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Earlier this year, we opened our first ever restaurant. It’s called Wrong Ramen.

I’ve been hesitant to plug Wrong Ramen on Pepper because I was afraid that people would patronize the place just because the folks from Pepper are part of it. That wouldn’t have been fulfilling. I wanted to see how people would honestly react.

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The whole restaurant can seat only 21 people. Here’s the first floor.

In the past two weeks, a lot of amazing things have happened: Wrong Ramen hit the number one spot on Looloo’s trending list, sales are peaking at an all-time high, and we’ve been turning away waiting customers at an alarming rate. I can’t be any happier with how everything has turned out so far. I guess now, it’s safe for me to talk about our restaurant.

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And here’s the second floor.

Why Wrong Ramen?

We really wanted to open a ramen house because we love ramen. The problem was that we had absolutely no way to compete against everyone else’s Japanese cred. Seriously, take a look at our competition:

Ukkokei Ramen Ron: led by a Japanese chef, from Japan.
Ramen Yushoken: co-created with the son of “Ramen God” Yamagishi, from Japan.
Mitsuyado Sei-men: from Japan.
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen: from Japan.
Kitchitora of Tokyo: co-created with a Japanese chef, from Japan.
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka: from Japan.

The most convenient route for us to join the fray was to get ourselves a Japanese name, draw some calligraphy, buy some bamboo, hire a Japanese chef, and instruct our staff to chant “Irrashaimase” in unison whenever a customer passed through our doors. However, we felt that us doing that would be too superficial, too insincere.

I remembered the story of Avis back in the 60’s. Avis, now the second largest car rental service in the world, used to trail its competitor Hertz by a mile. Determined to successfully compete and win customers over, they rallied back through a brutally honest ad campaign that centered around being number two. Taglines like, “Avis needs you. You don’t need Avis. Avis never forgets this.” and “Avis is only number 2. But we don’t want your sympathy?” won the hearts of people.

Our in-store posters were inspired by Avis’ ads in the 60s.

Could the same approach possibly work with our ramen?

We asked ourselves, what if instead of trying to fake being Japanese, we played up our lack of Japanese connections and use that as our strength?

Was it difficult making that decision to push through with the concept of Wrong Ramen?

Oh, yes. It was scary, uncomfortable, and most people we told about our plan thought it was a bad idea. But we felt that’s precisely why it had so much potential. Nobody else would dare do it.

Are there any ramen houses around the world that inspired Wrong Ramen?

There are three specific ramen houses that we found really interesting: Ichiran, Butao, and Ramen Jiro.

Ichiran Ramen is a ramen chain in Japan that serves only one type of ramen (with several variations). What we loved about it is that they set up the space like a library where you’ll be led to a private booth that prevented you from talking with your friends. They also minimized interaction by delivering your ramen bowl through a sliding door on your table, not by a server with a tray. If that’s not enough, your table has a faucet that spits hot tea so you don’t need to ask for it.

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You can take out the dividers if you’re a pair or a trio.

Butao Ramen is Hong Kong’s most talked about ramen house. What’s admirable about Butao is that it beat Santouka (in Hong Kong) and it’s been going head-to-head with Ippudo, the world’s largest and best ramen chain, despite not being a Japanese brand. They’re also playful with their menu, with a ramen bowl with parmesan and another one with squid ink. (On a slightly different note: Butao will be coming to Manila soon.)

Ramen Jiro has been dubbed as the world’s most “digestion-resistant” ramen. Having ungodly amounts of fat in its broth, Ramen Jiro’s customers are mostly male college students who can still afford to punish their organs without dying.

Wrong Ramen took inspiration from Ichiran’s introverted dining system, Butao’s playful recipes, and Ramen Jiro’s fat content.

What is Wrong Ramen’s food philosophy?

More calories, more pleasure.

What makes your ramen special?

Every ramen house approaches ramen differently, and there isn’t a “best” way to do it. Some like it delicate with light broths and thick noodles. Some like it balanced with a little bit of everything. Some like it commanding and assertive with high sodium and sludgy broths. We’re the latter.

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If you order our tonkotsu ramen, you’re not just getting a bowl of soup—it’s actually boiled with five different pig parts along with chicken, dried fish, and over ten different seasonings and vegetables.

I’m also fond of calling our ramen “liquid lechon” because of the frightening amount of pork in it. I think that we have the highest pork concentration per bowl of ramen in Manila with about ⅓ kg of dissolved pork in a single bowl of ramen.

So you named one of your ramen bowls the “Sea Men Ramen?”

It’s hilarious. But more than that, it’s a subtle way for us to find our true customers.

People who really get the joke post it online and have fun with it. And when people have fun with small details like this, we can really see who actually “gets” Wrong Ramen. These are the people we want to reach out to.

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Unlike the real thing, it’s not white and creamy.

For a second, I did regret that name when a friend’s 12 year-old nephew asked me what “a semen” is, but I quickly diverted the topic to Adventure Time.

And you’re also promoting your competitors in social media?

I’m a big fan of Ikkoryu and Santouka’s Tonkotsu ramen, Mitsuyado’s Tsukemen, Yushoken’s Shio Ramen and Ukkokei’s Tantanmen. If I liked them, I figured others would, too.

The thing about ramen is that every shop will be different from another and I have to accept the fact that not everyone will like Wrong Ramen. If they don’t, let’s point them to other ramen houses that might be a better match for them.

What do you have on the menu?

Here you go. (Photos by Photokitchen.)

