I’ve been busy.
That’s the only excuse I can give my dear readers: I’ve been busy. Very much so, as a matter of fact. So much, in fact, that I totally didn’t post anything in September, birthday post included. I think I needed time to get back in sync, find myself, and start over. The bulk of 2016 from February to mid-August had to be one of the most traumatic times – if not the most traumatic time – in my life. Suffice it to say that I am breathing easier now…plus, a surprise opportunity pretty much hauled me out of freelancing and right into a field I’ve always hankered to get into: lifestyle journalism.
But, now: for some food – and serious comfort food at that: ramen, specifically.
A recent grocery shopping trip led me to River Park, the most recent addition to the currently expanding Festival Supermall in Alabang. There are a number of interesting new restaurants, but the one I specifically wanted to try was Ashikawa Ramen Bangaichi.
A branch of a Tokyo-based chain, Bangaichi’s local franchise is held by the same group that runs the Vietnamese chain Pho Hoa. Keeping this in mind, one should not be surprised that the back of the large menu card offers Vietnamese dishes. But, while I’ve become a pho, bun cha, and banh mi fan, I’m not here for Indochinese flavours: I’m here for the ramen!
And a rather large and satisfying bowl of ramen, as a matter of fact. Bangaichi’s butter corn shoyu ramen (Php 340.00) is loaded up with al dente wheat noodles in a rich, slightly porky, wonderfully umami soy-based broth. A knob of butter melting in the hot soup adds a subtle richness that goes beautifully with bright yellow sweetcorn kernels, slivers of slightly tart menma (salt-pickled bamboo shoots), and fresh-tasting wakame seaweed. The bowl also comes with two generous slices of chashu pork: prettily charred around the edges with the char adding a welcome and somewhat nutty bitterness to the sweet, fatty meat.
Call me silly, but my way of eating ramen involves sipping down all the broth before getting down to the noodles et les accoutrements. Once the broth is gone, I sprinkle in some shichimi togarashi for a fiery accent and grind in toasted sesame for some nutty oomph. Toss everything together, and I am a happy camper.
How does this compare to the Sapporo Corn Ramen at, say, Shinjuku Ramen? Not bad, really; while it does not have the almost electric funk of the Shinjuku version (which has a touch of garlic to throw things for a loop), Bangaichi’s corn ramen holds its own very well and definitely is something to come back for on a rainy afternoon.
Ashikawa Ramen Bangaichi – River Park, Festival Supermall, Alabang, Muntinlupa