Last month, on the way to Buffalo's Wings N' Things, we passed by a Japanese restaurant named go-en. Bf, ever the big fan of soups and noodles, perked up. Since BWNT does not serve soups, bf was fidgety and wouldn't shut up about ramen. I was already full so I thought he was just kidding, but I was wrong. After finishing our food in BWNT, bf convinced me to accompany him to go-en (while silently hoping our co-diners in BWNT would not see us eating again).
Stepping inside go-en felt like going to another dimension. You see, go-en is located between Buffalo Wings N' Things and Moonleaf Tea Shop, both of which were busy and noisy that particular Saturday night. In go-en, however, it was really quiet, very zen. Later on, we learned that go-en was still on their soft opening as they opened only last May 5. We were the only diners that time so we got showered with attention.
Unlike other Japanese restos here in the Philippines, go-en is not spreading itself thinly, at least not yet. As their name implies, it is a ramen shoppe. They have non-ramen items but the selection is not that wide. We'll see if they'll add more non-ramen food offerings in the future.
Bf ordered the Shoyu Ramen and Ramune (Original Flavor). Originally, I was planning to only accompany bf since I was already stuffed full of buffalo wings and rice but the people at go-en were so nice, they gave us complimentary iced teas and anchovies with sesame seeds as appetizers, that I felt it would be rude not to order anything, so ordered their Japanese-style Potato Salad.
I was surprised with their iced tea. Since it was complimentary, I was expecting it to be just a sweet, watery iced tea, like the ones usually served in other restos. But go-en's iced tea is not sweet and has powdery residues at the bottom, which makes me think that the staff actually steeps tea leaves/tea bags in hot water then chills the beverage afterwards. If a restaurant will exert the extra effort for free iced tea when then can get away with just mixing readily-available iced tea powder with cold water, that's a good sign!
The Potato Salad is good. It is smooth and creamy, with shredded cucumbers and carrots.
|Potato Salad - P110|
The Shoyu Ramen has a dark soy sauce-based soup and includes hosomen, nori, menma, boiled egg, naganegi, chashu, and naruto. Bf found it enjoyable.
|Shoyu Ramen - P350|
In my Sakae Sushi review, I said that we would not be ordering Ramune again because our curiosity was already satisfied, but when presented with the Original flavor, we couldn't help but be curious again. Ramune Original has a lemon-lime taste, with an aftertaste that reminds me of the banana essence used in gulaman drinks.
|Ramune (Original) - P70|
The only thing that prevents us from coming back to go-en as often as we like is the price of the food. Compared to other restaurants, the food here is more expensive. The different kinds of ramen, for example, are in the P300 and P400 range. (Surprisingly, their Ramune is cheaper than in Sakae Sushi - P70 vs P99.)
I think the higher prices are justified though since go-en seems to be aiming for authenticity. Even their moist towelettes have a "Made in Japan" mark.
go-en has a really pleasant interior design. The glass door and the track lights add a modern feel to the old-world charm brought by the wooden furniture and decors. In general I don't like a lot of wood inside spaces, but go-en's interior made me realize why a lot of people like all these wooden things. I was particularly intrigued with the high chairs and tables on the inner side of the room. Perhaps next time I will sit on one of those tall chairs, feeling like a goddess while overlooking my
minions fellow diners sitting at the regular-sized tables.
Several Japanese-themed paintings hang on the walls and Japanese music plays. The servers wear Japanese-inspired comfy-looking uniforms and I'm glad to see that the girls don't have to strut around their whole shift wearing high heels.
Like I mentioned earlier, the place is quiet and relaxing. It's a nice place if you want to impress a date (after all, the restaurant's name means 'good luck in relationships') or discuss business matters over lunch or dinner. According to one of the owners, they value the privacy and exclusivity they offer to their patrons, which was why they had not advertised yet.
CleanlinessEverything is clean and orderly.
This is a little tricky to judge since we were the only customers that time, but we got great service. The staff was accommodating and polite. Marilyn Pefianco, one of the owners, and her friend Carol Calpo were also there and were very helpful and friendly. Since the resto was still in soft opening mode and they were still tweaking the food to suit Filipino taste buds, Marilyn and Carol approached us to get our feedback, even taking the initiative to give bf another bowl of broth used for their bestseller ramen so that he could compare both types of ramen broth. They also gave us a box of Japanese candy afterwards.
I don't think they paid us extra attention because they wanted me to blog good things about go-en. In fact, the attention was not on me, but on bf, since he was the one eating the ramen. I just happened to be the companion of the ramen-eater. Safe to say that the good service and the feedback chat were aimed to improve things and please their customers and not to just charm us into posting positive things online.
go-en The Japanese Ramen Shoppe
Jardin de Zenaida (formerly Esquinita)
Sgt Esguerra Ave, South Triangle
Quezon City, Metro Manila