Ramen Nagi – Universally Black

Man I’ve been writing about ramen a lot. I’m so hungry. It’s time to write about another great bowl I had earlier this month. It’s Ramen Nagi’s Kuro ramen.  And Kuro is such an appropriate name for this black, black dish. At first I thought it would be some kind of squid ink ramen, because it was so black!

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But it’s really just some garlic style ramen like you get from all the kuro ramens like the ones from Ramen Kuroda or Ikkoryu Fukuoka. However, of all the kuro ramens I have tasted, this is definitely the best.

The sauce was unbelievably thick — and tastes strongly of garlic and soy sauce. In addition there is a huge golfball-sized block of darkness in the middle as you can see above. This is the unholy secret sauce that the rest of the bowl is made of, only in concentrated killer form. If you eat and partake of it, you will fall into the outer depths of Hades and soar through the dark night into the infinite reaches of the cosmos. Yes, it’s that nasty!

I’m not entirely sure what it’s made of, but it’s probably some kind of pork lard mixed with sugar and soy sauce and… something else. I am not so sure what, but it’s good stuff.  Perhaps my only real problem with the bowl was the noodles. They were thin, stringy, and not really nice to chew or fun to eat. Easy to slurp, but not great to eat. Still, the broth more than made up for it.

Overall, the bowl I had at Ramen Nagi was great, great and I would eat again.

Hanamaruken Ramen – Happiness is a Bowl away

Today I tried out the ramen from the new shop that opened in Alabang Town Center. It’s called Hanamaruken, which I understand already opened up north previously, but it’s the first restaurant it opened down here. It’s still on soft launch as of this writing, so a lot of things weren’t available yet, but I got to try their signature Happiness Ramen.

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How to describe it? After the gargantuan bowl was set in front of me — and it is HUGE. Like, the biggest ramen bowl I have ever seen — I could only stare blankly at the huge slab of pork I was now going to devour right after going back to my Paleo-style diet. Well, ramen is a bit of a cheat because of the noodles, but otherwise this bowl works pretty well for a Paleo-type meal (I often eat Yushoken soup without noodles for a Paleo-friendly meal).

So let’s get down to the tasting.  This ramen has some nice al dente style noodles which are of good quality. They don’t sog easily and are quite firm and nice to chew. There’s a lot of green onions garnishing the broth, which is thick and tastes strongly of tonkotsu pork and soy sauce. It’s very close to a regular shoyu.

Sadly, the broth isn’t anywhere as good as Yushoken’s shoyu, and it lacks a lot of complexity and layering in its taste. It is more salty broth with some soy overtones. At least, though, the taste was pretty rich and thick, even if it wasn’t particularly heavenly and complex.

The real star of this “Happiness Ramen” though is the huge slab of pork dunked right into it.  How do I say this? If you’re a huge fan of Lechon Paksiw, this is the ramen for you.  It really tastes like lechon paksiw, so soft and tender and juicy, stuffed into that delicious broth.  And there’s a whole LOT of it… already crowding into an already overflowingly huge bowl.  The fats on the pork melted in my mouth, it was such goodness and the pork was easy to separate with your chopsticks, to be put into small pieces you could eat up in chunks.  The only real downside was that it does take some extra effort to separate the pork into eatable pieces with your chopsticks, and I got some soup on my hands when I screwed up and violently smashed my sticks against the bowl. Overall, though, if you love your pork, you’ll love this bowl.

 

For 480 pesos, this was okay, especially considering the huge slice of pork you got, and what great pork it was.  Still, I would’t eat here over my favorite Yushoken unless I wanted some variety, and my bill at Yushoken is also a 100php cheaper.  For meat lovers though who want a huge serving of pork, this is the ramen to get.

