August 21, 2018

Authentic and Affordable: Menya Noodle & Bento Bar - Greenhills

Ahhhh, ramen… it took the world by storm and it is here to stay forever. Ramen, perhaps is an ever-evolving Japanese favorite food; it has taken many forms from a convenient instant noodle college dorm food to being a hybrid artisanal fare. It is one of those ever-present comfort food that almost everyone seeks in times of when the soul needs some soothing.

Ramen was developed in the late 17th century Japan and is thought to have originated in China. It’s worldwide success came about after World War II. Now there are a hundreds of thousands of different kinds of ramen restaurants around the globe. Some claim to be authentic, some claim that they are serving fusion or something that would fit the local palate to which they are located. 


But of course, most of us always go search for the authentic ones, after all, nothing beats the real deal. Many will make it their life goal to travel to Japan just to taste the ramen from where it was birthed or try the local places that serves authentic ones even though the prices might be a little steep. As for someone who’s an OK fan of ramen, and has no plans of going to Japan soon, to find a place where ramen is authentic and affordable would be awesome. And recently, that thought became a surprising reality. 

Tucked away inside the Promenade Mall in Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan is this hidden ramen-gem named Menya Noodle & Bento Bar. It is the more affordable and accessible version of its sister, well-known ramen house: Kichitora Ramen. Menya literally means “noodle” (men)  and “house” (ya). Menya Noodle & Bento Bar was born out of the love of the owners for Ramen. They love traveling to Japan and eating in those little neighborhood ramen stores that could sit only around 10 persons max. That, together with the desire to bring home and share the authentic ramen experience and flavor to friends, loved ones and fellow Filipinos, were the inspiration behind why they put up this venture. 

Menya’s space is bit small but gives you that old school ramen shop feel with a bar facing the open kitchen and two tables on the other side of the wall. But don’t fret, there are available tables outside of the store that you can utilize as well. Menya Noodle & Bento Bar keeps its menu short and sweet. The menu boasts six ramen dishes, five bento options and 2 side dishes to satisfy your Japanese cravings. I got to try a few of them and here they are: 

Fried Gyoza - fried dumplings stuffed with pork and chicken, cabbage, and served with Ponzu sauce. I’ve always loved gyoza, whether they are authentically cooked or not. Like you know, I’ve never met a gyoza that I didn’t like. I love how juicy on the inside, crispy and golden brown on the outside, these Japanese pan-fried dumplings are. They are such great appetizer before engulfing a bowl full of ramen. 

Chicken Karaage - house marinated chicken fried to perfection with lemon. This is the ala carte version but this also comes in a bento box. Ok, don’t let me get started with these karaage. They’re like miracles sent from heaven, they are so damn good! The coating itself tasted so good, they’re incredibly airy and crispy. The chicken meat was also very flavorful and super tender. Every piece will give you a good contrast of tastes and textures that are just sublime. This was my top 1 among all the dishes that we tried. 

Chicken Nanban - this chicken Nanban is a Kyusyu region take on popular Karaage chicken soaked in sweet and sour Nanban sauce topped with tartar sauce. This is like the karaage, it also has that crisp, light, fluffy egg coating and the chicken is tender as well. The Nanban sauce is a pool of flavor as the egg coating dissolves in your mouth. The tartar sauce is on the tangy side. 

Chasu Bun - buns filled with barbecue-flavored chasu pork. This is your best accompaniment to your ramen. The slow-braised chasu (pork cutlet) is tucked into fluffy white buns. This folded over steamed buns are definitely worth obsessing over. 

Menya Tonkotsu Ramen - 10-hour pork bone broth, signature noodles, pork chashu. Menya’s original/regular ramen flavor which has a milky white and unctuous broth. Like I said, I’m not really a fan of ramen so I wouldn’t know how to tell a good ramen from not. But this one tasted like melted pork and bone marrow. The flavor was light and just right. 

Tsukemen - 10-hour pork bone dipping broth, signature noodles, pork chashu. This is my first time to eat Tsukemen and my foodie colleagues taught me how to eat it. The noodles are separated from the broth and you have to dip the noodles into the broth and then put them in your mouth. It was quite good and very savoury. But when I tried just the broth, it was quite salty in my opinion. Perhaps it is the way it is, that’s why the noodles aren’t mixed into the soup. 

Spicy Tonkotsu Ramen - spicy broth, Menya tonkotsu ramen, red chili paste. I’m not fond of spicy food as I have very low tolerance to it. I also hate how chili stays too long in my tongue that’s why I favor wasabi over chili. Good thing that this wasn’t super spicy and doesn’t give too much of a punch which I like. Surprisingly, this spicy ramen took a place on my top 3 Menya dishes.

Black Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen - black garlic oil, Menya tonkotsu ramen, garlic chips. Menya uses both thick and thin handmade noodles FYI. I love garlicky flavor so this appealed to me more than the regular flavor. The garlic flavor was pronounced which I surely appreciated. 

Abura Soba - premium sesame oil sauce blend, signature noodles, pork chashu, wood ear mushroom strips and chopped spring onion leaves. OMG this dish! One of the most delicious and addictive types of ramen I’ve have ever had in my entire life. This soup-less oil buckwheat noodles are divine! From just the aroma of it, you’ll be salivating like a mad dog. I’m not a fan of ramen, but this one I’d eat it anytime! Suffice to say, this takes the top 2 of all the dishes I’ve got to try that night. 

Chicken Teriyaki Bento - chicken teriyaki, Japanese rice, salad, croquettes. This sesame fried chicken is probably one of the most popular combinations when it comes to Japanese bento. The sauce was flavorful and the chicken meat super tender. 

Chicken Karaage Bento - chicken karaage, Japanese rice, salad, croquettes. If you want a rice meal with the chicken karaage this is your best bet. Please refer to my review of the karaage above. J

Pork Chasu Bento - pork chasu, Japanese rice, salad, croquettes. I like that Menya doesn’t scrimp on quality as they use real Japanese rice for their bentos. The croquettes are made from mashed potato and mince pork which are very tatsty and fun to eat. The chasu (pork cutlet) was super tender and almost melts-in-your-mouth. The sweet and savory sauce that it came with was too savoury that it was just perfect for it to be paired with rice or else you’ll get over-satiated with the flavor. 

Pork Tonkatsu Bento - pork tonkatsu, Japanese rice, salad, croquettes. If I’m not a fan of ramen, well, this I’m gonna tell you, katsus are my fave! I loved the crispy and light coating. The pork was tender and with fat trimmings. They are definitely slices of heaven if I must say. Definitely up my alley!

If you love authentic yet affordable ramen and bento, Menya Noodle & Bento Bar can be your new default place to go. Offering an impressive noodle menu to slurp through, delectable bento boxes and sides to comfort your Japanese cravings. High quality Japanese favorites, good service and a budget-friendly menu could easily make Menya Noodle & Bento Bar the next popular ramen spot for everyone.

Food Court, G/F, Promenade, Greenhills
Shopping Centre, Greenhills, San Juan City
Contact Nos: 02 2469069 ext:889

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Menya Noodle & Bento Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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