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Archive for April, 2014

a caption at ippudo's glass wall

a caption at ippudo’s glass wall

Though heat is intensely shimmering in Metro Manila, hot ramen eateries and restaurants at the moment are experiencing some renaissance in this mega city.   Like Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter spread in the past, ramen dishes today are a craze in this part of the world.

Since I am spending a fab holiday in Osaka, I will definitely not miss the enormous chance to eat ramen in this metropolis (at least twice).  That is why, I coerced my family to eat again in a ramen house.  This time we searched for the ramen joint that is pretty popular in Manila.  It’s the Hakata Ippudo Ramen restaurant located just a few meters away from the Swissotel in Namba, Osaka.

I proved the popularity of this restaurant in the Philippines because when we reached the ramen house, there were considerable number of Filipino tourists queuing waiting for their turn to be seated.  It was further amplified when it was our chance to enter the establishment.  I noticed that about 80% of their guests were Filipinos.

the queue outside where pinoy tourists converge

the queue outside where pinoy tourists converge

as presented in their english menu...

as presented in their english menu…

Like what I did in Zondouya Ramen restaurant a couple of days ago (read my post about Zondouya HERE), I settled for the most expensive and biggest photo dish on the menu.  Surprisingly, my order called Akamaru Special is pretty similar to Zembo-no, the ramen I enormously enjoyed in Zondouya.

My ordered Akamaru Special ramen also contains sheets of nori, soft-as-butter pork, freshly cut negi, a soft boiled egg, caramelized onions and garlic, plus a generous amount of “straight” noodles.  (in Zondouya, I went for the “curly” variety.)

my enjoyable akamaru

my enjoyable akamaru!

The speed and quality of service rendered by the staff in Ippudo is as fast and as charming as that of Zondouya.  However, when my Akamaru Special was placed in front of me, the first thing I noticed was the presentation.  I straightforwardly uttered, “In terms of presentation, one point for Zondouya!”

I could no longer resist my comparing when I started stirring and mixing the ingredients in my bowl.  Before I uttered another word, I internalize and justified that comparison is one of the fundamental processes of the human mind.  And we define things in terms of their similarities and differences.

akamaru to the left, zenbo-no to the right. now you choose...

akamaru to the left, zenbo-no to the right. now you choose…

I then uttered in a pretty loud voice, “In terms of thickness and full-bodied-ness, another point for Zondouya!”  My nieces and nephews indisputably agreed with me.  My niece Erika seated beside me expressed that Zondouya’s Zembo-no looks richer while Ippudo’s Akamaru was runnier in terms of thickness.

Now the taste.  Tactlessly speaking, I articulated saying, “In terms of taste, another point for Zondouya!”  Some Pinoy guests at the waiting area and nearby tables were starting to look at me, as if wondering what ramen was I comparing Ippudo’s version with.  Nevertheless, I voiced out that Ippudo’s slices of pork were smoother and actually melts in the mouth.  I uttered, “one point for Ippudo for the softness of the pork, nonetheless!” The Pinoy guests looked down onto their bowls and resumed their munching.

But the softness of the pork could not counterweight the enormous savory taste of Zondouya’s broth.  Like a lot of ramen experts, I have always believed that the success of a ramen dish all depends on the palatability of the broth.  A lot of ramen connoisseurs would even do massive research and experimentations just to achieve the perfect broth.  For me personally, Zondouya’s broth formula is truly magical.  Ipuddo’s version nonetheless is very good.

To simply conclude my comparison between Ipuddo and Zondouya, I personally requested to meet the chef in the latter while for the former we stepped out of the establishment happy and thought to myself, I should celebrate differences.  That not all things are equal, some things needs to be less pretty so as to further appreciate others beauty.

Masarap din inperness…

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Since Japan has such an excellent train and subway system, it is always such a breeze to go around. That is why while staying in Osaka, I and my family decided to go to nearby Kyoto for a third visit.

breathtaking

breathtaking

love love love,,,

love love love,,,

Many bloggers and world travel enthusiasts voted this place as one of the fifty places that a person should go to before dying.  I could not agree more!  I am actually honored and humbled and slightly freaked out when I was given this beautiful opportunity to be in such a breathtaking place.