 

Asahikawa Ramen Restaurant: Bangaichi

There’s a new ramen restaurant in Festival Mall Alabang. It’s called Bangaichi!  Now I’ve been into a sort of ramen fit ever since I tried out Yushoken’s Godly Ramen around two years ago.  I’ll be honest — nothing is as good as Yushoken. But I’ve sort of developed a taste for the good ramen… and I blast into smithereens the crappy ramen I’ve had.

I was thus interested in trying out Bangaichi, which follows the Asahikawa Ramen tradition. Apparently in Asahikawa Japan, there’s a street lined with eight ramen shops side by side and it’s become a sort of mecca for ramen in that area. It’s called Asahikawa Ramen Village. And this ramen style used here is basically a tonkotsu broth with different seafoods, and the noodles are a more al-dente style spongy type that really absorbs the broth well.

 

So with that in mind, I tried Bangaichi on two separate occasions to give it a fair shake.  On my first visit I asked what their bestselling dish is; I was advised it was the Miso Ramen and the Shoyu.  So I went ahead and tried the Shoyu, so it would be a good baseline to compare to other Shoyu I have tried at other places.

The Shoyu

Unfortunately, the shoyu was horrible. It was watery, it just looked like water with some Knorr broth cubes melted in. It had some green onions chopped in, and a brownish hue from the soy sauce added in. Some salt was added as well to taste, I suppose, all in all it was a horrible broth. It was a struggle to finish eating it.  It was about the same quality (or lack of quality) as the broth you get from Kenji Tei ramen. It was so bad that I couldn’t finish my bowl.

The noodles though were pretty good. As noted from the Asahikawa style, the noodles got soggy quickly but they absorbed the taste of the broth quite well…. even though the broth didn’t taste good at all. Unfortunately.

I quickly took a swig of my glass, asked for the bill, and left before I started cursing expletives at the chef.

A few days later, though, I thought I’d give them a fair shake and try their “other” bestseller. Just to be fair. So I went back, against my better judgement, for Great Science in order to discover more of the secrets of the universe. And I got…

The Spicy Miso

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Well, it wasn’t the bestseller, but close enough. I like things spicy and the spicy miso looks exactly like the regular miso bestseller, except it has some chili powder or oil added in, giving it the red cast as you see above.  This would also make it more comparable to my Yushoken favorite, which is Tantanmen.

Anyhow, was this one worth it? YES!!~~~

Unlike the watery shoyu that tasted like Knorr soup, the miso had a much more delicate, yet sophisticated flavor that tasted like what I imagine good ramen tastes like. You can taste the miso flavor and the soy flavor along with all the other greenery added in. And the added chili powder gave it a pleasant zing. Not too spicy (for my tastes anyway), but enough warmth for people sensitive to spicy food to give it a pass.

The miso flavor they have I actually prefer to Yushoken’s Miso, which tastes a little too strongly of ginger for my liking. It’s still a far cry from the excellent flavor of my favorite Yushoken dishes (Tantan, Shoyu and Karai Tokubetsu — which is the one that tastes the most like this one) but it’ll do, especially since it’s about 100 pesos cheaper than what you get at Yushoken.

 

Overall, Bangaichi is an okay Ramen restaurant from the two bowls I tried. Not great, but nothing I would really recommend or go back to. It’s nowhere near the quality of Yushoken or Mitsuyado, but it’s okay.  The price range is good — the basic Shio is 280 pesos going up to 360 for the miso.  I also tried their other foods like the hamburger steak and the gyoza, which was just passable and nothing to look forward to.

My recommendation is to give it a try, but not to expect too much.  Just to say you’ve tried it. At this price range, though, I would much rather recommend going to Ramen Kuroda in BF Homes, which is far, far more delicious at this price range.

 

 

The iPad Mini

The iPad Mini is one of this holiday season’s hottest gadgets. Sadly, it hasn’t been officially released in the Philippines yet.

While the dollar price conversion for the most basic version (black, wifi 16gb) is about 14k in pesos, the actual retail price for this in stores around the metro is more like 20k. The popular online retailers like Kim Store are selling it for 19.4k.

