This Cozy Ramen-and-Sushi Joint Could Be Your Next Favorite Hideaway
They offer Japanese classics with a twist.
Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar
30 Granada Avenue, Villa Ortigas II, Barangay Valencia, Quezon City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
(SPOT.ph) It’s one of those small joints that are easy to miss, but watch for the cute cat sign, and you’ll know you’re in the right place. Another hint is it's right beside cult-favorite Mien San Noodle House. Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar is a hidden gem that is well worth the hunt.
The space at Ohayo is pretty tight, with a ramen counter taking up most of the space. You can sit by the bar and watch the staff prepare your ramen and sushi right in front of you, then consume your meal immediately after, just the way it should be. The second floor is equally as small, but it offers privacy away from the busy street.
The second floor dining area has a dramatic ambience.
But, what Ohayo lacks in space, it more than makes up for with a menu that spans almost every Japanese favorite from appetizers to ramen, steamed buns, and maki. From their kiosk in Tomas Morato, owners Richard Legada, Mikko Cayetano, and Jorge Mendez have come a long way in terms of variety of options. “We started in Tomas Morato as a kiosk that served maki,” shares Jorge who is also Ohayo’s chef. “Tomas Morato has a lot of Japanese restaurants, but there was no perfect maki place in our opinion. So we said ‘OK, gawa tayo ng ganito.’ And it clicked. And then after six months, we found this place.”
For Jorge, the perfect maki had two key elements: “It’s about having the perfect rice, and the good quality, fresh ingredients,” he shared. “Every morning for example, we hoard the salmon at the market.”
This fresh salmon is the centerpiece of a lot of their rolls, like the Salmon Aburi (P220), which Jorge tops with a special aburi mayonnaise before torching. “We mix tonkotsu broth and our homemade Japanese mayonnaise,” he shares. The result is an umami-rich sauce that turns extra creamy when torched on top of fresh salmon. Bits of pickled red radish add crunch and tang to round things out.
Spicy Salmon Maki
Jorge is committed to creating his own sauces, like the spicy sauce of the Spicy Salmon Maki (P250). A mix of ebiko or shrimp roe, homemade Japanese mayonnaise, and Japanese chili oil give these rolls considerable spiciness.
Ebi Black Maki
The Ebi Black Maki (P280) is perfect if you love both maki and ebi tempura. The mildly sweet flavor of the ebi is distinct in each bite, and the crunch is amped up by fresh cucumber and fried squid ink crumbs.
A major difference between their Tomas Morato kiosk and their New Manila branch is the addition of ramen. For their broth, Jorge shares that they use a mix of pig parts plus chicken skin, which they simmer for 24 hours until they get the full concentrated flavor in a jelly form, which they then boil upon order. This makes any of their ramen rich and flavor-heavy, though the Tantanmen (P320) is probably the richest, with nutty and spicy notes to make each spoonful interesting. Instead of thick slices of chashu, Jorge uses small but generous chunks of pork belly, which almost melt in your mouth in delicious succulence.
Be sure to pair your ramen with Gyoza (P120/three pieces, P195/six pieces). You’ve most likely never had the potstickers like this before: Steamed then fried until the bottoms are crisp enough to form a crunchy disc. The method gives the dumplings’ bottom extra crunchiness that complements the rest of the dumplings’ chewiness. And it’s not all gimmick too, with the gyoza boasting a deep porky flavor.
End your meal with Coffee Jelly (P90), brimming with dark and robust flavor.
Ohayo doesn’t claim to make authentic Japanese fare: “The Japanese taste is still there,” says Jorge, “But it’s in our own form.” Judging from their Japanese regulars who sit by the counter and have their ramen like they’re in one of Tokyo’s ramen eateries, they’ve captured that familiar Japanese flavor excellently.
Photos by Vince Bascos