Friday, April 26, 2013

Get Blessed by the Ramen God at Ramen Yushoken

Hiyashi Chuka
(cold ramen)
I have read so many good things about Ramen Yushoken. I have told my brother about it, too, and the fact that it had opened a branch in Molito Alabang. That my brother likes ramen is an understatement I think, so the very first chance he got out of his busy schedule, he went over to Molito to find out what the big fuss was all about. Unfortunately, when he got there, they were out of ramen and he was told that they were no longer accepting customers for the day. I had warned my brother about this, too-- that Ramen Yushoken prepares only a limited number of ramen per day and they could close even before store hours are up when the ingredients run out-- so he was not too mad at me when I sent him on what turned out to be wild goose chase. A couple of days ago, it was a friend of mine who asked me if I wanted to have a meal in Ramen Yushoken because she had read so many good reviews about it, too. Not having gone there myself, of course I agreed to go.

Out of excitement, I think, I left my camera on the day that we went there. It was a good thing that my friend had a fantastic camera on her smart phone. (Thank you, Mennie, for making these photos possible.)

Gyokai Tsukumen
House-made and Fresh
Ramen from
Ramen Yushoken
While waiting for our orders, I busied myself with learning more about Ramen Yushoken by reading Ramen Yushoken 101, written on paper that doubles as the restaurant's place mats. My placemat tells me that the restaurant's specialty, tonkotsu, or pork-bone broth, is boiled for 12 hours. That explains perhaps their order limit per day, that and the fact that they make their noodles in-house. Understandably, restocking on tonkotsu, which pervades all the soups of Ramen Yushoken, when they run out may be a tricky proposition for the chef.

My place mat also contains literature on the history of sorts of Ramen Yushoken. Fun fact: Ramen Yushoken's ramen is "derived from 'Ramen God' Kazuo Yamagishi... He is the most revered ramen personality in Japan today, as he was the inventor of the widely popular tsukemen or "dipping ramen."

The place in Molito is very cozy, has high ceilings, good lighting and acoustics. On one side is a bar which, though it looks decidedly modern, is reminiscent of traditional Japanese ramen houses. You can have your ramen here to get that authentic ramen house feel or if the couch is not your thing. While your at it, why not get yourself an ice cold bottle of Asahi or Sapporo Premium Beer?

Speaking of tradition, do not expect to order sushi, katsu, or tempura here. You go to Ramen Yushoken to have ramen, nothing else. (Ok, so maybe some traditional Japanese side dishes like gyoza and karaage.) This reminds me of a friend of mine who told me that there are no "Japanese restaurants" in Japan like the ones we have here. What you have there are restaurants like ramen houses and sushi houses that serves only one particular specialty and they have real "masters" at the helm who have perfected their craft by learning from the master that came before them. What an thought. That kind of redefined the word "specialty" for me.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Making Dulce de Leche

Dulce de Leche
A couple of days ago, I was making some cupcakes for my brother to bring to a party at work. I thought I had all the ingredients with me on hand. And I did. The problem was, I did not have enough of one, the powdered sugar, for the peanut butter frosting. Nevertheless, I started to make the frosting, hoping against hope that it would turn out fine. Sure enough, it failed. I whipped and whipped and whipped, and the frosting kept failing on me. Frustrated, I stuck the miserable bowl of frosting inside the fridge. Meanwhile, there I was late at night with a bunch of unfrosted chocolate cupcakes racking my brain and the cupboard for alternative ideas for frosting.

There is not much I can do in terms of cupcake frosting without powdered sugar. I could make whipped ganache. Ganache does not call for powdered sugar, but I did not have enough cream. Or, I thought, I could make dulce de leche out of the cans of Milkmaid condensed milk in the cupboard, and frost the cupcakes with that. It would be like Slice's Double Chocolate Yema cupcake. 

