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Ukokkei Closed!

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Update: Ukokkei Ramen Ron has reopened!

What’s this? Ukokkei closed by the Makati government?

The notice couldn’t be worded any more cryptically but it smells fishy to me. We had our issues, but this makes me sad. Anybody have some information on this?

I want answers!

Comments

  1. Jimmy Chua says:

    The food is good but Ang yabang Ng mga staff and waitresses Buti nga.

  2. Yuckokkei says:

    At last! Karma!
    In the posted closure doc on the glass door, you can only figure out that they didn’t pay the php50 (I think). For mayor’s permit and the regulation to have medical and health requirements for employees….imagine. I guess sick people have been preparing the food…. I wonder what they put.. I remember your not allowed to take out!

    • Jeremy says:

      I have serious doubts that any business owner would let go of a successful business over a php50 fee or a few health certificates. Call me a skeptic.

      Now on the karma issue, I as much as anyone really despised their pissy demeanor as a lifelong hospitality professional. However, if that’s the reason of their closure let the market decide. If the government is closing down small businesses arbitrarily there is a much larger problem.

  3. Oh. And I haven’t had the chance to try this. Hope they reopen soon. Might fear for the owner AKA “The Ramen Nazi”, as termed by a good friend. The shame might be unbearable. He may be in the Philippines, but it looks like he still is all Japanese in heart and mind. That’s seppuku all day everyday.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Rumor has it Ukokkei will reopen on Wednesday.

  5. X says:

    Guess someone didn’t give a government worker/official some “pampadulas” (lubricant) money, if you know what I mean.

  6. enzo says:

    I liked their food until their staff eventually pissed me off. I feel pretty vindicated now hahaha. If they re-open and still have attitude ill make parinig: “kaya kay0 sinasarhan e.”

  7. Mina says:

    Oh wow that’s so sad. I’ve never had a problem with the staff on the many times I’ve been there. My mother is a big fan of the place given she loves Ramen, and other than Japan I’ve never found a place where I liked ramen.

    I’m sad to hear that a lot of people seem to have issues with the staff though.

    • haze says:

      I tried visiting this place twice and yung pinakarecent was last Aug 3 and closed sila..ASAR lang kasi I’ve read good reviews pa naman about their Ramen kaya gusto ko siang matikman.

      Well, anyway there’s a new ramen joint me and my fiancee tried and were really satisfied. Its RAMEN X at Trinoma. Super affordable pa. Lowest rate is 99/bowl and mind you malaki ang serving nila and hindi puro sabaw lang.

      =)

  8. ranny says:

    the staff are nice been there twice enjoyed the food, staff was friendly and fast like real japanese staff, this is just a case of graft overblown, i mean some govt official or worker might not have gotten some moolah out of this authentic japanese ramen joint… so sad…

  9. Katrina says:

    OH, NO!!! But NO ONE makes Tan Tan Men like Ukokkei!!! :-( Yes, the owner is arrogant, but I can think of other restaurants with much worse service. I agree — let the market decide. My guess is that some govt. official got pissed off at them and decided to pull strings. That’s the far more likely scenario, not that owner didn’t pay a fee or follow regulations.

  10. tanya says:

    it’s not worded cryptically. you can check the city ordinances that were violated. public document yan. they probably did not declare all sales and paid the proper taxes (section 3), mayor’s permit fee (section4-A).

  11. Lia says:

    NOOOOOOO!
    I haven’t had Ukkokei in three months due to travel, and now they’re closed.

    Sure the owner is arrogant, but I think he really just takes his ramen seriously, and the staff have to follow his orders. In terms of service, most of the time the servers are fast and helpful. I’ve only had one bad waitress out of the times I’ve been there.

    Man, I really hope the closure is temporary, and if it’s some sort of tax/health violation they resolve it quickly. Once you’ve eaten at Ukkokei, ramen at other restaurants will never be as good. Even a Japanese friend I took there said the ramen there was better than most of the places they go to in Japan.

