by AC Climaco and Mia Aguila (The Foodie Station Correspondents)
Filipinos love food may be an understatement. Our inherent love for food is manifested through hundreds of delicacies across the Philippine islands. Despite the quality and availability of regional dishes and export-grade food products in the country, we still find ourselves curious about cuisines from around the world. Having been colonized by influential countries in the past, we have learned to easily adapt to other countries’ customs and cultures. In cooking for example, we can copy foreign dishes and even change them to suite our taste. A common example is pizza. We have seen a number of Filipino-themed restaurants that serve pizza with Pinakbet or Sisig as toppings instead of the usual pepperoni and cheese. Surprisingly, even some foreign-owned restaurants have changed some items on their menus to cater to the exacting tastes of Filipinos.
Tsuta originated from Sugamo, Tokyo, Japan and have received numerous awards from journals for ramen lovers. In 2015, they have also received One Michelin Star before any other ramen restaurant in the world. Chef Yuki Onishi, owner and chef of Tsuta, doesn’t believe in shortcuts, so customers are assured that the taste of each ramen is from the unique dashi (soup broth), oils and sauces that come together to create the multi-layered umami flavor. He has always been keen in learning foreign cultures and creating new flavors with strict adherance to natural ingredients. No MSG nor artificial flavoring is added to his dishes.
After months of research, experimentation, and tasting, Chef Yuki has come up with his Philippine Original series. The Sang La Tan Tan Soba is a blend of the restaurant’s signature dashi, Shoyu Tare (soy beans matured for 2 years from the Wakayama Prefecture) and locally sourced ingredients such as peanut paste (grinded in store), chili, and white cane vinegar. It’s garnished with sauteed minced crispy pork and leeks. It’s Chef Yuki’s take on our beloved Sinigang, Kare Kare and Sisig.
Weird as it may seem, this dish is a marriage of Filipino flavors; sour, spicy with a hint of sweetness and traditional Japanese tantanmen. It’s like a bowl of Filipino umami, where each spoonful is heavier and more intense. Insider tip: If you like the noodles to have more flavor, let the ramen rest for a bit so it will have time to absorb the flavorful soup.
You can also add Tamago. It helped cut the richness for me.
Chef Yuki’s Philippine Original series is available for the whole month of April. You might want to try the dish as soon as you can because only 50 bowls will be served a day.