The Sagano Bamboo Forest in Arashimaya, Kyoto is one breathtaking spot in this planet.  A sense of serene tranquility permeates from this lush bamboo scenery.   While traversing the narrow path, it felt like Mother Nature was giving my whole delicious body a warm comfortable hug.

my family from afar, posing for some photo opp

my family from afar, posing for some photo opp

love it!

love it!

The enchanting sound of the bamboos swaying back and forth against the light wind is something to behold.  It was like listening to an angel singing while feeding someone else’s soul. I was not surprised to know that as per amazingplaceonearth.com, this enchanting music-like-resonance is a must-be-preserved sound in Japan as declared by the Japanese government.

It was such a wonder to behold!

Pangkat kawayan ang peg ko dito!

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Flavors were exploding in my mouth and my taste buds were giving a standing ovation shouting, “Bravo!”

These are the general feelings when I had the first bite and first sip of the ramen I tasted at Ramen Zundouya Restaurant located in Shinsaibashi, Osaka.  Since I can’t read kanji, I selected the dish with the biggest photo.  Since it was the biggest picture in the menu as well as the most expensive one, I supposed that Zenbo-no Ramen is this restaurant’s specialty.

the actual dish looks better than the one on the menu

the actual dish looks better than the one on the menu

True enough, my selection was impeccably right.  The Zenbo-no ramen came with freshly cut negi, some absolutely melt-in-your-mouth pork slices, slips of nori, a full soft boiled egg and a good sized serving of “curly” noodles.  Generous amount of garlic cloves are provided on the table which can be freshly crushed using a unique garlic press. But what is so heavenly about this dish is the magic broth that the restaurant uses.  The rich savory broth flavor simply bursts in your mouth!

The feelings induced by this perfect ramen were excellently joyful and heavenly.  For a moment, I forgot my name and thought that I was having an elated out of body experience.  Zembo-no Ramen in so rich and explosively delicious my taste buds thanked me!

super yummy!!!

super yummy!!! 

distinctive interior design

distinctive interior design

i love those "troso" as dining seats

i love those “troso” as dining seats

waiting area outside of the restaurant was me and nengkoy's venue for  our blog header's photo

waiting area outside is the venue of this blog’s header photo

Ramen Zundouya’s website indicates that their first aim is to “captivate the customer with each ramen dish”.  This aim absolutely hit me.  Never in my restaurant-dining experience was I so impressed with the dish that I personally asked to meet the restaurant’s chef.  I was so captivated that I asked for his name and even topped it by asking for a photo with him.  I could not resist to thank him for such an awesome masterpiece.

with chef endou

with chef endou

This unmatched ramen experience was simply outstanding!

Mapapa-jusko ka sa sarap!

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my bottle

my bottle

A lot of friends and colleagues who has been to Japan agrees that the taste of Coca-Cola seem different as compared to other parts of the world.  And I do agree with this observation.  For me regular Coke or Cola in this part of the planet seem lighter to the taste and smoother to the gullet.  It is not disturbingly sweet and not unnerving to the tongue.  I can actually drink a regular coke in this part of the world without the need for ice.

What is even more fun drinking Coke in Japan, particularly in Osaka is that you can actually have your bottle personalized.  Located at Grand Pronto Mall, Osaka’s new mega-shopping town complex is a Coca-Cola store where you can have your name stamped on the bottle label for free.

While my bottle was being stamped, I was imagining on top of a hill and wanted to sing the popular Coca-Cola jingle… I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (a Perfect Harmony).

guess what this store is selling...

guess what this store is selling…

osaka lady stamping my bottle

osaka lady stamping my bottle

my sister's nickname is so exotic

my sister’s nickname is so exotic

so "shota" is a popular nickname in osaka...

so “shota” is a popular nickname in osaka…

My body had changed, my sensibilities changed, though to this day, I still drink Coke.  Admit it or not, but there are lots of chows, cuisines or simple sustenance best consumed with a bottle of Coca-Cola.  I guess, no one is too old to drink this precarious drink.

