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IPPUDO RAMEN Manila 一風堂 vs Ramen Nagi: Who Wins as Best Ramen in Manila? @ippudoph

Ippudo Ramen Manila

Location: 3rd Floor, SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Telephone Number: 632-470-1837
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm Daily
Best time to queue: Before 11:00am
Email Address: feedback@ippudoph.com
Facebook: Ippudo Philippines
Twitter: @ippudoph
Instagram: ippudoPH
Ippudo Manila Menu

Ippudo Ramen Manila

And perhaps the “last” of the ramen joints to conquer the populated city of Manila is IPPUDO RAMEN. While the literally “one wind hall” is a latecomer to the already saturated ramen scene, it proves that being late never runs out of style. Nearly 30 years later after Ippudo opened its very first store in Fukuoka in 1985, Ippudo now has over 80 branches in Japan alone, plus Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Sydney, Indonesia and soon, London.

Ippudo Manila World Famous Ramen map

Before Ippudo, we all have Ramen Nagi Manila winning our hearts as the go-to ramen joint. Now that Ippudo has revolutionised the Hakata industry in the metro, who bags the crown of the Best Ramen in Manila?

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I paid a visit to Ramen Nagi Manila TWICE just to rehash my tastebuds so I can a get better comparison. I’m all for a fair review. I’m sure that being invited at Ippudo Manila won’t merit an honest review, so I decided to go out of the box and wait it out. One way or another, a guilty conscience to actually put up a good review should crop up and forced to color all of the dishes with a “delicious” tag.

This should be interesting.

To continuously innovate to remain true.

Ippudo Ramen Manila

The 79 seater Ippudo Manila restaurant resembles their store in Singapore, with all the ramen bowls displayed against the wall. I found it modern, and hip yet maintaining their traditional Hakata beginnings. There’s much hospitality and respect coming from their staff and several Japanese locals that have specially flown in from Japan to oversee the operations. It did help and I felt I was back to being transported in Japan.

Ippudo Ramen Manila

The place has communal tables where you get to share a long table with several other customers, but it doesn’t come across as crowded, awkward and “hard to get out”, unlike Ramen Nagi’s branch in Robinsons Magnolia.

Ippudo Hakata Style Gyoza 一風堂ひとくち餃子 – P195

Ippudo Ramen Manila

While I would love for refreshing Goma-Q or the Dashimaki Tamago for appetizer, I had to first give Ippudo’s Hakata Gyoza a try. They also have the Oroshi Ponzu Gyoza ひとくち餃子 おろしポン酢 with grated raddish yet at its basic form, I find Ippudo’s Gyoza a two thumbs up. I’m never a fan of Gyoza hence not wanting to visit Osaka Ohsho which is also situated in SM Mega Fashion Hall, beside Linguini Fini. Though smaller than Ramen Nagi’s, this type of Gyoza with a crispy, brown exterior and good meat on the inside is one that I always look for in gyoza. Just for the record, I didn’t like Ramen Nagi’s Gyoza as there’s too much beansprouts plus its entirety kind of “limp”.

Ramen Nagi Gyoza – P200
Ippudo Ramen Manila

Ippudo Shiromaru Motoaji 白丸元味 – P375

Ippudo Ramen Manila

At Ippudo Manila, you get to choose among three choices of ramen:

  • Shiromaru Motoaji 白丸元味 – Shiromaru Tamago, Shiromaru Chashu, Shiromaru Special
  • Akamaru Shinaji 赤丸新味 – Akamaru Tamago, Akamaru Chashu, Akamaru Special
  • Karaka-men Ramen からか麺 – Karaka-men Tamago, Karaka-men Chashu, Karaka-men Special

You can then have combinations with Chashu, Tamago or the Special.

I personally prefer Akamaru Tamago having tried that in Ippudo Ramen Singapore with its winning, adventurous miso paste, but for the sake of being fair in comparison, I ordered the Shiromaru Motoaji which is the basic ramen in Tonkotsu broth.

You should be in good hands with Chef Shigemi Kawahara’s Shiromaru Motoaji, as the Ramen Champion displays his best ramen cuisine in this simple, enriching broth, in the way of “Tao”. You can easily savour the pork broth in Shiromaru Motoaji. I found its “hard” texture of millimeter-thin Hakata noodles to be inviting and warm to the stomach, a bit thinner than Ramen Nagi’s. Naturally, I had ordered Kae-dama (P70), another serving of noodles for my broth. Kikurage or bamboo shoots is springy and pork loin was beautifully done. Crushed garlic and sesame are in your condiments, which is now a must in gourmet ramen cuisine.

