Ramen Zundo Ya: The Best Ramen Ever

One great test to determine if a restaurant and its dishes are truly superb is through the guests’ impression on his or her return visit.  It is very common for a restaurant to receive raving reviews on the first engagement.  But almost often, guest becomes disillusioned on their return because they realize that their ordered food – which they totally enjoyed during their pilot visit – was nothing but a fluke or a strike of luck.  In Tagalog, tsamba!

But with my recent visit and return to Ramen Zundouya located at Shisaibashi in Osaka, I can definitely say that this joint serves the best ramen in the universe.

ramen zundouya shinsaibashi branch

ramen zundouya shinsaibashi branch

During my first visit (click: HERE to read my previous post), me and my family were easily led inside and was given a table with such a breeze.  However, on our return, we already have to queue among the long line of patrons waiting for their turn to be assigned with a table.  We were actually listed 13th among those who enlisted to dine that afternoon.

no pinoy on queue yet, pinoys has yet to discover this savory treasure

quiet japanese folks waiting their turn.  no pinoy on queue yet, pinoys has yet to discover this savory treasure

While waiting and drooling on line, my personal claim that this indeed is the best ramen house was actually an understatement.  To prove a point, I in fact noticed one big poster on the wall announcing that they have mushroomed around Japan.  To further prove my point, Ramen Zundouya’s flavor will soon invade America.  It is because a Ramen Zundouya shop is due to open a branch along 10th Street in New York next year!

soon to open in new york (i will definitely try it when i get there)

soon to open in new york! (i will definitely try it when i get there)

To check the consistency of this restaurant, I again ordered for the same dish I had during my first visit, the Zenbu-nose Ramen.  When the bowl was served in front of me, I was absolutely surprised because the presentation and the arrangements of all ingredients placed in the massive porcelain was still impeccably beautiful.

And when I had my first sip of the broth/soup, nothing actually changed!  Nothing changed because the world seemed to stop for a moment for me to savor the paradise-like flavor of Zenbu-nose Ramen.  This matchless concoction was without a doubt an invigorating assault in all of the senses!

zenbu-nose ramen (my tastebuds had  a blast!)

zenbu-nose ramen
(my tastebuds had a blast!)

Walang kaduda-duda, ang tindi ng sarap!

Ippudo Ramen: A Very Good Second Best

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…

A Savory Ramen Experience at Ramen Zundo Ya

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!