Its da ril ting… Inom na!

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Being a third timer in Osaka, I can therefore conclude that this charming city never ceases to amaze me.  The place positively radiates character.  Aside from the beautiful weather what I particularly like about Osaka is the almost perfect harmony of old and traditional Japan standing side by side with the contemporary cosmopolitan Japan. Enjoy the photos…

one of those colorful restaurant facades of osaka

one of those colorful restaurant facades of osaka

namba hips at the background

namba hips at the background

absolutely beautiful at night

absolutely beautiful at night

On this third journey I finally realize that Osaka people indeed are less busy, more down-to-earth, less starched, more carefree and (as I personally observed) laugh louder compared to the other people of Japan.

And since I work for a group of restaurants and I love eating.  Osaka is heaven for people like me.  Food is always to die for in this part of the world.  Osaka people I guess must have the happiest taste buds in the planet.

with billiken and my wicked sisters

with billiken and my wicked sisters

charmed by the colors of infectious osaka

charmed by the colors of infectious osaka

Tokyo I know is the front runner of Japan in terms of business, tourism and commerce.  But Osaka is like a younger sibling to Tokyo.  The one who would not boast about his flair and beauty but when opportunity comes to present his, you will simply be enchanted by its gift and endowment. Osaka is the relaxed younger brother who is fresh, cool and hip.

Because of all these, it can be said that this infectious Kansai city is a good representation of Japan to the world.

Di nakakasawa!

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As my world travel continues, let me cap my Los Angeles and Las Vegas write ups with this film. This short goofy video shot inside the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles will basically summarize how I felt about this beautiful American west coast journey.

I would like to thank Karen, Joesel and Denton for taking care of me during this memorable journey. LA and LV is definitely surreal and beautiful.  Unlike those prophetic dreams that you would forget the details when you wake up, my journey to LA and LV will surely be remembered for a long period of time…

Na aning aning na!

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With a rented car, I and my friends drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.  Before we hit the big and lively sin city, we were welcomed by some pretty rainbow gifted to us by the large, dry, barren portion of Mojave Desert.  It was a sign that something good is ahead of us.

a beautiful treat by the mojave desert

a beautiful treat by the mojave desert

While we were in Las Vegas, it is inevitable that I and my friends got to do a little casino sports.  Though I did not hit the jackpot, what I particularly like about the casinos in Vegas are the free cocktail drinks that you can request from the dog-tired looking waitresses that goes around the casino grounds.  It was raining margaritas when we were gaming!

But what I like most about Las Vegas are the cornucopia of architectural landmarks of the Strip.  For me traversing the Las Vegas Strip is just but incredibly fantastic.  It felt like the Strip was breathing and has a life of its own.

the bellagio

the bellagio

the "jaw-dropping" strip at night

the “jaw-dropping” strip at night

my personal favorite

my personal favorite

one of karen and joesel's photo taking exploits at the strip

one of karen and joesel’s photo taking exploits at the strip

the mirage

the mirage

I would not want to go into other details of what I personally experienced in this sin city.  I would like to join the bandwagon of people who profess that “what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas”.  One thing is for sure this unaccounted event is comparable to hitting the Pai Gow Poker jackpot!

the caesar's palace facade

the caesar’s palace facade

My tour and visit to Las Vegas was indeed a blessing beyond compare.

Babalik, babalik!

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Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.

Nengkoy

Nengkoy is the nickname of my mom during her pre-school years. Her parents and relatives call her ‘Ang Neneng Ko’. With her pretty charm and appeal, she was usually called in a melodic way using this lovely phrase. Until it evolved for easier articulation of the phrase, Ang Neneng Ko was shorten to Nengkoy.