Is Udon Set to Take Over the Ramen Craze in Metro Manila?July 26, 2015
- Pamela CortezWords
The Philippines is definitely a rice country, but that doesn’t mean we are averse to our noodles. We have variations—wet or dry, stir-fried or in soups, made from rice flour or plain flour. They can be eaten with tons of calamansi, or mixed with toyo and chilli. Noodles may not be as ubiquitous a dish in our lives as rice, but we sure love them in any form.
This might be why out of all the food trends that have permeated our culinary scene, ramen has had the longest love affair with Filipino diners. Cronuts are fading fast, froyo and milk tea are almost dead, and kale never really made it to the big leagues. But ramen shops still persist, with new openings monthly, and branches of big chains still going strong. They are filling and complete meals that are chock full of complex flavor, which undeniably appeal to our palates. There is however, another Japanese noodle dish that is slowly making waves, and with its diversity and clean flavors, it might even overtake ramen—udon.
There are now standalone udon restaurants threatening the ramen-sphere, and although they serve up the soba option, too, they concentrate more on the chewy deliciousness noodle. Nadai Fujisoba was first in the metro to bring the under-appreciated dish to the main stage, with a menu full of hot and cold options that were both affordable and seriously tasty. Whether in a hot broth with an onsen egg and yakiniku beef, or served cold with tempura to be dipped in slightly sweet sauce, it was enough to tease ramen-heads out of their bubble. Standalone restaurant Oudon in the Fort puts the namesake dish rolled into creamy bowls of mentaiko, and Japanese chain Tenya serves them up with variations of crisp tempura of every kind.
The game changer will surely be Marugame Seimen, one of Japan’s most famous udon and tempura chains, which will be opening its first branch in Manila later this year. It boasts almost unlimited options of tempura and as much udon as you can eat. With all this stuff invading Metro Manila, are you convinced udon will overtake ramen? Well, there’s enough space in my belly to eat more than enough of both.