    • Jim says:

      The bald Japanese cook u see there is NOT the owner. My Japanese friend tells me he is just a chef there, and he knows the owner personally. And I the reason they were closed is because they pissed off one known politician who went to eat there, which validates the arrogantness of the staff. Better staff yung nasa malate.

  12. danjo says:

    i ate at their other branch in malate yesterday and inquired about the closure of their makati branch – according to them, Erap Estrada went late one night about a week ago and the owner refused to serve him and his entourage because they were already closing. they’re strict like that with everyone so i would understand… pero, ang problema, diba close si Erap kay Binay – kaya yun, after a few days, they were issued a forced closure memo pending investigation on their permits. so salamat Erap and Binay at wala kaming ramen nung umuulan :(

    btw, the visit to their malate branch was well worth the trip. its in mabini off quirino. cheers!

    • Jeremy says:

      That’s why this sounded a little fishy.. Surely there are a hundred businesses within a stone’s throw that lack the same permits or didn’t pay the same fees but were not shut down.

  13. ceowin says:

    The Ramen Nazi worked with strict compliance of his own ideals and beliefs. This is why his place became, arguably, the best Ramen spot in Manila. Given that he has such a reputation, it wouldn’t have been an issue if people wanted to eat there, as long as they followed the rules. I ate there a couple times and I had no problems with his style of service. Government officials, apparently, tried going there and wanted things to go their way, obviously infuriating the head chef. Maybe they wanted a group picture, maybe they wanted to talk out loud, or maybe they wanted to take up space inside the store while they’re waiting for their seats. Thus, through manipulation of “mga kakilala” in the government offices, they shut the place down. Shame to the government officials. Can’t they just NOT be spoiled?

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks for commenting! I love the discussion that this has provoked.

      I have obviously agreed to his “terms of service” implicitly by eating there a dozen or more times (though sometimes I still like to break his rules). This being said though, I still think he’s arrogant as hell. My perspective comes from having worked so long in the restaurant industry. I’ve known many Michelin-starred restaurants that are executing at a much higher level with much greater humility and hospitality.

      However! This is no justification for the government to shut the place down. I would resent the fact that corrupt government officials are closing legitimate small businesses to soothe a bruised ego. I think the reason provided for the closure has nothing to do with the closure.

  14. Love your blog Jeremy!

    I saw this article just now.. it was published a couple of days ago in the Philippine Star.

    It doesn’t really get into specifics but I hope it helps :)

    http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?publicationSubCategoryId=66&articleId=837757

    • Jeremy says:

      Thanks Richie! This is quite helpful and begs a couple questions.

      I don’t think anyone is trying to say the chef (not the owner) is not arrogant but I think there’s a greater issue. If I am a business person and I treat a customer rudely, that customer has the option never to patronize my business again. If I treat a large number of customers the same way I could imperil my business and that’s how the market will decide whether my business stays afloat.

      What I don’t understand is why the government has intervened. The market has clearly decided that it wants Ukokkei to remain open yet the government has closed it down. Is it really against the law to be rude to your customers or just bad business practice? How do you objectively define rudeness?

      Again, thank you for the link. It’s the first confirmation that the reason posted on the door is not the real reason. The fact that this article mentions these VIP’s being turned away only further confirms my suspicions. It’s all an ego play.

  15. HN says:

    What?? That’s so sad! I’ve been eating at Ukkokei for years now and I’ve never had any problems with the staff. They’re not overly friendly, but I don’t think they were rude either.

    There was just that one time where we were kinda encouraged to leave right after eating – we were done eating, but not quite ready to leave, but that was because the place was really busy and there was a line outside. A bit strange, but understandable.

    It’s such a great place though, I don’t think they should close down. I don’t care if the staff are rude – I go there for the food! I hope they will re-open soon.

    So, their branch in Ermita is also closed?