Ippudo Ramen Manila

On the other hand, Ramen Nagi’s Original Butao King is more robust in broth, and Shiromaru Motoaji, mild, yet lingering flavor. For those who love saltier ramen that’s bound to make you thirsty, go for Ramen Nagi. And for those who are gentle in tastebuds, the Shiromaru Motoaji will give you a run for your money, and its tad cheaper than the Butao King.

Ramen Nagi Original King Butao – P390 (excluding Tamago)

Ippudo Curry Cheese Harumaki チャーシューチーズカリー春巻 – P190

Ippudo Ramen Manila

So Ramen Nagi had to release their own Curry Spring Roll to compete with Ippudo. While Ramen Nagi’s Curry Spring Roll is less crunchy, oddly longer, and larger than the average spring roll (not to mention served with Catsup dip!), Ippudo’s Curry Cheese Harumaki has less curry flavor, is mild but crunchy, and is then served with mustard dip. The cheese seemed to be unnecessary. I would love to combine Ippudo’s crunchy roll with Ramen Nagi’s rich, addicting, curry with a pureed texture.

Ramen Nagi Curry Spring Rolls – P220

Ippudo Hakata Meshi 博多めし – P250

Ippudo Ramen Manila

I’ve always mentioned that Ramen Nagi’s Chashu Rice, topped with diced Chashu, mayonnaise and a sweet, tangy sauce is a great bowl to always order. And it seems that Ippudo Manila’s Hakata Meshi will certainly make you question which is the better of the two. Ramen Nagi’s Chashu rice appears to have too much mayonnaise overpowering the flavors, but both the Chashu pork are tender and addicting.

I love their Chashu pork, tender, fatty and enriching with mayonnaise and “Kiam Chai” that’s my favorite kind of vegetable for any ordinary day. Mentaiko or cod roe is another two thumbs up addition that made me prefer the Hakata Meshi over Ramen Nagi’s Chashu Rice.

Ramen Nagi Chashu Rice – P220

Ippudo Pork Bun 一風堂チャーシューバンズ – P100 per piece

And perhaps I couldn’t compare Ippudo versus Ramen Nagi in the realm of pork buns as they have none. It’s funny that Ippudo’s pork buns during its private tasting event was more flamboyant, with the pork belly, too large for its bao just so it could display its fattening prowess to the world, and the vegetable too flashy.

Well, here’s my pork bun, as ordered in a spontaneous visit. Now this is the real pork bun.

Ippudo Ramen Manila

But don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of the pork buns, though the mayonnaise might have been too much for me. The taste of the pork buns in Ippudo Singapore is uncanny and I stand by what I said in my previous review. I’d go back for the pork buns, not the ramen.

Ippudo Ramen Manila

Other menu items that Ippudo Manila is offering include the Ippudo Bakuretsu Tofu 一風堂爆裂豆腐 which is a Singapore favorite, and the Unagi Rice in stone pot 石焼き鰻ご飯, that’s engulfing me with memories of my last meal in Tokyo, my Unagi Kabayakidon. Then again, that’s another story to tell.

My Verdict: IPPUDO MANILA versus RAMEN NAGI MANILA

Price-wise, go for Ippudo Manila. When it comes to the taste, it boils down to a matter of preferences. Personally, I loved Ippudo’s ramen that’s not making me thirsty afterwards. If you love ramen that’s fattening, rich, where you can control the way your ramen is done, Ramen Nagi will be a better choice for you. But I’ll be honest, overall, I prefer Ippudo’s customer experience, ambience (less crowded), the variety in cuisine that’s flawless, and the taste that’ll make me less guilty in indulging.

How was your experience at Ippudo Manila? Which do you like better? Share your thoughts here at Candid Cuisine!

IPPUDO RAMEN MANILA Rating:

Taste and Originality: (3.5 / 5)
Customer Experience: (4.0 / 5)
Value for Money: (4.0 / 5)
Brick and Mortar: (4.0 / 5)
Average: (3.9 / 5)