I don’t expect much from ramen that costs only P99. From my experience, that’s too low a price for a bowl to be of any remarkable quality. Too many corners must be cut for ramen to reach that price point, right? But that’s what Kyu Ramen Express in SM Marikina is offering. Let’s check out if it is worth the price. (Spoilers: Yes it is)
Kyu Ramen Express is a stall in SM Marikina’s food court, right beside the classics such as Sisig Hooray and Turks Shawarma. I’ve seen it a lot of times while lining up for some pita wraps, but it was only recently that I took the risk on their budget ramen.
Upon further research, this stall seems to be a satellite outlet of the franchise, Kyu Kyu Ramen 99, which has a more expansive menu and has restaurants found in other malls. But despite being a secondary branch, it still has a lot of ramen choices.
Their P99 ramen wasn’t the first thing I ordered. That day, my partner and I craved for something Japanese, but the lines at Ramen Kuroda and Marugame Udon were insanely long, so we ventured into the food court and it caught my attention again.
Since the ramen entries were less than P200, I was skeptical, but my hunger told me to risk it. After a few minutes of waiting, I placed our loaded tray on the table.
On that day, we ordered the Spicy Ichiban Ramen (P199), the Tonkotsu Ramen (P159), and a plate of Gyoza (P75).
I was pleased with how the ramen looked. I could see the richness of the broth and the slices of chashu were making my mouth water. Wasting no time, I grabbed a spoon and slurped a mouthful of broth.
It tasted as good as it looked. I don’t know what was in the Spicy Ichiban, but it was very savory with a slight sourness to it. The spicy kick was noticeable but still below my limit for spiciness. It’s not a ramen broth I’ve had before, but I like it.
The pork slices were expectedly thin, but I was glad to have more than one. The accompanying egg was also soft-boiled and runny, as is desired in classic ramen dishes.
What I was most happy to experience was how pleasing the noodles were. I can tell that they didn’t skimp on the quality. They were chewy and absorbed the broth well. If there was an option to get extra noodles, I wouldn’t even give a second thought to it.
My partner had the Tonkotsu ramen and after taking a sip of the broth, I am happy to report that it passed the taste test as well. While not as rich and flavorful as the pork broth of ramen giants like Mendokoro Ramenba and Ramen Nagi, the liquidized pork flavor was still present and good enough to satisfy my tastebuds.
The serving size was also something that they didn’t cheap out on. A single bowl was enough for me to fill satisfied, especially after slurping down the remaining broth. This was a meal well worth the money spent.
The gyoza was nothing special, though. Crispy on one side and steamed on the other, just the way traditional ramen houses served them.
I did think that they were a bit small and that the filling-to-wrapper ratio was a bit off, but considering the good value on the ramen, they were bearable.Not something I’d order again unless I really really want something on the side.
After the meal, I was still curious. How would their basic P99 Ramen compare to these more expensive offerings?
So naturally, we returned on another day.
This time we had their Kyukyu Ramen (P99) and the Cheesy Tonkotsu Ramen (P169).
First, the Cheesy Tonkotsu ramen had been teasing us since our first time here by being shown on the stall’s TV screens. We’re big fans of cheese so this was perfect.
I don’t know how to explain it, but the melted cheese added another dimension to the tonkotsu broth. The original pork flavor is still there, but the creaminess and smokiness of the cheese elevates it even further.
The taste reminds me of the Doll Cheese Flavor Instant Noodles that I love. Only much more richer because of the aforementioned tonkotsu broth.
This is definitely a must-try.
As for their bestseller, the P99 Ramen was also noteworthy. It’s definitely not tonkotsu. I’m guessing it’s more of a shoyu or shio broth, because the saltiness and the umami were the highlight of the flavor.
It’s as basic as they come. One slice of chashu, a piece of nori, and chopped spring onion were the only things in it aside from the broth and the noodles. But for the price, it’s the cheapest thing next to authentic Japanese ramen.
The authenticity of this meal can be debated, but it felt like a legit ramen experience. So far, I have no regrets from all the dishes I’ve tasted here.
Kyu Ramen Express still has more on its menu to offer. They have rice bowls which I am inclined to try next time. There are more ramen flavors to have which are still in the same price range, so expect an update to this (probably).
This is now my go-to for quick and cheap ramen. It has slightly edged out Ramen Kuroda for my top budget ramen place. Crazy that it’s just a stall inside the food court. I guess the lesson is to never judge a ramen place before you taste their food.
Thanks for reading and keep slurping!