New Restaurant Alert: Oyasumi Ramen at Little Baguio, San Juan
Flavored noodles add dimension to their incredible range of soups.
308 P. Guevarra Street corner Sea View Street, Little Baguio, San Juan City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Anyone who’s made the standard Manila ramen run (you know the noodle joints we’re talking about) develops preferences. Tonkotsu versus tori; shio versus miso versus shoyu; kotteri versus assari; Hokkaido versus Fukuoka...the list goes on. Those preferences turn into habits, and the ramen-loving folks of the city have been divided in loyalty for their particular favorites.
The bar area for solo dining
The wall on the second floor projects Japanese anime programs.
Co-owner Miguel Ledesma (left) preppin'
Oyasumi is a pleasant surprise, a player that’s late in the game but rushes in swinging as if to make up for it. At a time when nearly every variation of ramen has been exhausted in the Metro, four young entrepreneurs squeeze through and pull out something interesting. Oyasumi opened in May and features Yokohama-style ramen, tonkotsu-based broth seasoned with shoyu or soy sauce in a funky industrial black setting.
They have five soups to choose from, each a thick product of simmering for at least seven hours. The Iekei (P350), Oyasumi at its most basic, is a deep and focused harmony of classic pork-infused broth, three sheets of nori, and stewed spinach; a great introduction to what this restaurant tries to build. The stylized La Paz (P370) is a spunky marriage of Pinoy and Japanese traditions, where slices of pork blood mingle with barbecued pork, chicharon with aji tamago—a motley crew that somehow makes perfect sense.
Iekei with plain noodles
Black Pepper with a thicker cut of chasu and curry noodles
The Tomato (P370) is a sweet-and-sour party in your mouth, while the Black Pepper (P370) is an instant love affair. Black pepper furnishes a ticklish peppery note into the smooth Iekei, a simple little sprinkle that develops into an entirely different world of flavor.
Then, there’s the spiced-up Kara Miso (P370). Momiji pepper and chili powder whack out heat like it’s -2-degrees Celsius outside. It comes in a gentle level one to a slap-you-in-the-face level four. The last one is no walk in the park.
Kara Miso with squid ink noodles
The noodles are impressively artisan. They’re chubby square-cute things hand-made fresh every day, springy, bouncy, and, for lack of a better word, al dente. This is definitely where Oyasumi excels. The noodles come in Squid Ink, Curry, and Spicy, which you can mix and match with the soups for an extra P20 (another P80 gets you a thick-cut chasu). The flavors are distinct, but not overpowering that they’ll end up in a shouting match with those bold broths. It’s a perfect marriage, every single time.
Interestingly enough, running out of noodles is part of the fun at Oyasumi. Here, they turn your leftover soup into a delicious Cheesy Risotto (P60). The pairing of Parmesan and mozzarella creates a light yet luscious platform for the original flavors. The extra water from the risotto, for example, tones down that Kara Level 4 into a delightfully subtle but spicy reproduction.
Co-owner Martin Ledesma has wanted to do something with ramen since 2009. He was in Singapore where he was captivated by Ippudo Tao (a higher end concept by the Ippudo group), but plans were pushed back in favor of a previous endeavor, Mu Noodle Bar (another tasty story for a different day). Eventually Martin found his way to Japan where he studied how to make ramen for three months.
Oyasumi reinforces their ramen with other excitements. The Gyoza (P150) is kept flat for a promise of crispiness, while the Cha Soba (P280) or matcha-infused buckwheat noodles offers ultra-cool refreshment. Cross your fingers that they'll make the risotto available even without a ramen order.
Other ramen joints bank on habit and the pull of the familiar, but at Oyasumi, every visit is a different undertaking all the time.
Photos by Majoy Siason