Agara Ramen: Fills the Tummy, Warms the Soul

If there is one thing I have been wishing to grow in number here in Baguio, that is for more ramen houses to open. Why? Well, hello! With Baguio’s perfect cold weather, having a bowl of hot ramen is what we need! Don’t you agree?

I am a self-confessed ramen person. I am fastidious with my ramen choices. I get easily disappointed if I learn that the ramen served looks and tastes like an instant noodle. My love for ramen is rooted in the fact that it is a culinary art – from the richness of its flavors, its aesthetics and the seemingly delicate techniques used on how they are prepared. A bowl of ramen holds a distinctive place in my tummy. When I slurp its soup and noodles, I feel the warmth filling my stomach, radiating happiness to my soul.I have always thought that Baguio’s weather is perfect for cafes and ramen bars/ restos. Unfortunately, we only have a few that serves really good ramen. I was delighted when Ramen Nagi opened but in the long run, one will feel burdened by the pricey cost of their ramen despite serving really good food. There are other Japanese restos here BUT the ramen they offer doesn’t come across authentic – taste most importantly.

So when I have heard of a new ramen bar (yes, it is a bar and not the usual resto) opening in my lovely city, Baguio, I got excited to try what they have to offer, hence I literally stormed my way one cold, foggy night. The place is called Agara Ramen, a 14-seater, industrial accented bar with a striking brick mural and tiled wall. Some people may have an impression that the place is a tad small in space but I think that is exactly what the owners have envisioned it to be (just like what most Japanese ramen bars are – small, intimate space for people eating ramen together).The menu of Agara Ramen is very straightforward. They offer 6 ramen styles. This includes the following:

  • Chuka Soba (a pork, chicken, fish, and vegetable broth noodles)
  • Tsukemen (a dipping ramen made with livestock, vegetable broth with soy sauce)

***These two are Agara Ramen’s menu flagship.

  • Tonkotsu Shio (sea salt base and pork broth) – if you like something light then this is for you.
  • Tonkotsu Shoyu (soy sauce and pork broth) – This I personally like.
  • Miso Ramen (strong pork miso soup) – My favorite. Because it is miso. I love anything miso.
  • Tantanmen (spicy pork broth soup in sesame seed paste) – Not my cup of tea, just because it is spicy.

Just like other ramen restaurants, you can also add tamago (Japanese soy sauce egg), chashu (braised pork belly), and/ or nori (seaweed). They also serve gyoza (dumplings) and karaage (fried chicken skin). All of these can be perfectly matched with a glass of Japanese barley tea (mugicha) or maybe a can of soda.My Agara Ramen experience was made more special because I got the chance to see how some of these ramen are prepared (and even eaten). The owner, Sir Ray Costa, gamely showed how it’s prepared. Please allow the photographs I took to further do the talking.As the weather here in Baguio becomes colder (and stormy), having a bowl (or two) of ramen is good way to quickly warm us up. I may just switch between ramen and some local noodles my brother makes (Ilocos miki). So if you are up for something “ramen-tic” belly-filling, and smile-inducing — a bowl of ramen goodness at Agara Ramen is what you probably need.

Agara Ramen is located at the Ground Floor of Rancho Guillermo Bldg. (beside Maybank), North Drive (where NBI’s entrance gate is), Engineers Hill, Baguio City. They are on their soft opening (grand opening will be on the 8th of September 2019). They are open from 11AM to 12MN (Monday to Thursday); and 11AM to 02AM (Friday to Sunday). You can also check out their social media accounts: fb.com/AgaraRamen (FB page), @AgaraRamen (both in Instagram and Twitter).So what are you waiting for? Fill your tummy, satiate your buds’ taste – “eats” a wonderful world after all. Take “eat” easy!

Baguio Holes-in-the-Wall (Benguet, PH)

“The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.” -Mark Twain

Holes-in-the-Wall: these are out-of-the-way, small places like cafe, bar or restaurants that are not considered to be fancy,expensive or unpretentious… Places to eat where they impart a more homey vibe.

You see, I love eating, and I want to enjoy eating all through my lifetime. Despite my lean frame, I actually eat almost everything (well except those with fresh vinegar). I believe that the next best thing to eating food, is talking about it. And that exactly is what this write-up is for. This blog will be constantly updated whenever I get to visit a hole-in-the-wall gastronomic hub in the City of Pines.

BEANS and MUGS

Address: 2nd floor of Filipino – Chinese General Hospital’s drugstore, M. Roxas (Trancoville), Baguio City, Benguet.

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This tiny cafe that offers some of the better freakshakes I have tasted, is hardly noticeable. I think my room is even bigger than its space. Nonetheless, I like its simplicity. Found at the 2nd floor of a drugstore and is in very close proximity to a hospital along Trancoville, Beans and Mugs have so far delighted my sweet tooth for its Matcha Freakshake and Strawberry Freakshake.

YAMASHITA JAPANESE NOODLE HOUSE

Address:Beside the famous 50s Diner, Leonard Wood Rd, Baguio, Benguet

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I am a self-confessed ramen lover. And for the longest time, Baguio didn’t have a single ramen house. And so when I have heard of Yamashita, I was more than delighted. It is just a small restaurant with chairs and a single long table in front of the cooking area. Nonetheless, the wakame ramen I have tried is satiating enough for my palate. Moreover, I think the price is reasonable!

GLYCO SWEETSHOP

Address: 72 DPS Compound Access Road, Baguio, 2600 Benguet

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One of my all-time favorite desserts shop in Baguio. Glyco Sweetshop’s cupcakes are some of the best. I particularly love their green tea cuppies. The Portuguese egg-tart is also something every visitor should taste because of the delightful balance of sweetness and the right crust texture. Despite the bakeshops name (glyco which means “sweet”), the desserts they offer aren’t very sweet which to me is a good thing.

GAME and GRUB BOARDGAME CAFE

Address: 2/F 111 Jungletown Rd, Baguio, Benguet

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I love their specialty drinks (shout out to Mango G’s!). They charge customers Php50 to rent boardgames. So while waiting for your order, might as well explore all the board games you could play (although my friends and I opted to play cards without bet!) Food prices in general isn’t that bad.

TRAVEL SIPS COFFE

Address: #11 Marcos Highway, Baguio City

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A coffee shop that is an ideal stopover, near 2 hospitals in Baguio. It is conveniently located along the main highway. They serve both hot and cold drinks (and some desserts too). Just like most cafe’s in this write u, it is small with few seating options. Nonetheless, it has a pretty cozy ambiance for you and your friends to chit chat for a few hours.

CHEF’s HOME

Address: 13 Outlook Drive (corner Romulo Drive), Baguio City (near The Mansion)

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This food abode owned by a Malaysian chef (Chef Alvin Emuang) has established itself as one of the best places to eat in Baguio City. Offering an array of authentic Asian cuisine, the very modest restaurant (that looks more of a carinderia) is heaven for good, good, good food. Looking into their menu, a typical Filipino could obviously say that most of the foods aren’t the usual ones we eat everyday. To most, the, the taste could be very strong – spicy, sour, sweet. But for a person who likes trying out almost everything, I say EAT and ENJOY! I personally love their ROTI! So yummy!

Don’t be a wasted soul, be ‘juan’derlust. Take it easy ebri’juan’…