Sneak Peek: Ramen Iroha to Open First Store in the Philippines
Chef Kiyoshi Kurihara’s ramen recipes have won him People’s Choice Awards in Japan...and he’s opening shop in Manila.
(SPOT.ph) Global Restaurant Concepts, Inc. is late. Ramen has been the ongoing "It" dish for the past three years, but it’s only now that the group, which brought in California Pizza Kitchen, Mad for Garlic, Morelli’s Gelato, IHOP, P.F. Chang’s, Gyu-Kaku, and the upcoming Applebee’s, is joining in on the trend.
But GRCI’s President and CEO Archie Rodriguez is confident about Ramen Iroha, describing that it hails from a "proud tradition of authentic Japanese."
Founded by Chef Kiyoshi Kurihara, Ramen Iroha originated from Toyama, Japan-famously known as the birthplace of the Toyoma Black Ramen. Kurihara's signature ramen recipes have won him the People's Choice Award for three years in a row (with a fourth in 2014) at the prestigious Tokyo Ramen Show, one of their country's largest ramen festivals. The numbers speak for themselves: In 2011, their Toyoma Black Shoyu Ramen set a festival record by selling 14,585 bowls in five days, with 4,252 bowls in a single day.
According to Rodriguez, "It is this level of excellence that Ramen Iroha aims to serve Filipino diners, who are avid fans of the cuisine." As of today, Ramen Iroha has 14 branches across Japan, Hong Kong, and the United States.
Chef Kiyoshi Kurihara prepares tasting portions as Archie Rodriguez looks on.
Ramen Iroho is opening today, November 30, but Chef Kurihawa already displayed his traditional and elegant flavors at a sneak peek on Friday, November 28. Unlike a good number of ramen houses in Manila that are competing in the tonkotsu ramen (pork bone broth) arena, Ramen Iroha offers a wide variety of savory ramen styles. The charming chef explains each bowl over a plate of his scene-stealing Pork Nira Gyoza (P180/6 Pieces).
Toyoma Black Soy Sauce Ramen
The award-winning Toyoma Black Soy Sauce Ramen (P360/regular, P200/small) is aromatic and dark, the homemade soy sauce imparts a well-rounded flavor that is bold yet not salty. It’s still their signature dish.
White Shrimp Ramen
Another award winner is the White Shrimp Ramen (P340/regular, P180/small), which boasts subtle flavors that tease. It is an excellent showcase of what the menu calls a "luxury" ingredient.
Hokkaido Miso Ramen
The Hokkaido Miso Ramen (P385/regular, P230/small) is highly traditional and well-made, a blend of various types of aged miso. Fans of this kind of broth will appreciate Chef Kurihawa's version for its perfect balance of richness and flavors.
Iroha's version of the tonkotsu ramen-Pork Niku-Soba (P395/regular, P250/small) is indulgent yet not cloying. The usual chashu (sliced pork belly roll) topping is replaced by a leaner pork yakiniku which passes on a meatier, smokier flavor to the soup. Chef Kurihara recommends to break the egg yolk and mix it into the noodles for an even more luxurious experience.
Spicy Miso and Sesame Tantan-men
The spiciest was saved for last: Spicy Miso & Sesame Tantan-men (P395/regular, P250/small). This recipe was the collaboration between Chef Kurihara and Japan's Iron Chef Chinese Chen Kenichi, resulting in a bold yet flavorful soup. There are three levels of spiciness to choose from, but lightweights, we’re obliged to advise, should proceed with caution.
Ramen Iroha's bowls are lavishly garnished with choice toppings, but classics like the gorgeously runny Ajitama (P50) and their tasty and tender Chashu (P100) will undoubtedly be frontrunners.
Chef Kurihara admits that although the broth is the star in every bowl of ramen, the noodles play an important part in transporting those flavors and contributing to the overall dining experience. Their noodles are made fresh in-house with flour imported from Japan to ensure that the noodles stay hard in the broth for as long as possible. The chef advised us, though, to eat ramen like the Japanese-devour those noodles fast before they get soggy. Slurping is definitely encouraged.
Ramen Iroha is on soft opening beginning Sunday, November 30. It is located at W Global Center, 9th Avenue corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City.