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If you’d like to see the full menu, you can check it out here.

What’s next for Wrong Ramen?

We’re not sure. As diverse as the current ramen scene here is, we’ve been hearing that there are going to be another five to ten more ramen shops from Japan coming to Manila so we’re playing it safe. If you’ve been paying attention, ramen is obviously the next milk tea. There’s a big chance the market will self-combust if it grows too fast, too soon.

Anyway, if you haven’t been to Wrong Ramen yet, I’d appreciate it if you drop by and try our stuff. If you already have, how was the experience?

Wrong Ramen
Burgos Circle, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig
+632 823 8249
Follow Wrong Ramen on Facebook and Twitter

42 Responses

  1. Pingback: Tantanmen Frenzy |
  2. One of the my fave/best ramen resto on my list and when I posted it in FB my friends were all curious and they tried it! So far they all loved it and now one of your regulars as well. :))

  3. my gf and I had our first dinner date here.. loved the ramen and the poop of the gods! Gochi so sama!!!

  4. Had dinner with my friend tonight. I got the tonkotsu and my friend got the *idk something that has bacon in it*. Mine was really delicious… however, as a non-regular meat eater (I am almost a pesco-vegetarian /LOLWHATAPOSER) I find your tonkotsu very fatty… then again I have been warned by this post that your tonkotsu is VERY rich in pork fat (I don’t even eat lechon LOL). Maybe I should have ordered the light version but I really wanted to evaluate your tonkotsu (or rather, compare it to the previous Ramens I had). I’ve tried this certain resto’s tonkotsu that you mentioned atop AND I FIND THEIR TONKOTSU REALLY SALTY (it was also fatty but I think it is normal for a tonkotsu). I can say that your tonkotsu is better than the latter 😉

    Anyhoo… I would like to try your SEA MEN *yeah men!* Ramen and your tonkotsu light on my next visits (plural LOL). When I posted the pics I got from your place to my personal FB, I captioned the album with “How can something so wrong feel so right all along?”

    Yes it feels so right… parang pag-ibig LOL /corny.

    More power to you guys!

  5. Loved the food and concept. Your servers are awesome, too! Paki-commend sila for us. 🙂

  6. I just dined it at Wrong Ramen and had your Tantamen, Chasu Rice Rolls and Poop of the Gods. And everything was perfect! I had everything in one meal. My tongue feasted on the salty, soury, spicy, and sweet menu. The dining experience was superb too! Clean and unique interior. I will definitely go back! 🙂

  7. I’ve been a pepper reader but I never read this feature. Last night we dined at Wrong Ramen and I found all the witty posters and menu so entertaining. haha I thought it sounded a lot like Pepper and looks like Pepper. Little did I know that you guys own the place. Anyway, wrong ramen’s really a nice idea. Good job 🙂

  8. Good job on the concept! So much in common with Madeca. We had the same attitude in putting our little store up…. Neither of us were Mexican, how the hell would we be able to compete with “authentic” Mexican restos? So we said what the heck, no need to pretend! We all loved Mexican food and Filipino food anyway!

  9. My friends and I had lunch at Wrong Ramen yesterday. Love your interiors! Are the tables custom made? The bamboo tabletops are beautiful and the battery S&P shakers are cute!

    We had the Tonkotsu ramen (very tasty broth!) and Tantanmen (spiciness was just right for me). The noodles had that certain chewiness which I like.

    We also had classic rice rolls (nothing great), oyster katsu (we were expecting whole oysters like Yabu’s), cheese and bacon katsu (my friend said it tasted more like ham than bacon).

    I might be nitpicking but when our cheese and bacon katsu came, we noticed that it did not have the thin thread-like toppings like in the photo above and on the menu. We asked the waiter why so and he said that the toppings were already inside the katsu. I think you should check if your cooks are doing the plating of the dish correctly because we were expecting the cheese and bacon katsu to look like the photo on your menu. Maybe those toppings are purely for aesthetics (like parsley on a steak plate) but if the expectation does not match the reality, customers get disappointed.

    There was also something kinda off about the taste of the katsus, like it had been fried in about-to-be-rancid cooking oil.

    For me, the Ramen was Right but the katsus we had were Wrong 🙁

    1. Hey MinQ!

      Sorry about that!

      One of the biggest challenges we face is getting food to be consistent. If any of the stuff on the menu were bad, we wouldn’t put them there in the first place. Things like these happen…and we’re not aware of it. Thanks for letting us know! 🙂

  10. Here at bugsy’s waiting for my turn, 9th on the list. Browsing to pass time. Big mistake! Reading this got me so much more excited to finally try! ♥pepper.ph and giddy that the same genius magic will go into my dinner bowl tonight. Calories here I come!

  11. OMG THIS IS YOURS? I put this place up top with Ramen Ron. Kayo lang top 2 ramen bars ko in Manila. I was one of the customers turned away cause of the long line once or twice but it’s awesome every chance i get to eat here. Great job, Dwight and Mye! 😀

  12. Miss ko naaaa!!!

    Dapat naging honest ka na lang dun sa 12yearold. Hahaha.

  13. thanks for putting in a light option! i love wrong ramen – so glad it’s just around the corner from my office, though it’s too rich to be taken regularly. stay true to your concept please – wrong ramen has many fans.

  14. looks good, i will drop by there sometime this week!! nakakaumay na yng mga iba eh

  15. I just laugh at pa-expert foodie people who say the Wrong Ramen is not authentic, malamang Wrong Ramen nga eh.

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