It’s been a while since I last wrote a food blog, so let’s do away with the celebrity gossip for now and post something to make you all hungry. You’ve been warned!
Last week, I ‘discovered’ through my colleagues’ Facebook posts that a Korean fastfood joint has opened in Malolos, Bulacan, near our Provincial office. I don’t know exactly when it opened, but it sucked that I wasn’t aware of this when I visited the Provincial office last Tuesday. I had to make a special trip specifically just to try this out. Fortunately, my friends Rizza and Jen are both available last Friday and joined me for this meal.
The name of the Korean restaurant/grocery is Mr. Ramyun. Apparently, it’s a franchise that seemed to have originated in Angeles City, Pampanga (one of the first established Korean communities in the Philippines) although I could be wrong because I’m just basing it on the fact that it is listed first on their flyers. For all we know, it originated in Baguio City since there are more branches there than anywhere else. It also has branches in Manila, Quezon City, and Antipolo.
The thing is, since the resto is called “Mr. Ramyun”, by default I should be trying their ramyeon, right? Unfortunately, none of us ordered ramyeon. On my part, I was salivating for the kimchi fried rice because I’ve been craving for fried or mixed rice for the longest time (I don’t know why). I’m also most interested about the odeng because (1) it’s my most favorite Korean street food, and (2) my colleagues and Rizza were recommending it as the best item on the menu. So I ordered these instead of the ramyeon.
The odeng tastes just like the ones in Korea, except that there’s no dipping sauce. Which I found to be sad because the dipping sauce is essential when eating odeng, at least as far as I’m concerned. But the broth tastes authentic, so that’s a plus point. As for the kimchi fried rice, it’s good, mainly because the taste has been adjusted to the Filipino palate. But authentic? Not quite. In fact, it tasted more like bagoong rice than kimchi fried rice. So if you’re the type who eats Korean food but is not quite fond of kimchi (like yours truly), you’ll be safe to have this one.
Rizza ordered the pritong baboy, este, sam gyeop sal:
While sam gyeop sal is essentially prito or inihaw na baboy in the first place, this is not quite sam gyeop sal if you know the real thing. Again, another safe item to order from their menu if you don’t have adventurous taste buds and is not quite familiar with the taste of Korean food.
Jen had the bibimbap:
The plating is similar to Mr. Kimbob’s bibimbap (which, in turn, is also similar to Pepper Lunch’s mixed rice plates). I have not tried the bibimbap at Mr. Kimbob so I can’t compare, but the one off thing that I noticed with Mr. Ramyun’s bibimbap is the use of ordinary hot sauce in place of gochujang (pepper paste). For me, gochujang gives that distinct taste in authentic bibimbap so without it, it’s not quite bibimbap but just plain mixed rice on a hot plate to me.
They also have a variety of kimbap, in plain, beef, tuna and cheese variants. We ordered the cheese kimbap, and later on I took a roll each of plain and tuna kimbaps to go.
The plain and cheese kimbap are quite good; I like it that the kimbap was rolled tightly that the filling doesn’t fall out. I had a higher expectation on the tuna kimbap since it’s my favorite variety whenever we’re in Korea. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite like Mr. Ramyun’s tuna kimbap. I dunno, I think the kimchi that they use – which is more on the ‘aged’ side so it’s a bit sour – does not match with the tuna, so there’s something off with the taste. But the most ‘off’ part of the kimbap is this: when our order arrived, it came with a couple of pieces of calamansi and we were told by the waitress to get our soy sauce from the counter.
I was like, “wait, we ordered kimbap, not sushi!” But then I remembered that when I first had kimbap at a hole-in-the-wall resto in Makati, I barely finished my roll because I was looking for soy sauce and wasabi. Rizza deduced that the rest of the clientele were probably looking for soy sauce and calamansi to go with the kimbap since they don’t know that kimbap is not like Japanese sushi rolls where soy sauce is part of the meal. Thus, the management of Mr. Ramyun decided to add the soy sauce and calamansi by default.
Needless to say, when my family feasted on the kimbap that I took home, they had it with soy sauce and calamansi even if I told them that it’s not needed.
As for the ramyeon, as I’ve said, we didn’t order one so I just borrowed my colleague’s photo from her Facebook to show you their brilliant plating:
Those little golden pots made it authentic. I just noticed that the pots are so tiny that there’s no way that one pack of instant ramyeon (not sure what brand they’re using; probably Jin Ramyeon) will fit on it. It’s just half of a pack, methinks. At 45 pesos per order, I think it’s a bit overpriced because I know the price of a pack of Korean instant noodles. But since they put toppings and a little serving of kimchi on the side, maybe it’s not so bad. I’ll definitely try this next time.
Aside from the kimbap, I also took home an order of riceballs which is basically just rice with kimchi filling + some odeng broth:
Since my family’s taste buds are not quite as adventurous as mine, I was afraid that I will have to finish it myself. But my stomach was already bursting from all that carbo-loading and the kimchi rice is very similar to the riceballs. Fortunately, my niece loved it.
Aside from the restaurant, Mr. Ramyun also doubles as a Korean grocery so you can buy your Korean noodles, snacks, chocolates, and drinks from them, as well.
And… they have a freezer chest full of Binggrae ice cream!
I’ve tasted practically everything that’s on that freezer except for this one: the Meta ice cream cone. I had the strawberry-chocolate flavor.
We had aloe vera juice for drinks, for that full Korean experience.
Actually, for an authentic Korean experience, cold water would suffice. Unfortunately, this restaurant does not offer free cold water (what?!).
What else? Oh. They have free WiFi. Well at least, the Malolos branch does.
And… this branch is open until 2am and they have soju on their refs, so I guess a lil’ Korean binge drinking is allowed?
Lastly… as promotional material, they’re giving away this free fan (pamaypay):
1. Between Boys and Ramyeon, I’ll take ramyeon any time.
2. Do Lee Min Ho and Goo Hye Sun know that they’re promoting this restaurant?
3. BOF (specifically, Goo Jun Pyo) was also used as promo material for another Korean fastfood joint named Flaming Toppoki. After seeing the seething mass of humanity that filled the Araneta when Lee Min Ho was here, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
Anyway… my verdict? It’s recommended if you want to have a Korean food fix and there’s no place near enough to satisfy it. It’s also a safe place to bring newbies to Korean food. The price is also quite cheap (which probably explains the use of substitutes, eg., using regular hot sauce in place of gochujang) and the serving sizes are filling even for me, the big eater. But if we talk of authenticity, I personally think Mr. Kimbob and especially Kim ‘n’ Chi are much more authentic Korean fastfood places. But since there’s no Mr. Kimbob nor Kim ‘n’ Chi in Malolos, Bulacan, this will do.