New Restaurant Alert: Hanamaruken Ramen at Trinoma, Quezon City
Where else can you find happiness in a bowl?
2/F Trinoma Mall, North Avenue corner EDSA, Quezon City
Tel. No. 720-9283; 628-1603
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Monday to Thursday) and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) On one side is a large photo of what looks to be a ramen tidal wave. Swirly fish cakes swamped under fine noodles whirling with broth. It's a fine piece of art, but take it to suggest what you'll find at Hanamaruken. Instead of the subtle but deep profile of broth, here, each sip will engulf you in flavor.
Very subtle floral accents
The ramen illustration may only be viewed on the placemats.
Hanamaruken the ramen joint originated in Osaka in 1982. From the street-style charm of the first 40 stores, the Trinoma branch-the first outside Japan-decidedly takes on a more upscale, trendier approach: wide spaces, grey color scheme, clean lines, cage lighting. Hana maru ken literally means "flower round house," which manifests in the floral theme of the logo and dainty flower accents on the wall. Hanamaru ken, on the other hand, means "excellent restaurant," a philosophy the owners take to heart.
Curry Tan Tan Mien (P320)
Of the mushrooming ramen spots in Manila, only Hanamaruken guarantees Happiness simply by slurping. Founder Takaku Arakawa's signature Happiness (P480) is a bowl mouthwateringly large and deliciously comforting. There's a sheet of nori on the side with the words "Happiness is coming" in Japanese. With that powerfully rich aroma, happiness is pretty close. The broth is a mix of shoyu and tonkotsu, making each sip a formidable punch in flavor-saltiness from the soy sauce base and savor from the pork undertones.
Arakawa comes from a family of butchers and, as they are well-known suppliers of high-quality meat in Japan, he wanted to highlight good pork in his dishes. In Happiness, on top of the springy noodles and clear broth is a slab of pork rib nearly the size of a forearm. The pork rib is slow-braised for 10 hours, creating a tender, pull-apart texture that’s easy to manage even with chopsticks. It's doesn't make for the most graceful eating, but happiness isn't always about poise.
Tiger Prawn Tempura
Drunk Man Rice Bowl
The menu is only two pages long, bearing less than 20 dishes, seven of them ramen. There are delicious rice bowls-the fiery Drunk Man Rice Bowl (P240) with braised pork chunks and fried eggs and the delicately spicy Curry Chahan (P140) or curried fried rice take the top honors. There’s Gyoza (P150) and Tiger Prawn Tempura (P380), as well. They're all lipsmacking in their own right. But really. How can you top Happiness-in a bowl?