Japanese food

Shinjuku’s Tongara Ramen returns to Metro Manila, now open at Estancia Mall

Steph Arnaldo

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Shinjuku’s Tongara Ramen returns to Metro Manila, now open at Estancia Mall

TONGARA RAMEN. The ramen joint from Shinkuju, Tokyo, opens its flagship branch at Estancia Mall.

Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Now steaming in Pasig City! The ramen joint founded by Chef Makoto Okazaki in Tokyo is known for its 'tongara' ramen – a mix of tonkotsu and torigara broths.

MANILA, Philippines – Seeking comfort in the rain? A steaming bowl of ramen from Tokyo’s bustling streets may be the best rainy-day remedy, especially if you’re strolling around Estancia Mall in Pasig City.

NOW OPEN. Tongara Ramen officially opens at Estancia Mall. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Shinjuku’s beloved Tongara Ramen – the culinary brainchild of Japanese ramen master Chef Makoto Okazaki – is back in Metro Manila with a new flagship branch at the third level of Estancia’s East Wing.

The ramen joint, which started in Shinjuku, Tokyo, in 2013, opened its first branch outside Japan in Cebu in 2015, followed by Tacloban, and then in Marikina in 2018. The latter branch closed in 2023, but its Cebu and Tacloban branches are still operational.

TOKYO-INSPIRED. Tongara Ramen’s interiors mimic the minimalistic charm of its hometown. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Chef Makoto Okazaki is renowned for his unique tongara broth, a combination of tonkotsu (pork bone stock) and torigara (chicken bone stock), crafted for hours to achieve a rich yet balanced flavor profile. He has spent over a decade cooking and three years perfecting this trade-secret broth.

FOUNDER. Chef Makoto Okazaki from Japan founded Tongara Ramen in 2013. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Key to the authenticity of Tongara Ramen is its hand-mixed seafood paste, prepared by Chef Makoto and air-flown to the Philippines weekly. All ingredients and sauces come directly from Japan, ensuring each bowl of ramen is fresh, organic, and true to traditional Japanese techniques.

Now steaming at Estancia

Tongara Ramen’s modern flagship branch imbibes the Japanese dining experience with interiors inspired by Tokyo’s cozy alleyways and traditional woodworking. The timber centerpiece above the restaurant oversees elements such as the private room shoji doors and charcoal-stained chairs, making for a casual but classy dining atmosphere.

RAMEN BAR. Guests and solo diners can sit around the open half-kitchen. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

The booth seating is comfortable for groups, but solo diners are also welcome at the ramen bar up front.

TONGARA RAMEN. The signature ramen combines torigara and tonkotsu broths into one hearty bowl. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Tongara’s signature offering – the Tongara Ramen (P460) – balances the subtlety of chicken bone broth with the rich and hearty tonkotsu broth. Thin and chewy ramen noodles pair well with the umami-rich broth, which did get a bit too heavy for me after several spoonfuls – but adding a few splashes of vinegar for some acidity did the trick. The green onions also add a welcome zingy bite.

NOT TOO CHEWY. The noodles stand in between firm and chewy, thin enough to slurp up. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Each ramen bowl includes either torched chashu (marinated pork belly) or ebi (shrimp), fresh vegetables, ajitama (marinated boiled egg), menma (bamboo shoots), and negi (green onion).

TANTAN RAMEN. This spicy broth is mixed with minced pork and the other Japanese works. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Other ramen offerings include Tantan Ramen (P645): spicy broth with minced pork and Japanese vegetables; Tongara Seafood Ramen (P475): signature tongara broth mixed with seafood broth, topped with chashu or ebi; Tongara Ebi-Miso Ramen (P645): tongara broth with shrimp, chashu, and bean sprouts; Shoyu Ramen (P525): light and clear seafood broth with chashu or ebi; and Tongara Paco Ramen (P525): signature broth topped with breaded porkchop.

Tongara Ramen also offers the “dry ramen” Tsukumen (P525): cold ramen noodles dipped in a rich, complex broth.

There are Junior Bowls for Tongara (P325), Shoyu (P375), and Tongara Ebi Miso (P375) Ramen.

GYOZA. Five pieces of the pan-fried dumplings cost P230. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Ramen is best paired with hot and crispy side dishes, such as:

  • Gyoza (P230)
  • Chicken Karaage (P230)
  • Ebi Tempura (P340)
  • Spicy Chicken (P230)
  • Paco Breaded Pork Chop (P230)
  • Chashu Marinated Braised Pork Belly (P250)
  • Chahan Fried Rice (P250)
CHICKEN KARAAGE. Boneless chicken pieces are deep-fried in batter until golden brown and crunchy (but still moist on the inside). Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

A restaurant in the Philippines isn’t complete without rice, so Tongara Ramen ensured that donburi (rice bowls) were available on the menu:

  • Gyudon with Onsen Egg (P380)
  • Katsudon (P350)
  • Oyakudon (P350)
  • Chashudon (P350)
GYUDON. The donburi comes with a soft-boiled onsen egg. Photo by Paul Fernandez/Rappler

Expect to spend around P400 to P600 per person here, excluding the side dishes.

Tongara Ramen is located at 3F Estancia East Wing, Capitol Commons, Pasig City. – Rappler.com

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.