However, the cheapest I’ve seen it for right now is definitely at the gadget store in Pop Culture in Alabang Town Center. While I did get into a bit of argument with them and ended up NOT buying one (they screwed me on the pricing), they still offer the cheapest price for the black 16gb wifi model: only 18.5k.

Those of you in the area looking for a deal, this is definitely the one to get. Although they stiffed me, I figure the price they have is good and a little push from me won’t hurt.

Happy iPad hunting people!

The Magic Strikes Again

Unbelievable! Just after picking up the Spyridons as detailed in my last blog post, I headed over to National Bookstore to buy some gift wrap. And as I pass by the

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The Little Prince! 2013

Moleskine section, lo and behold, my eye is caught inadvertently by another item I just happened to have on my wishlist: a Little Prince 2013 Planner!

This is just too good. I should note that I have been looking for this planner for the
past two months, and it simply hasn’t been in stock. Today, of all days, its finally here, and even better there was a 100 peso discount as I swiped it! Just how great is that?

Now while the Magic has certainly been working to get me to part with my money today, to not buy these items as they are presented to me would be a lapse in gratitude. I humbly accept, and gratefully.

The Astonishing Power of Gratitude

Well, I’d read The Secret several years ago and last month I picked up the sequel, The Power for fun and for a nice pick me up. Reading these books always lifts my spirits, so I went ahead yesterday and got the third book of the trilogy, The Magic.

The Magic focuses on giving thanks and gives some good activities to do so, a 28-day program really. I had just finished the first two things to do in the book — making a wish list basically, and then starting Day 1 of the program which is to learn to count your blessings.

Then an amazing thing happened. Just as I finished counting my blessings for the first day, I text message came in from The Athlete’s Foot. It turns out that a shoe I was looking for had just come into stock — the VFF KSO. However, on my “wish list” I had just noted I wanted a Spyridon model instead in green. So I went ahead and asked them if they had the Spyridon in stock instead, and they said yes! It was available, and precisely in my size!

How’s that for fast service from The Universe? I’ll be dropping by The Athlete’s Foot later to pick up what the Universe served up to me on a shiny platter. It’s amazing what gratitude can do. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

vff-spyridon

Monster Turbines vs. Ultimate Ears Metro.Fi 170

You know, I have had the Metro Fi 170′s and the Monster Turbines for a few months now. You know what I have concluded so far?

The Metro Fi’s, at a third of the price, actually sound better than the Turbines. I really thought I would love the Turbines more but it is a very confusing earphone. The sound is very rich but the sound stage is smaller than the 170′s, and the clarity is not quite as good. The driver is also not as fast, and the treble is and bass detail is kind of drowned out in comparison. What it has instead is, I dunno… “body.” The sound is very colored, though not in a particularly bad way. It sounds great actually and the sound doesn’t hurt the ear after long listens, and lends well in certain genres like R&B, House, Chillout, Latin, and many types of Jazz. In other genres that I prefer to sound clean like Hard Rock or Acoustic it gives a certain “echo” to the sound which is not unwelcome.

But despite that I find that the clean but not thin sound of the Metro Fi’s on the whole sound better. The Turbines give a nice listening experience for House and similar types of genres but the 170s are great in every genre I’ve listened to them with and hold their own against the Turbines even in genres you’d think a bass heavy monster like the Turbines would own.

And actually speaking of bass, the 170′s have as much bass as the Turbines, only cleaner. Crazy. I don’t know, I’m very confused over the Turbines, I don’t know what to say. Common sense tells me it’s 3x the price and 3x better but in actuality I find the Metro Fi’s — and I’m talking the low end UE model here — are actually better overall.

The Anti Logitech

Logitech is a horrible company. They somehow succeeded by building a brand that is perceived as the Porsche of keyboards and mice, but the shoddy worksmanship of their peripherals betrays their true form.

