Friday, February 28, 2014

Tampopo in Greenhills - The First 2 in 1 Ramen and Tonkatsu Specialty Restaurant in the Philippines


How to Eat Ramen Like a Pro According to Tampopo

by


Originally from Singapore, Tampopo in Greenhills is the first 2-in-1 ramen and tonkatsu specialty restaurant in the Philippines. The brand was started by Takaaki Takagi, who also founded Tonkichi, one of Hong Kong and Singapore’s best Tonkatsu restaurants. He decided to name the ramen and tonkatsu restaurant Tampopo (literally: dandelion) after the classic Japanese comedy film that centers on a quest for the perfect ramen recipe.


Takaaki Takagi
 
Filipino franchisors: Chris Tiu and George Huang

In the film Tampopo, a ramen sensei outlined the steps of eating noodles like a pro. Where else is a better place to try the technique than at the very restaurant it inspired? Armed with an empty stomach and a phone with a bookmarked clip of the specific scene in the film, we reserved a table at Tampopo to re-enact Tampopo and consume ramen like never before.
INT. TAMPOPO GREENHILLS DINING AREA – DAY
Two ladies are seated across each other on a table in a full dining area abuzz with low chatter.
A harried waiter emerges from the kitchen with a tray on hand. He darts toward the table of the two ladies, lowers the tray, and unloads two steamy bowls: Deluxe Hakodate Ramen (P420) and Tampopo Black Pig Tonkatsu Ramen (P520).
Girl 1, the one with the heavy camera, steals quick shots. The other one remains unmoved.
GIRL 1
(quietly)
Sensei, soup first or noodle first?

GIRL 2
First, observe the whole bowl.

The two girls sit still, with all eyes focused on the bowls.

GIRL 2
(slowly)
Appreciate its gestalt. Savor the aromas.

The two girls inhale deeply.

CLOSE UP: steam wafts to their noses

GIRL 2
Jewels of fat glistening on the surface…

GIRL 1
Check!

GIRL 2
Shinashiku roots shining

GIRL 1
Check!

GIRL 2
Seaweed slowly sinking

GIRL 1
Check!

GIRL 2
Spring onions floating

GIRL 1
Check!

CLOSE UP: ramen surface

GIRL 2
Concentrate on the three pork slices.

They play the key role, but stay modestly hidden.

CLOSE UP: pork slices

Girl 2 picks up her chopsticks. Girl 1 follows suit.

GIRL 2
First, caress the surface with the chopstick tips.

GIRL 1
(surprised)
What for?

GIRL 2
To express affection.

Then poke the pork. Caress it with the chopstick tips.

The two girls rub the pork slices with their chopsticks.

GIRL 2
Gently pick it up and dip it into the soup on the right side of the bowl.

What’s important here is to apologize to the pork by saying,
(pauses for a while)
“see you soon”

FADE TO BLACK.
Well, not really. What happened after was too frenzied to write in screenplay format. Basically, the two girls weren’t able to handle the suspense any longer and decided to slurp the noodles and soup right after. So much for attempting to eat them like a pro!
The Hakodate Ramen were a mouthful but generally soft to chew. Its broth is milky, but not robust. Butter amplifies its milkyness pretty well.
On the other hand, the bright orange Tonkatsu ramen stood out as fiercer and more pronounced. Thin and al dente, the noodles can be a chore to chew after a while. Good thing there’s the tonkatsu fillet to change up the texture.
As for their ala carte tonkatsu, Tampopo’s take is at par with what’s available in the specialty katsu restaurants in the metro. The cheese katsu is slightly more flavorful and more generous than its counterparts.
Cheese Tonkatsu
 
Not too long, the bowls were left empty. If only this were in the movie, Tampopo (the main character in quest for the perfect ramen) would tear up at the sight.
Appetizer: Gyoza
The verdict: Tampopo is a welcome addition to the ramen and katsu market despite the numerous brands that set up shop ahead of it. They were correct when they figured that a restaurant specializing in both ramen and katsu will cater to dining groups who prefer plenty of options and combinations. It's not just one time when I argued with a dining companion whether tonight's a katsu or a ramen night. Katsu night (my vote) usually wins.
But like in the film, we think that it would take Tampopo more time to perfect the consistency of recipes and service. This is especially challenging for a restaurant that specializes in two products. With enough persistence though, it’s not really impossible for them to be the “best of both worlds.” After all, Singapore already considers them so.
Tampopo is located at the Ground Floor, Promenade 3, Greenhills, San Juan City. For reservations you may contact (63 917) 854-7440.

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