Friends would often invite me to try a ramen house just across the Makati Cinema Square. I had never said yes. More than dreading the traffic situation around the area after office hours, I always thought all ramen tasted the same. And in the event that I have a specific craving for those Japanese noodles, I can think of other ramen places that are closer to where I work.

Unlike our usual hot and humid weather, this season is perfect for ramen that I couldn’t pass up the invite. And so off we went to Yamazaki—a Japanese grocery outside the Little Tokyo compound that houses a dining wing for authentic ramen hunters.

Hajimemashite! Greets the lady by the entrance. On any day, expect lines of people–families, foodies, and Japanese nationals alike–practically spilling out the doors. To me, it’s always an indication of good food.

We had the Shoyu Ramen Set, which comes with Yasai Itame (stir fry vegetables) and Gyoza (meat and vegetable dumpling). For only PHP218, this set is good enough to serve 2 to 3 people. While we went to the place primarily for the ramen, it was really the gyoza, plump in juicy meat filling and encased in (for lack of a better term) al dente wrapper that’s crisped up perfectly on one side, that made us literally ask for more. An additional plate costs PHP84.

The Miso Ramen (PHP196) came in a wide white bowl and had generous servings of the broth, noodles and other ingredients. The savory flavor of the miso paste together with the crisp fresh vegetables and springy noodles is good enough to fill up 3 hungry tummies.

Besides ramen, we also had rice meals. Try Ikatendon (Squid Tempura Rice Bowl, PHP207). Complemented by the traditional sweet sauce, the squid was tender and perfectly cooked.

The Katsu Curry Rice (PHP218) is another must try. The crunchy texture of the pork katsu topped over the creamy curry sauce demands more than a bowl of rice.

We also tried the Beef Yakiniku (grilled beef, PHP207), which comes with Mentaiko (Japanese mayo pasta) cabbage, miso soup, and rice. The flavors of mirin, sake, and soy sauce has seeped well through the seasoned beef and goes perfectly with (more) rice.

All rice meals serve 1 to 2 people or if you’re like me and don’t want to share, then just one.

While I had a qualm about how much we were to shell out after finishing all dishes, it was incredibly surprising that our bill was just a thousand bucks. But more than the price (and the pretty grocery), Yamazaki is worth going off the eaten track for because of its remarkable authentic Japanese meals in generous servings. And trust me, it’s worth battling the Makati traffic.

Yamazaki is located at 2277 Fernando Street corner Pasong Tamo Street, Makati City. 

Photos by Jeruel Pingol

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