Atsushi Matsuura was a guitarist for the legendary Filipino rock band The Dawn. If you know the song “Salamat”, he was the guitarist there. He’s also the subject of my most favorite photo from when I was his band’s official stalker, when I had just started to get interested in photography and my tool of choice was a tiny Casio 1.8MP digital camera (don’t laugh; it was THE cool gadget at the time).
But aside from being a musician/rock star, I’ve known Atsushi as a foodie, even back when the word ‘foodie’ was not part of our social media vocabulary. My food knowledge became broader after hanging out with him and his band clique. Prior to meeting Atsushi, I have never imagined snacking on asparagus spears dipped in Japanese mayo spiked with wasabi powder. (Actually, prior to meeting Atsushi, I thought the correct term was ‘wasabe’. ) It was his mom who taught me the difference between soup and stew, way before I even saw Lee Young Jae complaining about Han Ji Eun’s ‘multiplayer’ soup in Full House. Atsushi is actually the one who introduced me to real Korean food by bringing me to Minsok Restaurant which later on became me and my friends’ barometer when it comes to Korean food in the Philippines. (Isn’t that ironic? A Japanese person introduced me to good Korean food.)
Atsushi was the one who taught me and my brother what real Japanese food should be.
Atsushi recently joined the ramen food craze in Manila by opening his own ramen house, called Ramen Daisho. (Eep, there’s a lot of ramen in that sentence. ) My resident psychic Ann and I attended their soft opening last December 14. In all honesty – and I’m not just saying this because the owner is my friend – the food there is crazy goooood. It’s really no surprise because I know how picky Atsushi is when it comes to food, in general, and most especially Japanese food, in particular. He will never dare offer this to the public if it wasn’t good.
I have my own benchmark when it comes to ramen: Ippudo Ramen, which I was able to sample in Hong Kong a couple of years ago. I love their hakata tonkotsu ramen. So when I saw that Hakata Tonkotsu is on Ramen Daisho’s menu, I just had to give it a try:
Let me tell you how good this is: I ordered the large size, which is twice the size of the regular one. I also ordered the one with additional chashu (pork slices). I had this with some gyoza and chahan. I finished them all. It’s that good. (That also makes me a pig, but that’s not news anymore. In my defense, I was super-hungry that night.) The broth is rich and milky, with a healthy dose of chashu and other toppings. Even the soft-boiled egg is perfect. I also noted that the noodles were nice and firm even after some time that they were soaked in broth. Normally (like in Ippudo Ramen, for instance), noodles tend to go soggy after getting soaked in hot broth for an extended period of time, which is why it is encouraged to consume everything as fast as possible. With Ramen Daisho, the noodles still remain to be firm even after a while. But not firm as in having an icky, ‘raw’ texture, like what I experienced with a certain Japanese fast food’s ramen.
Meanwhile, Ann ordered Ramen Daisho’s other bestseller, miso ramen.
I ordered this one when me and my Voltes friends came back last December 27 (where we sorta had dinner with a couple of Kpop idol groups). I totally understand why this is a bestseller. The broth is rich and flavorful, again with perfectly firm noodles and a hefty amount of toppings. The serving size is perfect, too. I ordered the regular size this time because I already know that the large size is too much. I still felt satisfyingly full despite being a heavy eater. Thet actually wasn’t able to finish all of the broth because the serving size is too much for her.
Aside from ramen, they also have other dishes that are equally super-tasty, like gyoza:
I only was able to take a shot of the last two pieces on our plate because I was so hungry, I almost forgot to take a pic.
They also have the best chahan (fried rice) that I’ve tasted in the Philippines:
Aside from great food, they also offer entertainment options while you wait (which isn’t really long; service is quite fast here), such as this short comic strip printed on their place mats:
…or this clever Mt. Fuji origami which folds into a chopstick holder:
You can take a look at their menu here and here. The menu is comprehensive enough to provide a short explanation of what each item is all about. But if you’re still not confident about ordering, the service crew are trained to answer the customers’ questions, so don’t hesitate to ask if you’re not familiar with what you see on their menu.
I definitely recommend Ramen Daisho to anyone who loves good food. Personally, I wish I could come back to sample their lunch menu set, but they only offer it on weekdays and since I live and work far, far away, I cannot find time to do so.
Ramen Daisho is located at Unit 2, Sunshine Square, Liberty Center, 312 Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong, Philippines. Operating hours is at 11:30am to 2:30pm, and 5:30pm to 10:00pm. They have a discount promo of 20% for December 2013 and 10% for January 2014. You can find more info at Ramen Daisho’s Facebook page.