Japanese cuisine has always been and will always be my ultimate comfort food. So with a rainy August, we decided to check out Kokoro Ramenya, a new ramen house along Roxas Boulevard, to satisfy our craving for a hot hearty bowl of Japanese noodle soup.
I've already seen Kokoro Ramenya's facade prior to the visit. However, I didn't expect the ramen house to have such a wide space. And since we timed our trip on a Saturday afternoon, we were welcomed by a lovely, naturally-lit restaurant adorned with Oriental accents, warm color scheme, and a sleek table setup for a touch of modern comfort.
Although there weren't a lot of diners during our visit to Kokoro Ramenya, we have still brought with us a high bar of expectation. We've heard that this is easily becoming a new favorite ramen destination of Japanese expats and locals alike. And with a Japanese chef, Chef Susumo Murata heading the kitchen, we somehow knew we're in good hands.
The Side Orders
Our group of four were very excited to check out Kokoro Ramenya's ramen selection. And to our surprise, this new ramen house has a wide list of not just ramen items, but also a variety of Japanese dishes. So before we got on to our main course, which in this case has to be ramen, we first enjoyed the other gustatory treats the restaurant offers.
First on our table was this serving of Wakame Salad (P195) which came with not just thick strands of wakame, but also with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and kani sticks. While I can already enjoy wakame as it is, the savory miso dressing made the ensemble even better. Every spoonful was a joy, and we definitely can't get enough of this salad.
We then enjoyed this plate of Gyoza (P155), four pieces of pan-fried Japanese dumplings served with a soy-vinegar sauce. Unlike most gyozas I've tried from other restaurants, Kokoro's Japanese bundles of goodness were plump and meaty. You really get what you pay for as they don't scrimp on the juicy and tasty meat-loaded filling.
Of course, we also didn't miss getting the Ebi Tempura (P275) when we saw it on the menu. One order is made up of four big catches from the sea, coated with batter, fried to a perfect crisp, and then served with a sweet and salty tempura dipping sauce. Yum!
We couldn't go into a Japanese restaurant and not order sushi. And since we wanted to try a lot from their nigiri sushi selection, we just opted for the Chirashi Sushi (P285) -- a bowl of sweet vinegared rice topped with fresh salmon, tamago, kani, ebi and unagi sashimi. Normally, this serving would also have tuna sashimi, but being salmon lovers, we requested if they can just take out the tuna and add extra slices of salmon instead.
We also ordered the Mixed Teppanyaki (P345) which had seafood, beef, pork, chicken and mixed vegetables on an iron plate. Among this plateful of sautéed goodness, I enjoyed the seafood, beef and mixed veggies the most. Every piece of meat was very tender and flavorful, while the vegetables on the other hand, were savory and crunchy.
After enjoying an array of filling and great-tasting authentic Japanese dishes, we finally got down to trying out the noodle items which come aplenty at Kokoro Ramenya.
We first tried the Hakata Classic (P325) among the list of the restaurant's ramen items. Dubbed as one of the specialties of Kokoro Ramenya, this hearty bowl is made of rich and creamy tonkotsu (pork bone) broth which was boiled for 18 hours, freshly-made ramen noodles, and toppings of kikurage mushrooms, chasyu pork and ajitsuke tamago. Every spoonful is subtly tasty and so comforting making it truly perfect for a rainy day.
We also ordered a serving of Gekikara Ramen (P275), an extra spicy miso-based noodle soup with chasyu pork and crunchy beansprouts. I honestly don't go gaga for spicy dishes, but we wanted to find out how spicy Kokoro's spiciest noodles can be. And boy, we were wrong to have dared them! This bowl is by far the spiciest food I've ever had in my entire life. It's even spicier than the Nongshin Shim Ramyun Korean instant noodles! I seriously couldn't pick up any miso flavor on my first few spoonfuls since my palate was instantly numbed by the chili-filled and infused spicy broth.
If you're curious, I actually brought this spicy noodles home. However, even my spicy food-loving family wasn't able to take in this bowl's extreme hotness. But since I didn't want to throw this order away, I ended up replacing the broth with hot water, and believe it or not, it was still spicy! Well, quite tolerable and definitely edible this time around though.
After the first two noodle soups, we also ordered the Curry Ramen (P285), a bowl of chicken, vegetables and noodles in a thick and tasty curry soup. Although I generally love curry, I wasn't sure if I'd like its distinct spicy and herby flavor in my noodles. But surprisingly, I loved how flavorful yet still quite mellow this bowl was. You'll get to savor the curry goodness in every spoonful, without it being overbearing and tiring to the palate.
Aside from hot ramen, Kokoro Ramenya also serves other noodle items. And since I was craving for some cold noodles, we decided to get the Kokoro Tsukemen (P285) -- cold ramen with chasyu, spinach, kani, naruto, ajitsuke tamago and nori, served with a sweet and sour soy-based dipping sauce. Although cold noodles like tsukemen are quite simple, I love how refreshing it is on the palate which strongly reminds me of summer.
The Desserts and Drinks
After a fully-loaded Japanese meal at Kokoro Ramenya, we decided to officially cap off our lunch with some of the restaurant's sweet treats. And since there were only a few dessert items to choose from, we opted to try three of them.
We first had the Black Sesame Ice Cream (P85), a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with black sesame syrup. While we expected this dessert to actually be a black sesame-infused ice cream flavor, we were left very impressed at how truly of sesame flavor this treat was. We also got a serving of Uji Kintoki (P85), a scoop of green tea ice cream on shaved ice topped with sweet azuki beans. Simple, refreshing and yummy!
We also ordered the Japanese Coffee Jelly and Ice Cream (P85), a dessert creation of firm yet wobbly coffee jelly beneath a layer of vanilla ice cream and some evaporated milk. Being a coffee jelly lover, I can say that this treat is my kind of dessert. The jelly has a strong bittersweet coffee flavor which I love, unlike those from other restaurants which are overly sweet. The ice cream and milk are also lovely creamy addition.
For drinks, adventurous diners like me can try the Matcha Milk Tea (P85), a sweet and creamy green tea concoction perfect even for non-milk tea fans as it generally seems more of a milkshake. Conventional diners on the other hand, can opt for canned soda, iced tea, coffee, juice or fruit shake like this Mango Shake (P85).
Our trip to Kokoro Ramenya has heightened my already-undying love for Japanese cuisine. Although prices are leaning a little more towards the higher end, you'll be guaranteed that each item served on your table is of great value for your hard-earned money. And with a plethora of ramen items and other quality Japanese dishes, a bright and spacious restaurant, and a prompt and alert service, Kokoro Ramenya can definitely expect another visit from yours truly really soon.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Kokoro Ramenya, Roxas Boulevard
2/F Avenue of the Arts Bldg., (across US Embassy)
1388 Roxas Blvd. cor. Sta Monica