I have an MX3200 desktop set and the keys feel so spongy, it’s like there was a mound of dirt beneath them that you squish every time you type, and it sticks so they pop back a little slowly. The effort needed to press the buttons is above what other keyboards require.

Their mice, all of which have been following the MX700/MX300 form factor for ages now, may be good for people with big hands who like to palm their mice, but for gaming using your fingers for precision is often the better method, but all these palm mice they churn out just don’t make the cut compared to an el-cheapo A4-Tech mouse that handles flawlessly at a third or sometimes even a fourth of the price. Let’s not even get into how often their batteries crap out for all their cordless mice, and I’ve owned quite a few of them.

Logitech is highly disappointing, I’ve been burned too many times buying their shoddy products. You could say I’m the fool for going back to them time and again, fooled by the brand name, but sometimes I just gotta learn.

Bruce Lee Bullshido

I made this post on the Sherdog forums on a discussion about Bruce Lee:

So what? Are you saying that because Bruce Lee “inspired” more people to do martial arts, he can rightfully be called the Grandfather of MMA?

The sad things is, the evidence points to Bruce Lee inspiring people with his MOVIES and not his actual martial arts or rantings about martial arts.

Did anyone actually listen to his JKD musings? Apparently not, because when UFC 1 came along seems everyone was doing single style fighting and nobody was cross training.

In effect, he netted the same influence with his JKD philosophy as Dempsey did with his Tough Crosstraining Manual: NADA.

Everyone still thought that martial arts was about standup fighting with fancy kicks and going “Wataa!” Thanks no doubt to Bruce Lee’s movies that glorified this kind of fighting. And this is pretty much what everybody who got into martial arts because of Bruce Lee was thinking. I read the article on the frontpage a few days ago about Vera’s wife. She described herself as a “Bruce Lee-crazed tomboy begging her parents to enroll her into taekwondo” (or something to that effect.

How many people got inspired by Bruce Lee and enrolled into Brazilian Jiujitsu or Greco Roman Wrestling or Sambo? Probably none. They all went to the arts we like to sneer at with disdain as McDojo arts (Karate, Taekwondo, and various forms of Kungfu).

One dimensional as they were, the Gracies are the ones who opened up the gates to what MMA is like today, by proving in the actual spectacle of combat that standup would get demolished by grappling. That is what ultimately led to people crosstraining en masse to succeed in MMA.

It was putting together the different styles in ACTUAL COMBAT that people were able to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needed to be thrown away and to find out what to keep. Not all the theorizing and bullshido Bruce Lee did that never proved anything — again everyone still went back to TMAs and standup in the wake of Bruce Lee’s heyday. It wasn’t Bruce Lee’s JKD who got Mo Smith learning the ground game in order to take out Coleman and eventually become UFC HW Champ, it was actually fighting in real combat, with real stakes, that got him to realize the importance of being a true Mixed Martial Artist.

Bruce Lee is old news. He gets credit for increasing the public awareness and interest in martial arts in a way nobody else ever managed, but his actual success — or lack thereof — in actual practical martial arts will never go away no matter how much the diehard Bruce Nuthuggers wish for it. Theoretics only goes so far, you can’t swim unless you get into the water and get wet. You can’t really do martial arts unless you actually fight.

This is something I had always believed in. Bruce Lee is the Grandfather of the Martial Arts Movie, and perhaps the Grandfather of Bullshido, but it would be a stretch to really call him the Grandfather of MMA.

He had the right idea going — getting out of the style and learning what works — but his lack of actual practical combat experience and more importantly his emphasis on his Kung Fu Movies and his McDojo approach were what ultimately led to people doing nothing but using their interest in him to get into the McDojo TMAs that are scorned by real mixed martial artists and even regular martial artists.

We all know the wonderful site Bullshido.com and it is quite arguable that Bruce Lee is the man most responsible for the rise of McDojo Martial Arts as we know it today, which we all love to call Bullshido. Bruce Lee was famous for going around America doing martial arts demonstrations like his one inch punch, and getting people to believe in his style of fighting, not unlike the various demonstrations Bullshido McDojos use to gather students.

