SPOT.ph Roadtest: Cheesy Dipping Ramen

What does tsukemen with cheese taste like?

PHOTO BY Patricia Baes ILLUSTRATION Warren Espejo

(SPOT.ph) Delicious (and heart-stopping) as ramen is, one common problem with the dish is that the noodles can get soggy over time as it sits in the hot broth. Enter tsukemen, a.k.a. dipping ramen, which resolves the problem by serving the noodles and broth separately and having you consume the dish by dipping the noodles into the broth. As with many Japanese dishes, tsukemen often features umami flavors—think pork, fish, seaweed, and the like. But can you imagine the dish with the creaminess of cheese?

This Tsukemen Gyokai with Cheese Sauce is a limited-edition offering from The Grid Food Market stall Tsuke-Men. It comes as a DIY kit, so we got our aprons ready and assembled the ramen according to the package instructions before taste-testing it for you, too.

Price and availability: A DIY kit goes for P960, and makes enough tsukemen to serve two. You can get your fix by filling out this order form. Note that it's available for a limited time only—try it while you can!

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Best for: Open-minded ramen lovers who are looking for a different way to enjoy the dish.

Best with: It's pretty satisfying on its own, so just water will suffice. We wouldn't say no to enjoying this with kimchi on the side though—it's anything but traditional, but neither is cheese, and kimchi's tart and crisp character helps cut through the tsukemen's richness. A soft-boiled egg on the side wouldn't hurt, either.

Tastes like: Pretty good, actually. The cheese sauce isn't overpowering at all—it adds a subtle creaminess and saltiness, but doesn't take over the fishy, porky profile of the gyokai broth. The chashu is satisfyingly tender, with a savory-sweet flavor that brings the dish to life, and the added katsuobushi amps up the umami into overdrive. The said components make for a rich dish that verges on being cloying, though, so be sure to savor it with the negi and a squeeze of the lime that comes with the kit.

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Manage your expectations: Assembling the kit is straightforward: heat the broth, the noodles (make sure not to overcook to keep them al dente!), and meat, then plate away. You'll have to do the portioning yourself, though, as each good-for-two ingredient comes in its own packet. If anything, we just wish the kit didn't use so much plastic.

Yay or nay: It's a yay for us!

For orders, check out this order form. For more information, check out Tsuke-Men's Facebook page.

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