Desperate, and probably simply too sleepy, I submerged a can of condensed milk into a pot of water and waited for it to boil. The idea on how to do this came from one of my friends who told me about how as children they would make butterscotch out of condensed milk by boiling it in its own can. Later, I would read about it and find out that it was actually dulce de leche and not butterscotch. Butterscotch or not, the concoction sounded very yummy but I never got the heart to make it because boiling a can of milk for four hours sounded, well, too much. But, again, I was desperate. I knew that dulce de leche would take four hours to make and longer to cool. What I did not realize was that at the time that I started making it, it was 11:30 in the evening. I knew I was never going to make it.

Forlorn, I took out my so-called peanut butter frosting from the fridge to see if it had magically turned into something decent. It tasted OK despite the odd texture, so I decided to work around it by piping it onto the cupcake to look like many little flowers instead of one big swirl. That did it for my brother's cupcakes.

The next day, I had a can of utterly decadent dulce de leche on my hands. Without the cupcakes, I used it on my apple pie that I had made a couple of days back which came out too tart to tame the flaw. The rest I used as topping for many other desserts, and some I even ate off a spoon. It was that good.

All in all, that can of condensed milk did not go to waste and I was glad I finally got to make a culinary project that I had been thinking about doing for the longest time. Although I did have a pickle trying to convince my mom that I did not waste four hours worth of her LPG boiling a can of milk.

Dulce de Leche

1 can of Milkmaid condensed milk

Peel off paper label from can of Milmaid. Put the unopened can in a heavy pot and pour water just enough to cover can up to an inch. Bring water to a boil over high heat. When the water is boiling, lower heat and let the water simmer for 4 hours. Periodically add water to keep the can submerged in an inch of simmering water. 

After four hours, carefully take out the can from the water and let it sit in room temperature until the can is cool enough to handle. This may take a couple of hours. When cool, open can with a can opener all the way through. The milk should have turned caramel brown in color and the consistency thick and heavy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Slice of Pie

In case you are wondering, yes, I intentionally made the title sound like the movie. But unlike the movie, this post has nothing existential to offer, nothing at all, and reading this will not change your life. I merely want to tell you that I made pie. Apples, if you must know what exactly it was made of. It was not perfect, I will admit that much. I put too much lemon juice, I think. I mean, I know I put too much lemon juice and it made my pie too, er, tart. But it had one heck of a crust. The recipe, technically called pate brisee, was from Martha Stewart, and it came out perfect. The texture was nicely flaky and the flavor quite lovely. If something saved that pie, I say it would be that pie crust. So I will make pie again. The same crust of course, and perhaps, again with apples, but I will cut down the lemon juice.

My apple pie despite its shortcomings got finished, by the way. I made it edible, even delicious I dare say, by topping each slice of pie with some luscious sweet dulce de leche before serving. Interestingly, I made the dulce de leche for something else, but that story is for another post. In the meantime, here is Martha's recipe for Pate Brisee (Don't fret if you do not have a food processor. I didn't. I simply used 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour, until I got the required consistency.):

Pate Brisee

Makes two 8- to 10-inch single-crust pies or one 8- to 10-inch double-crust pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and process for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream, through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide in two. Place each half on a sheet of plastic wrap. Flatten, and form two discs. Wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Vanilla Cupcake Bakery in ATC

Red Velvet (Php85) & Vanilla Blue (Php75)
Been waiting for this cupcake bakery to open ever since I saw the place being renovated in Alabang Town Center. I was attracted to the adorable candy striper colors and outlandish fixtures and accents that adorned it and I could not wait to sit myself down in one of the whimsical yet comfortable looking chairs.

I would channel Alice in Wonderland, once I am there, I say. And that is just what I did today. Yay!

Valrhona Chocolate
I picked the cupcake from behind the glass case that said "Eat me!" the most, and took two more to bring home. So that I would get to taste some more of what Vanilla Cupcake Bakery had to offer (and so I would get to have one of the cute cupcake boxes that they would come with).

I did like my Valrhona Chocolate cupcake, the frosting just enough and sweet, of course, but not overly so, while the cake presents a tender crumb and a sophisticated chocolaty taste.

Curiously, I did not grow inhumanly tall after consuming the last bite of my cupcake, but I may have grown a pound wider. Still, a pound well worth it.
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