You know how on some days, you crave for a hot, fresh and juicy Chickenjoy thigh because you miss it? But then on some days, while the craving is strong, the taste and texture is still pretty much embedded in your head and you decide to go for a Pancit Palabok instead in spite of it having to take 15 minutes to prepare?
The point is, I say Jollibee’s masterpiece (only if it’s the thigh or leg) is one of the top fried chicken in the world. But even so, the fast-food joint has perfected its recipe and system so much, sometimes, you crave for a little, pleasant surprise.
It’s sometimes how I feel about Ramen Yushoken. My respect for the brand has been documented in a previous column, and I still believe it is one of, if not, the top ramen place in the Philippines. But there’s just something about its bowls of ramen that feel a little bit formulaic, no matter how top-tier I believe them to be.
Enter Hamakaze Ramen.
Is it the best? Arguably on some days and depends which bowls you fancy. It’s hard to put it in second place though, as it holds its own pretty well against a big name brand like Yushoken.
Let’s quickly talk about three things that make Hamakaze the sneaky, first-place alternative that it is:
Flavor. Hamakaze uses chicken collagen as its base broth so you can already imagine that it is of the lighter variety as compared to pork bone. The noodles are a bit light, too. So if one is feeling guilty about high blood pressure on a Friday night, there’s less guilt to be slurped here (but arguably more or less the same amount of calories as with any bowl of quality ramen).
Price. Hamakaze’s menu items are priced a bit lower than Yushoken Ramen, the Best of Cebu 2022 winner. So if you’re a true-blue Cebuano, this alone is worth considering when you’re choosing where to dine next time.
Queue. While Yushoken is packed nine out of 10 times, you can be seated immediately in Hamakaze 8.5 out of 10. But seriously, the cozy restaurant located a few blocks from Oakridge Business Park—more specifically at the AYS Building, AS Fortuna St., Mandaue City—usually doesn’t have a queue nor a waiting list. Parking may be challenging, though.
I have a few favorites at Hamakaze which include its Tsukemen ramen (cold noodles accompanied with a dipping broth on the sides) and Zaru ramen (cold noodles accompanied with a sweet soy-based dip). The gyoza is stellar and the chicken karaage is huge.
Hamakaze retains some of that old-school quaintness and homey vibes with its place and offerings. When it hits, you get a smashing home run. When it misses, it only grazes you a bit but not enough to hurt your feelings (and pocket).
So there’s 1A and 1B—or do you beg to disagree? Shoot me an email or write a comment on our social media posts. On that note, second place seems wide-open!