The best way of experiencing something authentic is to actually travel to a place where that thing originated; you can’t get more genuine than that. But in the real world, that is quite difficult and impractical. For example, Sweetie and I have always wanted to go to Japan, and one of our planned must-do activities (just like in all our trips and adventures) is to try out local cuisine. However, for the moment, the lack of money and time is hampering us from fulfilling that dream.
Fortunately, the opening of Ramen Sora and its companion Yakitori Binchotan in Cebu last March 25, 2015 allowed us to have a taste of Japanese cuisine without having to buy an airline ticket to Hokkaido, Japan. They are two unique restaurants that not only specialize in delicious Japanese cuisine but also allow you to have an authentic traditional Japanese dining experience.
The heart and soul of any restaurant is its menu, but the brain that does it all is its pool of talented chefs. Chefs Yoshi Ishise (right) and Tomio Hakada (left) are the brains behind Ramen Sora. They have painstakingly studied, experimented, assessed, and created the delightful gastronomic treasures offered by the restaurant.
After a simple ceremony and blessing, VIPs, socialites, and the company’s bigwigs cut the ceremonial ribbon. Ramen Sora is now open!
Ramen Sora has its roots in Sapporo, Hokkaido in Japan. People who want to indulge in the best of Japanese traditional food always head off to Sapporo.
Clean and simple, Ramen Sora’s dining area faithfully follows classical Japanese interior design, which is characterized by minimalism.
Attractive Japanese lanterns, which were brought straight from Japan, light up the place with a calm, warm glow.
Busy chefs, sous chefs, and attendants made sure that all guests were taken care of. We’re pretty sure they exhibit the same level of vitality and eagerness on normal days. Indeed, the kitchen area was very, very lively, and you can see how they prepare your ramen.
People can sit on any of the tables in the dining area. But for the truly no-nonsense and serious ramen eaters (and if you want an authentic ramen experience), they sit on a small narrow counter in front of the kitchen.
You order a ramen, and wait for the cook to whip up and serve you a bowl. Then with serious concentration and audible gusto, slurp up that steaming gastronomic delight in front of you (yes, slurping up your ramen noodles is actually a complimentary gesture in Japan).
After a few minutes of patient waiting, our ramen was served. Look at that mouthwatering delight! All ingredients used in their ramen are imported straight from Japan so diners will have an authentic taste of real Japanese ramen.
If we, as Filipinos, could not live without rice, then the Japanese can’t live without ramen. In fact, they have a saying “No ramen, no life!” To bring out the full flavor of the ramen, the noodles are aged for four days before they are served.
The soup is made of miso sauce with black pork bones that are boiled for nearly a day. Even the water for the soup is treated so that it will have the same composition as the water in Japan. Chef Ishese explains that differences in the water’s mineral composition affect the taste of the ramen.
The meat, called Pork Chashu, is simmered in soup for hours, which makes each slice so tender that it melts in your mouth.
As you can see, they take no shortcuts and prepare ramen in an ancient, traditional method.
We were presented three varieties of ramen, all of them equally delicious. The one on the right is so spicy it made us sweat in the air-conditioned room! And check out that bowl on the left; can you see the black paper-like thing? That is nori, a kind of seaweed that is normally used in wrapping sushi.
You can order three types of soup bases: the traditional miso-based house specialty, the healthy soy-based variety, and the tantalizingly delicious salt-based broth.
A bowl of ramen is a complete meal packed with carbohydrates, minerals, and other nutrients.
We were also served an Otsumami Platter, a dish without the ramen and the soup. Of course, these ingredients are included in a regular serving of ramen.
The green stuff is negi (Japanese spring onions), and the stripy stuff is menina (Japanese mushroom). A “side dish” of tamago (egg boiled in soy sauce) is added as a final touch.
Just so you would know more details about the perfection you are eating, Ramen Sora included an “anatomy” of their specialty dish in their menu board.
Filipinos love chicken, so the chefs included very tender and crispy Chicken Karaage in their menu.
If the ramen and meat dishes are too heavy for you, you can chew on these moyashi (bean sprouts) to wash down the meal.
Ramen may seem to be a simple dish, but there are actually a lot of combinations and variety at Ramen Sora. The price is quite affordable too considering that each bowl is a meal in itself and the ingredients are all imported from Japan.
Having our fill with ramen, we went upstairs to its partner restaurant Yakitori Binchotan. In keeping up with the tradition, the kitchen is placed right in the center of the establishment where guests can see (and smell) yakitori as they are being prepared.
Guests can eat at the narrow counter that surrounds the kitchen. All they need to do is to call out to the cook and order what they want.
Since Yakitori Binchotan is Ramen Sora’s partner, guests can cross-order. For example, you can order a bowl of ramen downstairs at Ramen Sora, and bring it upstairs in Yakitori where you can eat it with your friends.
Chef Nori Suzuki is the brain behind Yakitori Binchotan. His recipes are actually family recipes that are passed on by his grandfather.
Yakitori is skewered meat, which is either chicken, pork, or beef. Ordinary? Think again! This restaurant’s yakitori is extraordinary. The meat is so tender and full of flavor. Chunks of meat are marinated and basted with a secret special sauce that has been handed down to Chef Suzuki by his grandfather.
The yakitori is then grilled on top of binchotan, a special kind of charcoal that is only found in Japan. The charcoal packs a lot of heat but does not emit smoke. Thus, the meat retains its full flavor, aroma, and juiciness.
We forgot the name of this type of yakitori, but it sure is amazing! If we remember correctly, it is made of perfectly ground beef and drizzled with a special sauce.
Of course, no Japanese dining experience is complete without the ubiquitous sushi. We’re not sure whether Yakitori Binchotan serves other types of sushi, but they do serve these mouth-watering makizushi (rolled sushi). Order one, and the chef will make it right in front of you.
Team Sweetie and a few other Cebu bloggers were very lucky to have interviewed Mr. Gerry Apolinario, CEO of Gerry’s Grill. He shared stories on the history of Gerry’s Grill, his partnership with Ramen Sora and Yakitori Binchotan, his business model, the way his company prepares food, and more. He also shared many interesting insights about his personal life and ambition.
Mr. Apolinario is truly a trendsetter, but he keeps himself down-to-earth and simple. He’s a great entrepreneur and gentleman, and we were definitely privileged to have met him.
To enjoy the best-tasting ramen and yakitori in town, visit Ramen Sora and Yakitori Binchotan.
Thank you very much, Gerry’s Grill CEO Mr. Gerry Apolinario; Chefs Chefs Yoshi Ishise, Tomio Hokkada, Nori Suzuki; Assistant Marketing Manager Chikki Fontanilla; Branch Manager Andi R. Requintina, and the rest of the Ramen Sora and Yakitori Binchotan for the incredible dinner.
1. Ramen Sora and Yakitori Binchotan are located at Lightsite Parc, AS Fortuna, Mandaue City, Cebu. Use the contact details below to get in touch with them and to make reservations:
- Landline and Fax Number: (32) 520-3331
- Facebook Page: Ramen Sora
The restaurant is open from Monday to Sunday, 11 AM to 12 midnight.
2. For more information, you may also check the Ramen Sora website.