Maybe if Bruce Lee put his money where his mouth was, he’d have a real airtight legacy. Joe Lewis, a world karate champion, always lamented that Bruce Lee never sparred with him and often talked about how Bruce wasn’t the best ever because he never really competed. I have to wholeheartedly agree.

As it is, while there will always be people who will consider him the best martial artist the world has ever known, there will also be a lot of us who see him as nothing more than a glorified movie actor.

Bruce Lee Bullshido

I made this post on the Sherdog forums on a discussion about Bruce Lee:

[b]So what? Are you saying that because Bruce Lee “inspired” more people to do martial arts, he can rightfully be called the Grandfather of MMA?

The sad things is, the evidence points to Bruce Lee inspiring people with his MOVIES and not his actual martial arts or rantings about martial arts.

Did anyone actually listen to his JKD musings? Apparently not, because when UFC 1 came along seems everyone was doing single style fighting and nobody was cross training.

In effect, he netted the same influence with his JKD philosophy as Dempsey did with his Tough Crosstraining Manual: NADA.

Everyone still thought that martial arts was about standup fighting with fancy kicks and going “Wataa!” Thanks no doubt to Bruce Lee’s movies that glorified this kind of fighting. And this is pretty much what everybody who got into martial arts because of Bruce Lee was thinking. I read the article on the frontpage a few days ago about Vera’s wife. She described herself as a “Bruce Lee-crazed tomboy begging her parents to enroll her into taekwondo” (or something to that effect.

How many people got inspired by Bruce Lee and enrolled into Brazilian Jiujitsu or Greco Roman Wrestling or Sambo? Probably none. They all went to the arts we like to sneer at with disdain as McDojo arts (Karate, Taekwondo, and various forms of Kungfu).

One dimensional as they were, the Gracies are the ones who opened up the gates to what MMA is like today, by proving in the actual spectacle of combat that standup would get demolished by grappling. That is what ultimately led to people crosstraining en masse to succeed in MMA.

It was putting together the different styles in ACTUAL COMBAT that people were able to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needed to be thrown away and to find out what to keep. Not all the theorizing and bullshido Bruce Lee did that never proved anything — again everyone still went back to TMAs and standup in the wake of Bruce Lee’s heyday. It wasn’t Bruce Lee’s JKD who got Mo Smith learning the ground game in order to take out Coleman and eventually become UFC HW Champ, it was actually fighting in real combat, with real stakes, that got him to realize the importance of being a true Mixed Martial Artist.

Bruce Lee is old news. He gets credit for increasing the public awareness and interest in martial arts in a way nobody else ever managed, but his actual success — or lack thereof — in actual practical martial arts will never go away no matter how much the diehard Bruce Nuthuggers wish for it. Theoretics only goes so far, you can’t swim unless you get into the water and get wet. You can’t really do martial arts unless you actually fight.[/b]

This is something I had always believed in. Bruce Lee is the Grandfater of the Martial Arts Movie, and perhaps the Grandfather of Bullshido, but it would be a stretch to really call him the Grandfather of MMA.

He had the right idea going — getting out of the style and learning what works — but his lack of actual practical combat experience and more importantly his emphasis on his Kung Fu Movies and his McDojo approach were what ultimately led to people doing nothing but using their interest in him to get into the McDojo TMAs that are scorned by real mixed martial artists and even regular martial artists.

We all know the wonderful site Bullshido.com and it is clear to me that Bruce Lee is the man most responsible for the rise of McDojo Martial Arts as we know it today, which we all love to call Bullshido.

Maybe if Bruce Lee put his money where his mouth was, he’d have a real airtight legacy. But as it is, while there will always be people who will consider him the best martial artist the world has ever known, there will also be a lot of us who see him as nothing more than a glorified movie actor.