Thursday, March 23, 2017

First Bite: Hanamaruken

I have been hearing a lot of good feedback about this ramen joint at The Grove. It made me curious when two of the foodies I know and trust mentioned that this is their favorite place for their noodle fix. However, I could never seem to find time to visit as I usually head elsewhere. Luckily, I got the perfect opportunity to drop by last Saturday.
Hello, Hanamaruken.
We were greeted by the restaurant’s striking blue round signage and it felt like we were transported to one of Japan’s modern ramen bars as soon as we stepped inside.
The beautiful dark brown tables along with eye candy Japanese décor and yellow lights tickled the frustrated interior designer in me.
Since this visit was part of the Zomato x The Grove by Rockwell Food Hop, we were able to try several dishes.

First on the list was Signature Happiness Ramen (PHP480). 
This beautiful bowl of ramen topped with slow-braised custom cut soft boned pork rib was heavenly. I loved the richness of thes shoyu tonkotsu broth without being too overwhelming or cloying. 
The ribs too were divine! I really appreciate the slight twist Hanamaruken did for this dish. Instead of the usual sliced chashu, they put in a whole rib! And even the bone's edible. Yes, it is that soft! (I feel sorry for the dogs though as we just ate the whole thing.)

I also liked that the noodles were firm and remained firm till we were done with our shoot (which lasted for over half an hour).
The Curry Tan Tan Mien (PHP340) which uses the same base as Signature Happiness Ramen was good too. It had a lovely curry taste which is uncommon for most ramen bowls. I liked that it wasn't that spicy and overly flavored.
We also got to try the dry ramen called Arakawa Abura Soba (PHP290). This dish is a collaboration between Hanamaruken and Wrong Ramen. The pan fried ramen noodles in reduced tonkotsu sauce, topped with slow cooked spareribs, onsen egg, R Lapid's chicharon, nori strips and negi concoction seemed to be a noodle lover's version of beer match. 
It's best to share this bowl with someone as it tends to be on the salty side.
I wasn't able to try Champon (PHP320) or Hanamaruken's version of chopsuey
But I didn't hear any negative reaction from the other foodies I was with so I'd assume that it was at least decent.
Hanamaruken's rice bowls were pretty good too and affordable at that. We sampled Happiness Rice Bowl (PHP250) and Drunk Man Rice Bowl (PHP280).
The Happiness Rice Bowl, similar to its ramen counterpart, has pork rib on top of perfectly cooked Japanese rice. 
The saltiness of the succulent pork was just as good and I feel that it tastes a lot better with rice. I'm just not sure if it's the Asian in me talking, but I liked how the strong flavor of the rib was balanced by the neutral tasting rice. 
Drunk Man Rice Bowl, on the other hand, as the name implies, is designed to cater to intoxicated foodies. The kakuni or braised pork was paired with two sunny side up eggs and sprinkled with chili bits. 
Since I'm not fond of spicy food, I brushed off the spice and went with the braised pork with rice and egg. And the taste was quite similar to Happiness Rice Bowl. But do get this if you love eggs!
I wasn't able to try the mouthwatering Chicken Karaage (PHP320) as well as I was too focused getting my portion of ramen with noodles (which, believe me, could be very challenging for those who lack chopsticks skills). 
I'll definitely order this on my next visit! 
I last sampled the humongous Ebi Tempura (PHP480).
Hanamaruken uses tiger prawns for its tempura hence its size and price-wise, it's actually one of the cheapest I've had. But cheap doesn't mean bad tasting as the fresh prawns and crispy batter combo was an absolute winner. I actually liked this dish more than its ramen! I think I now have a new favorite place to satisfy my tempura cravings. 
Overall, it was a great dining experience. Service was superb and food was good. It'd be better though if they could adjust the saltiness of some of their dishes. 

Hanamaruken is located at Ground floor, The Grove by Rockwell, Ugong, Pasig City.

Hanamaruken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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