Blink and you might miss it. Though once you’ve experienced the food at Ohayo Maki and Ramen Bar, we bet that you won’t stop thinking about it. Located along the winding stretch of Granada Avenue, a little drive after the Greenhills shopping district is this hidden gem of a Japanese joint serving up awesome ramen bowls and creative maki selections.
Ohayo actually started as a standalone kiosk in Tomas Morato. Chef Jorge Mendez shared how he and his team began late in the afternoon until an hour after midnight serving their creations to customers who needed a Japanese fix after their drinking sessions. The team’s perseverance paid off, and with the kiosk’s huge success, they eventually decided to put up an actual restaurant.
Decked out with Japanese pop culture references from Seven Samurai to Godzilla on its walls, the ground floor limits itself to two-seater tables and a long bar perfect for ramen aficionados who want to witness the chefs assemble their signature bowls. The second floor has a handsome cocktail bar where one can loosely recreate the Hattori Hanzo intro scene from Kill Bill. Past it is a large nook where groups can enjoy some privacy as Mr. Miyagi looks on from above.
Like most Japanese restaurants in Manila, Ohayo also offers a little bit of everything in its menu, the difference though is how they value flavor above all else, plus the challenge of making it their own. “All our sauces and ramen bases and even our ramen noodles are made in-house,” shares Jorge. The secret to this is the hidden commissary located on the third floor where the chefs would prepare everything from scratch—starting the day as early as five in the morning.
To begin your meal, order first the Taco-Yaki. Traditionally, takoyaki is cooked in a non-stick pan with semi-circle-shaped holes to mold it into its familiar round shape. Ohayo takes a playful route with their version by cooking the seasoned takoyaki batter into a pancake. It is then topped with grilled pieces of octopus tentacles, micro-sliced red cabbage, Katsuobushi flakes, dollops of Japanese mayonnaise, Tonkatsu sauce, and aunori (seaweed). The fun is folding and eating it taco-style so you can savor every flavor.
Ohayo’s Poke Bowl was once an off the menu option and we’re glad that it has become a favorite among their loyal customers. It starts off with a sushi rice base followed by a topping of following elements: micro-sliced red cabbage, salmon chunks dressed in tangy gojuchang sauce and topped with sesame seeds, squid ink-flavored tanoke, loads of ebiko (fish roe), gari (pickled ginger), pickled onions, and aunori.
A new item worth raving about is the Tendon. Enjoy perfectly-fried pieces of ebi (shrimp) and sliced vegetables like potato, carrots, onion, and eggplant over steaming Japanese rice that’s heavily drizzled with Ohayo’s house made tempura sauce.
Rainy season or not, the ramen bowls at Ohayo are enough reason to visit the place. Jorge’s personal favorite, (and ours as well) is the Tonkotsu, a creamy, pork-based ramen exploding with flavor. Toppings for this include a torch slab of chashu (pork belly) naruto (fish cake), leeks, green onion, menma (bamboo shoots), mushroom ears, and aji tamago.
If you prefer your ramen spicy and nutty, then go for the Tantamen. Chef Jorge composes his rendition of the miso-based ramen with rich toppings like minced pork and chashu pieces. It is then garnished with bok choy, green onions, leeks, sesame oil, plus a final squirt of chili oil.
Best to pair any of the ramen bowls with the winged Gyoza, Ohayo’s house-made succulent pork dumplings with matching soy ginger sauce.
Ohayo’s lone dessert is the Coffee Jelly, and quite frankly, it can stand on its own. Imagine cubes of bittersweet coffee gelatin are topped with thick, velvety cream—we wouldn’t mind eating this first.
The restaurant has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a food kiosk. And even if Chef Jorge and his team have already settled into their current location, it hasn’t stopped the team from further developing their offerings and of course, their concept.
As Jorge explains, “We won’t stop on leveling up our food.” With this statement, Ohayo promises to add more items on the menu as well as looking into expanding their brand to other locations. All we got to say is, hello and keep it coming.
30 Granada Avenue, Villa Ortigas II, Barangay Valencia, Quezon City. Call (02) 280-9657
Opens daily from 11:00AM to 1:00AM
Photographed by Floyd Jhocson of Studio 100