Twenty-Five Seven McKinley, 7th Avenue corner 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Shiroi Daichi seems to be a restaurant built on risks—from opening in the midst of a food landscape already teeming with ramen joints to being neighbors with Mendokoro.
Perhaps the biggest risk Chef James Torres took was choosing to serve a version of the Japanese classic that the Filipino market might not even recognize as ramen: the northern take on the noodle dish simply exists in its own category.
We feel we should give you fair warning: this is in no way tailored to local tastes, but that doesn’t mean it's any less good. Thanks to ingredients sourced from Sapporo and cooks trained by Takashi Nishiyama—whose father invented their signature lighter-than-average broth—you get as close as humanly possible to the snowy terrain of Hokkaido without actually having to hop on a plane.
Simultaneously full-bodied and refreshing, the Miso Ramen (P450) has all the flavor of any good ramen, but with less heft. Every spoonful of broth feels like a bubble of fresh water that bursts to reveal a rich umami interior, which we’re perfectly aware sounds insane, but it’s also the truth. The sheet of nori that’s typical of Hokkaido-style ramen also provides a welcome, aromatic bite when you’re about halfway down the bowl.
The same effect can be found in the other broths, but if you want something both your health and taste buds will thank you for, we recommend the Vegetable Shoyu Ramen (P400). The saltiness is deeper, with the broth having a soy-sauce base, but it won’t constantly compel you to reach for a glass of water. The sweetness of the corn doesn’t disrupt it; in fact, its main role here seems to be to provide texture.
It’s not all about ramen at Shiroi Daichi; after all, Gyoza (P220) can never go amiss. Fried to a near crisp on one side, receptive to bites on the other, and decidedly non-oily, these classic dumplings are about as light as the ramen it’s meant to be paired with.
The Tonkatsu (P320) presents a fair contender for your attention, served with a special sesame aioli (we know!) that helps take you from the crunchy exterior to the tender center. And if choosing wasn’t hard enough, the selection of dry noodles takes it up a notch: the Maze Men (P480) might remind you of a familiar umami snack you probably had back in college, but is elevated with high-quality noodles and all the toppings you could want. The chasu and soft-boiled egg give this flavor bomb more in terms of both body and taste.
With all the ramen shops that have already invaded Manila, you may be asking, “Why should we care?” You need only look to the existing clientele: Shiroi Daichi’s already got regulars, many of them Japanese. So take your time perusing—order some Soy Garlic Edamame (P180) if you have to, and try to remember that you’ve only got one stomach. You can always come back.
Photos by Majoy Siason