Try “Soupless Ramen” at This New Japanese Place in Uptown Bonifacio (

(This feature was published in last July 9, 2019)

Although both noodles are from Japan, soba is very different from ramen. While both ramen and soba noodles are thinner than udon noodles (which are an entirely different class), ramen is made from wheat and is generally sturdier, while soba gets its distinctive light-brown color from buckwheat flour and is softer than ramen.

Ramen is pretty much everywhere now in Manila but soba is harder to find—and Menya Kokoro introduces soba that is served in a way that’s far from the usual. Soba can be served stir-fried, in a light hot broth, or chilled with a side of dipping broth, but in this Japanese chain, they offer something else: the mazesoba, or soba noodles combined with the typical rich flavors of ramen—minus the broth.

This is the culinary creation of Chef Takuma Ishikawa, who opened his first shop in Tokyo back in 2013. The young chef invented his own kokoro or minced meat recipe, which is used in most of his noodle bowls. “Our secret is the kokoro that is carefully cooked for long hours,” tells the chef-owner. He shares that there are a lot of spices and sauces involved, and they import a lot of these ingredients from Japan, including the nori and fish powder. According to him, diners will get “the same menu items and exactly the same flavors.” It would just be like you’re eating at any of their 18 outposts in Japan. The international mazesoba chain also has outlets in Bangkok, Jakarta, Vancouver, Singapore, and Manila.

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