When my sister turned 24 on Saturday, we were actually in a dither as to where to have her celebratory dinner. We’d ordered in Chinese food for lunch earlier in the day, but a serious Nihonophile like my sister deserved a proper Japanese meal. Fortunately, my brother called up just a little after lunch to tell us that we were going to have dinner that evening at Kenji Tei.
Kenji Tei has to be one of the more underrated ramen houses in the Greater Manila Area, seeing how people would more likely go to Japanese franchises like Hokkaido Ramen Santouka or Ramen Yushoken or to more popular dives such as Ukkokei or Mitsuyado Sei-Men. But the food is good: amazingly simple yet delicious and quite decently priced.
We started the meal with the sashimi platter and a plate of spicy salmon maki. The platter features a nice mix of fresh and cooked treats: maguro tuna and slices of raw salmon, silvery-rosy bits of fresh mackerel, crab sticks cut on the bias and sweet tamago-yaki (rolled omelet), and sweet raw sea urchins that crunch when you bite but melt into briny-sweet richness in your mouth. The salmon maki will appeal to fans of another Japanese restaurant’s tempura tuna sashimi tartare as it features a crunchy-tender mound of raw salmon chunks and tempura crumbs bound in a mayo-dressing made heady with fiery wasabi on top of chunky, well-filled uramaki. Seriously, if I had my way, all I’d eat would be the salmon maki – but the ramen… Oh, yes, the ramen…
We each opted for a regular sized bowl of our ramen of choice – and the regular size is actually big enough to be shared by two particularly hungry diners!
My bowl of choice was the chashu miso ramen (P 268.00 for the regular size). This was a fairly large, deep bowl filled with semi-hard wheat noodles in a rich, nutty miso broth with a bit of a smoky nuance added by toasted sesame seeds. Along with generous bits of pork mince, scallions, and spinach, this dish actually takes its name from the three thick slabs of beautifully-cooked chashu pork that are floated on top of the dish along with half a medium-boiled egg.
You would do well to order an extra couple slices of the chashu pork as it really melts in the mouth and has a rich, almost ham-like smokiness to it. You would also have to order an extra bowl of noodles (P 40.00 per bowl) to help sop up the generous broth.
It was definitely a meal that really made my sister’s birthday – and one I would definitely enjoy again one of these days.
Kenji Tei Ramen House: Ground Floor (Cinemas Area) – Alabang Town Center, Alabang-Zapote Road, Muntinlupa City