Kokoro Ramenya in Roxas Boulevard, Manila

It's raining very hard as I type this and times like this I love to snuggle in bed while catching up on my favorite TV series or with a good book. This is bed weather after all and how I wish I can stay in under the sheets all day long. The rainy cool weather also makes me want a bowl of piping hot ramen.

I was then reminded of a dinner that I had with Paul, my sister Pan and her best friend C at a newly opened restaurant called Kokoro Ramenya. It was upon an invite from a friend to try the restaurant out and we were all so excited as Japanese remains to be one of our favorite cuisines.

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Kokoro Ramenya is located in the newly constructed Avenue of the Arts Building along Roxas Boulevard. It offers traditional Japanese dishes such as ramen, donburi, tempura, sushi and sashimi and a lot more. I liked the bright and casual interiors making the restaurant look even bigger than it already is.

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We started our meal with a plate of Gyoza (Php. 155). The wrapper had a good texture and thickness however we were all so surprised that the inside was filled with gyoza soup quite similar to that of a xiao long bao. I'm not sure if this is really how an authentic gyoza should be. Nonetheless, we all enjoyed it and got two orders of this.

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Of course, a trip to a Japanese restaurant is not complete without ordering our favorite hand-rolled makis. We tried the California Maki (Php. 185) which came in 8 bite-size pieces per order. It was good and I appreciate the fact that it was generously filled with kani strips, mango slices and topped with a dot of Japanese mayo.

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However, I enjoyed the Huto Maki (Php. 225) more. I'm not really sure why they call it Huto Maki as we are used to calling it Futo Maki instead. Nonetheless, this one gives you four HUGE pieces which tasted quite good too! I would have wanted more had we not ordered a lot of entrees and ramen that evening. I'd love to bring Kongkong here to try their Huto Maki as he loves ordering this any chance he gets.

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We couldn't get enough of their hand-rolled makis after enjoying the first two so we also tried the Tempura Maki (Php. 195) as this was recommended by the server. It was pretty good as the entire maki wraps around a piece of ebi tempura and deep fried making it crunchy outside with their special creamy sauce giving it a slightly sweet taste.

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We tried the Spicy Tuna Sashimi (Php. 255) which sadly failed our expectations. It was served warm and it was just too spicy for us to appreciate the freshness of the tuna. This one definitely needs more improvement in my opinion.

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For our ramen, we ordered two bowls of Hakata Classic (Php. 325) to be shared among the four of us. Note that the serving is quite big so sharing is highly recommended. Our ramen had a very creamy and rich broth which was really yummy. I loved the inclusion of Japanese egg and the slices of pork was quite generous. The noodles were firm and had a good bite to it too. I will definitely order this again next time.

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We noticed that a number of tables around us ordered the Beef Teppanyaki (Php. 445) so despite feeling quite full already, we ordered a plate to give it a try ourselves. The meat was very tender and would go very well with a bowl of Japanese Steamed Rice! Yum!

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For dessert, we tried the Green Tea Ice Cream (Php. 85) which came in a bowl of crushed ice. I wasn't really sure at first whether the ice was just there to keep the scoop of ice cream hard or it should be mixed all together. The server sensing our confusion came to the rescue and told us to mix it all together similar to any crushed ice dessert. I love the green tea ice cream and I enjoyed the strong taste of the matcha however when mixed with the crushed ice, it made it taste too watered down that I ended up scooping up the ice cream and leaving the ice on the bowl. I guess it really depends on how strong you want your green tea ice cream to be.

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Paul, my sister and friend C all enjoyed the Black Sesame Ice Cream (Php. 85) which was a scoop of vanilla ice cream with black sesame syrup drizzled over it. It was good and I think would be better with some chopped peanuts on top too.
Over-all, we enjoyed our meal at Kokoro Ramenya, it may be a tad more expensive compared to other Japanese casual dining places but I would definitely go back for their ramen, hand-rolled makis and ice cream.

*photo credit: Paul Ang

Check out Kokoro Ramenya at the 2nd floor, Avenue of the Arts Building, 1388 Roxas Boulevard corner Sta. Monica & LM Guerrero streets, Ermita, Manila. Call them at 254-9716 / 254-9438. It's in the same building as Army Navy and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

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