Quibranza: Ramen, I say to you

I remember the first time I had ramen in Japan. It was in Osaka in a shop called Hanamaruken. I wasn’t aware then that they already had branches all over Metro Manila.It didn’t matter. All the stars were aligned in making that first slurp a magical one. We arrived in Osaka starving, coming from the airport. It was also way past dinner time. Lastly, Hanamaruken’s Signature Happiness Ramen is the stuff of carnivorous dreams.This particular bowl sheds the spotlight on its 10-inch, slowly braised soft bone pork rib. The snappy noodles and the hot, intensely flavored broth took me to ramen heaven for a good 45 minutes.Here’s the interesting part: I never would’ve floated back to Earth then, if not for a previous ramen epiphany I had years before in Alabang, Muntinlupa.When Ramen Yushoken first set up shop in Metro Manila, I was privileged to have tried their bowls a few times in a year thanks to regular trips up north. It was always a topic among friends when dining there, how the owners weren’t thinking of opening another Yushoken in Metro Manila, thus, the long queues on a nightly basis. Eventually, they opened Mendokoro in Makati — but that’s for another story.Imagine my delight when they decided to open in Cebu City. Now, my favorite ramen place was just a drive away. Judging how the long queues outside its Queen City branch remained on a nightly basis, then we could say that the owners probably made the right decision.Yushoken was the first brand which opened my mind to the possibilities of what real ramen could taste like. Though I still have other favorites in Cebu City (Tongara Ramen, Hamakaze) and Ramen Nagi in Manila and Ichiro Ramen in Parañaque, Yushoken takes the top spot simply due to its first-mover advantage to my stomach via that first, fateful bowl of Shoyu ramen in 2013. Shout-out to Ichiran Ramen in Tokyo, I will be back soon.So what makes a good bowl of ramen? It could get very subjective, but that’s the best thing about it. Everybody can pick their own comfort bowl.For me? Firm noodles, rich broth, perfectly boiled tamago, a little spice, and a generous serving of chashu grilled right. Try out the “super chashu” bowl—it’s not on the menu in Yushoken; ask the server.One day for sure, all the other ramen brands will find their place in this space. In fact, I am looking forward to trying out this relatively new hole-in-the-wall ramen place making the rounds on social media.What are your other ramen favorites in Cebu? Let me know!Ramen, I say to you: Thank you, Yushoken.