On the Spot: Chef Ikuta Satoshi of Ramen Nagi
Chef Ikuta Satoshi of Ramen Nagi tells us what he’d put in a Philippine-inspired ramen bowl. His answer has probably popped into your head, too.
(SPOT.ph) Cloudy skies and thunderstorms could not put a damper on the day Ramen Master Ikuta Satoshi dropped by Ramen Nagi's newest branch at Robinsons Magnolia for a casual cooking demonstration and meet-and-greet with Manila's ramen addicts and foodie journalists. We must admit that the damp weather actually enhanced the multi-sensory experience that comes with slurping good ramen.
The limited edition of the Bonito King or fish and pork broth, inspired by a popular ramen in Japan called Gyokai-Tonkotsu.
The successful noodle joint chain from Japan rose to astronomical heights from its humble beginnings in Tokyo's Shinjuku district, thanks to its master chef's commitment to "authenticity, quality, innovation, and creative thinking." Every bowl is custom made to your liking, based on four basic choices: Butao King (original pork broth), Black King (with squid ink), Red King (spicy miso), and Green King (with an Italian pesto-like soup). Veering away from the controlling (Did you say "Ramen Nazi"?), neurotic image of Japanese chefs, Chef Ikuta allows you to enjoy your bowl of molten, porky goodness the way you like it: Spicy, garlicky, rich or light? Do you want your noodles soft or al dente? The choice is yours.
We are huge fans of Ramen Nagi and so we are excited to pick the brain of the genius behind this famous chain. Chef Ikuta sits down with us and satisfies our curiosity- and bellies- in between slurps.
What made you decide to be a ramen chef?
I wanted to master one product only and the simplicity of ramen inspired me to be a chef. I also felt that I can communicate and reach people through ramen and that is what makes it more fulfilling.
Why do you think ramen has become well-loved all over the world?
Aside from its simplicity, I think ramen became popular because you can have it anytime you want. Ramen can be eaten whatever season it is. It is also nutritious and very fast to prepare.
When you sit down to enjoy a bowl of ramen that is not your own, what components do you look for?
I am very particular with the richness of the soup broth, the taste and texture of the noodles, and the quality of the ingredients.
Unlike most Japanese chefs who are traditionalists, you seem to be very open to fusion cuisine.
I don't consider our ramen to be fusion. As I mentioned earlier, ramen helps me communicate with people. My way of reaching out to them is to use the most popular local ingredient the country has to offer. I also get inspired by the country's most popular dish. A bowl of ramen helps me connect with people through their traditions.
If you were to come up with a "Philippine Ramen", what ingredients would be in it?
Ramen Nagi now has branches in SM Aura, SM Mall of Asia, SM North Edsa, and Robinsons Magnolia. Try the limited edition Bonito King, inspired by a popular ramen in Japan called Gyokai-Tonkotsu (fish and pork broth).