If there is one thing I have learned in my nearly two decades in the restaurant industry is that hospitality is the number one priority. It’s even called the hospitality industry. Why then does a business like Ukokkei exist and even thrive? To call the service bad is an understatement. It’s contemptuous.
Look on Tripadvisor.com and you’ll see the two most consistent remarks about Ukokkei are great ramen, crappy service. The chef, as RichieZ from thepickiesteater.net so poignantly said “is a total prick.” I couldn’t agree more. They exert a lot more energy in enforcing the house rules than they do on providing quality service.
On one visit I practically needed a flare gun to get the servers attention. We didn’t have enough chopsticks or plates. Drinks were empty and no napkins were provided. But the moment you break one of their rules, this is when they finally notice you. I got barked at by one of their inept servers for putting my foot on the lower step of the elevated dining area to put my shoes back on. And don’t even think about taking any pictures!
I understand that the Japanese take ramen very seriously and I have the utmost respect for their craft. But I’ve also met numerous chefs of Michelin-starred restaurants that were much humbler-spirited than this asshole.
I hate myself for going there. I hate myself further for going there a dozen or so times. But I have yet to find better ramen in Manila. I need ramen. So I keep going back like a desperate junkie only to be further violated.
The soup is really that good. I’ve heard many complain about the prices but I have no doubt that every ingredient in the broth is real and not cheaply produced. For a value comparison I tried the $68 soup at Guy Savoy in Las Vegas when I staged there. It was good, but no Ukokkei. The noodles are consistently great. They have a springy texture and I have yet to have them over or under cooked. The broth is awesome. It’s meaty and sticky, everything a good broth should be. I highly recommend the Shoyu Chasu ramen.
Then there’s the elusive Tan Tan Men. On my last visit I made sure to arrive at 6:00 so I could secure a bowl. With the restaurant almost empty the I had about six servers standing at attention awkwardly staring at me while I ate. Tan Tan Men is a spicy chicken and sesame based soup with ground pork. It has a layer of oil from the sesame that floats menacingly on top. It is incredibly delicious and spicy but will make you sweat mayonnaise through your pores. He only serves ten bowls per night, not because he can’t serve more, but because he’s a total prick.
So please manila, give me a better bowl of ramen. Give me better ramen and I will drop you, oh Ramen Nazi, disloyalty redeemed with disloyalty. Until then I dutifully return to my pusher. I hate you Ukokkei!
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