  16. jay p says:

    oh hey malate branch is open again!

    i spoke to the attendant there and she said they were closed tuesday because they blew a fuse in the circuit breaker.

    food is still good but the ramen nazi was not present.

  17. pat says:

    we are also victims of this guys arrogance….did you ever notice that he’s very nice to his japanese customers and never the same treatment to the filipino customers…this says something….

    so next time you eat there….keep this in mind…..

    japanese people are one of the most respectful cultures in the world…but not for this guy…

    • Jeremy says:

      Unfortunately I don’t think there will be a next time.

      • pat says:

        then this goes out to all present and future foreign owners who look down on filipino customers that if you open an establishment. Make sure you put the same love and respect to everyone….

        • Jeremy says:

          I agree with you but I don’t think justice was served by closing them down. If they had to close because they offended too many people and nobody wanted to go there anymore, that would be justice. The government stepping in because they got their egos bruised and closing them is just pure corruption. If they keep this up you won’t have to worry about any more foreign business owners at all.

          Keep in mind that about 30-40 Filipinos lost their jobs when this restaurant closed.

          • pat says:

            i agree with you there but im sure its only a staff of 8 lost their jobs there at the makati store. I dont think the government or a private citizen fabricated any detail into closing him down but just made an effort into finding any wrongdoing or issues at his store. We should all pay our taxes, permits, alien visa’s etc………I hope the staff will be able to find better bosses and on a lighter note. An average of 1 resto or snack place opens everyday in manila with an ave. or 4-5 staff hirings….so multiply by 7 days that 35 new hires every week…….

          • Jeremy says:

            I think we clearly see this issue very differently, which is good. I’m glad to have diverse opinions here. Here is my viewpoint.

            As far as the number of employees goes, I am speculating, but there were around 10-12 employees visible on each visit I’ve made there. If they work in shifts then their roster should number around 30-40. In addition restaurants often have janitorial crew, purchasers, accountants etc. The closing of the Makati store certainly made most of these positions obsolete.

            I think to say that’s ok because other food businesses are opening is a little optimistic in a country where at least 30% of the population lives below the poverty line. I’ve seen plenty of CV’s from low wage-earning Filipinos that have been out of work for months.

            I’m not saying that anything was fabricated to close the restaurant. I’m just saying the stated reason for closing it has absolutely nothing to do with the real reason. They should enforce taxes, permits, etc. but they should do it evenly. If they had done this they would have closed 75% of the restaurants on Pasay Rd. The issue here was pride, plain and simple.

            Now, with the space empty, fewer Filipinos are employed, less goods are being sold and one of the best ramen restaurants in the city is closed. That’s a heavy price to pay for pride.

            Though the economy may be growing in the PI it is actually getting worse at creating a friendly business environment for foreign investors. Last year it slipped two places behind Nigeria, Syria and Sudan, largely because of a lack of reforms and transparency.

            Please don’t take my disagreement as antagonism as I do appreciate your contributions to the discussion. To me this discussion is less about Ukokkei and its owners and more about Manila’s progress. In this case I think we all took a step backward.

  18. nims says:

    So, any news/updates if Ukokkei Ramen Ron will re-open anytime soon? I sure miss eating there.

  19. nims says:

    that’s sad news indeed. the other branch in mabini’s quite far for me. we all had a good run though. thanks very much, jeremy.

    • Jeremy says:

      I was wrong! I had heard news that the owners did not intend to reopen, but they have indeed reopened. I just went there tonight and had some Shoyu Chashu.

  20. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.
    The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in
    Internet explorer. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.

    The layout look great though! Hope you get the problem solved soon.

    Thanks

  21. rinoa says:

    well. buti nga mas marami kaseng nabasa kong bad comments kesa sa good jan sa japanese resto na yan. buti na lang di ko pa nattry jan kundi mlamang nag blog na ko ng mga panget na comments about them :)

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