Over the past few weeks, I’ve had a serious ramen craving. Blame it on the weird weather; blame it on the weirder than weird situations I’ve been in over the past four months. You could also blame, I think, having to deal with somewhat difficult people over the same time period. But, regardless of whatever reason, I wanted ramen.
The good news is that there is actually a very good ramen-ya just a short walk from where I work now. The bad news is that the place is packed to the gills with people at lunchtime. But, in my case, fortune favors the desperate (or the seriously depressed, for that matter): and a need to have dinner before diving into the increasingly worse homeward traffic led me right up to Ramen Kuroda.
Tonkotsu ramen is the specialty in this particular shop, which is to say that noodles are tossed into a bowl of silky, savory, collagen-rich pork broth upon serving. You know the sort: pork bones and cartilage are cooked down with seasonings to yield a milky-looking broth that is said to do wonders for your skin. Here, you can have your broth as is (shiro – white), given a shot of fiery tomato-chili miso paste (aka – red), or with an inky-looking splash of roasted garlic tare (something of a heady, savory black garlic confit) as in the case of the kuro ramen and kuro chashumen.
Here, Php 180.00 gets you a bowl of ramen (regardless of variant) with half an ajitama (soy-cooked mollet-style [firmer than soft-boiled but not quite hard-boiled] egg) and a slice of chashu (roast pork belly). However, PhP 230.00 gets you a chashumen – a bowl of ramen with ajitama and four slices of pork. Believe me when I say you’re good to go shelling out extra cash for the extra chashu.
What you get is a bowl of firm, chewy noodles – thinner, perhaps, than what other noodle shops sell, but a generous amount cooked al dente, nevertheless – soaking up that rich, porky-tasting soup. The addition of the black garlic tare in either the kuro ramen or chashumen adds a smoky richness, a somewhat vegetal tang, and a delicate sweetness that tempers and is tempered by the smoothly rich broth. You would think that a ladleful of the stuff would make the soup far too pungent for comfort, but it doesn’t. In fact, it’s deliciously subtle – and you needn’t worry about garlic breath if that’s what worries you.
By the way, the amount of broth also warrants an extra order of noodles (kae-dama); don’t fight it, go with it, and enjoy it.
Ramen Kuroda: 3rd Floor – RCBC Plaza, Salcedo Village, Ayala Avenue cor. Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue, Makati