the combination of sesame and ponzu in the ramen salad is easily a good choice. No matter what you order here, you’re probably in good hands.

Hiyashi Chuka (PHP 410)

Cuenca has done it again. While I might have a qualm about the more succinct menu, I’m more than ecstatic to have Mendokoro Ramenba in the busy city. It gives anyone who’s missed out on their delicious ramen a chance to revel in the pleasures South people have been spoiled with thus far. Just make sure you grab a seat before one of their limited 180 bowls is lapped up by another hungry dweller.

Mendokoro7

Have you tried Yushoken? What’s your favorite ramen joint in Manila? Tell us below!

This review was conducted solely by the author, who did not accept any form of cash advertising, invitation, sponsorship or payment. It was paid for by the author or Pepper.ph, and the views represented are purely the writer’s own. It is based on one anonymous visit to the restaurant.

Mendokoro Ramenba

Address: V Corporate Center, Soliman St., Salcedo Village
Follow On: Facebook

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez

Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr.

FOLLOW
10 comments in this post SHOW

10 responses to “Mendokoro Ramenba from the Makers of Yushoken is Now in Makati”

  1. ramen lover says:

    Waiting for Carl’s passive aggressive comment against ramen. 🙂

  2. Kazushi says:

    But… but unlike Orkin, Cuenca isn’t the guy who’s actually cooking the ramen. He just has really good taste and is an expert in pulling off concepts that most restaurateurs wouldn’t. He’s a talented businessman for sure, but to call him our Ivan Orkin is kind of ridiculous, at least for me.

    • Victoria says:

      Pamela called it in the first seven words of the article! Thanks to you both for educating me on Ivan Orkin, whose story I hadn’t known until today.

      • Kazushi says:

        Yes, I know she anticipated it, but I just wanted to argue why I think it’s not an accurate metaphor. I do respect Pam’s vast knowledge of food and her brave opinions, but this is one of those times I just plain disagree. 🙂

        No disrespect meant to her, or to Cuenca, who’s probably the best at what he does. Until Elbert opens a well-received ramen shop in Japan, I refuse to consider him an equal to Ivan Orkin. Hell, I think even he would reject that comparison. And I say that as a fan of Yushoken and Elbert’s Cheeseteaks. 🙂

        • Pamela Cortez says:

          Cuenca is no way on that level for sure! I mean that he is like our Orkin, because in Manila, he’s doing better than some franchises or some places with Japanese chefs. I would fail in SAT analogies. Orkin: New York as Cuenca: Manila?

  3. Volts Sanchez says:

    Elbert’s also known for his mane (seriously, his hair looks pretty cool).

  4. Tom D. says:

    To give credit where it is due, the guy who started it all was actually his partner Ryan Cruz. He is a fixture at Yushoken Alabang. I know so because I met one of his relatives who was based in Japan and introduced him to the chefs. I’ve seen them a couple of times at the kitchen so yes, it is really them who are behind the recipes. Bottom line anyway is that it’s hugely successful and obviously run by talented individuals. I’m just thankful that these guys are very active which is why the food and service have always been consistent. Very well written article though!

  5. […] ice cream parlor is all about scoops of the sweet stuff, and Yushoken’s new joint in Salcedo, Mendokoro Ramenba, is trimming down their gyoza and chahan to make way for an all-ramen […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep on

Reading