At Menya Kokoro, The Ramen Has No Broth—And Trust Us, You Won’t Miss It
There is absolutely no shortage of options when you decide you want to eat ramen. You have the authentic bowl for the purists. You have ramen with Filipino flavors like Bicol Express. You also have tsukkemen where the noodles are served in a separate bowl and you dip them in a more concentrated broth. Now you have another option: Menya Kokoro that serves a bowl of dry ramen (or ramen without broth) called mazesoba.
Chef Takuma Ishikawa founded Menya Kokoro in 2013 in Tokyo, leading him to win a best mazesoba award the following year. This was followed by a quick expansion to other countries like Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, and Thailand.
Chef Takuma Ishikawa
Brotzeit owner Malvin Ang and Franchise Director of Menya Kokoro, Koga Akihiko are responsible for bringing Menya Kokoro to the Philippines, with its first branch just opened in Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global City. According to Akihiko, Menya Kokoro is generally considered to offer the best mazesoba in Japan.
Menya Kokoro’s first Philippine branch in Uptown Place Mall
Mazesoba comes from the words maze, which means “to mix” in Japanese, and soba, the Japanese word for noodle. The noodles in the bowl hide under as many as 11 ingredients such as poached egg, green onions, nori, minced pork, shiitake mushrooms, ground saba fish, to name a few. Just as its name suggests, to fully enjoy the bowl, you must mix all of the ingredients together first.
Mixing the Tokyo Mazesoba
Chef Ishikawa uses a multi-grain noodle much thicker than the noodles in a bowl of ramen, and closer to the thickness of an udon noodle. This thickness gives the noodle more chewiness and allows the sauce to coat it more evenly.
The multi-grain noodles are almost like udon in thickness
Mazesoba is such an umami filled bowl that Chef Ishikawa suggests you add a dash of kombu vinegar found on the table to freshen your palate in between bites. The mazesoba also comes with dashi soup on the side for you to enjoy in between slurps of noodles. A small bowl of much welcome rice is presented to you after finishing your noodles, in order to mop up the remaining sauce.
The two most popular bowls on the menu, Cheese Mazesoba and Tokyo Mazesoba, served with dashi soup
Menya Kokoro’s menu is small and currently mainly serves their various mazesoba bowls such as the original Tokyo Mazesoba (a good bowl to try for first timers), Cheese Mazesoba (with stretchy cheese in between the noodles and on top of the egg), Zenbu Mazesoba (all the ingredients top this bowl), Curry Mazesoba (a bowl with a rich curry), and Vegan Mazesoba (using a soy based ground “meat” as a topping).
Zenbu Mazesobu with all the toppings
There are appetizers you can order while waiting for your bowl such as Gyoza, Takoyaki, and Edamame
Koga Akihiko elaborates why Kokoro is an apt name for the restaurant Chef Ishikawa started, “Kokoro doesn’t only mean ‘heart.’ It means heart, mind, and soul. Takuma prepares all the dishes with kokoro. He works hard.”
Menya Kokoro, 3/F, Uptown Place Mall, 36th Street corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
Photos by Jar Concengco