• Location: Second Floor, Uptown Parade, 38th Street Corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
  • Operating Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.

       Bar chow: starts at 4:00 p.m. (for now)

     Yakitori: 5:30 p.m. (for now)

      Cocktails: 4:00 p.m.

  • Cuisine: Ramen, Yakitori and other Izakaya style dishes
  • Price per head: P400 and above
  • Signature drinks: Bayabas Daiquiri, Sunset Fizz, Bazooka, Unencumbered

Singapore-based Iki Concepts brings Uma Uma Ramen, a contemporary ramen shop established in Fukuoka, Japan, to its second location in Manila at Uptown Parade at BGC (their first branch is at S Maison). With over 60 years of ramen-making experience, Uma Uma has a total of 10 outlets throughout Asia (five in Japan, two in Singapore, one in Thailand, and two in the Philippines).

Uma Uma, a pun on the Japanese word for “tasty or good,” has a diverse, mouth-watering ramen menu, featuring not only dishes centered around an age-old family recipe, but also dishes found in most izakayas of Japan. And they’re all MSG-free. Their noodles are made according to a family recipe, and complimented with a robust and aromatic Tonkotsu stock.

Aligue (Crab) Dry Ramen and Tan Tan Men

They also want to incorporate local flavors, so they’ve launched Aligue (Crab) Dry Ramen, which offers a sweet, savory, rich, fresh taste of the sea. “It was our plan to release a ramen inspired by local flavors. Aligue was one of the ingredients that caught our chef’s (Chef Satoshi Nakamura) attention,” explains Russell Yu, Director of Iki Concepts Singapore. “He experimented making it as a dry ramen – which turned out to be one of the best experiments that has come out of Uma Uma PH’s kitchen. So if Aligue works, it’s something that we want to export out to Singapore and Japan.”

Apart from flavorful food, Uma Uma PH also serves cocktails, created in collaboration with their team at The Horse’s Mouth (their bar under Uma Uma Singapore which opened in 2012) and their local team. Russell, who was born and raised in Singapore, but whose parents are Filipino, and his partners, have always wanted to run a bar. “Horse’s Mouth (the Japanese symbol for Uma means horse) was very much inspired by bars in Japan which are very classic in terms of technical execution of the drinks,” he says. “But more because you find bars in Japan with really high quality drinks in just the most unexpected places.” They are located at Forum, which is a family mall, an unlikely place to find a bar that serves bespoke cocktails.

They decided to branch out to the Philippines because it was the perfect time. “I guess on a ramen perspective, it’s a very carb and pork hungry nation, so our food can match that,” he says. “On the cocktail side, when we first opened The Horse’s Mouth in 2012, we feel like Manila kind of matches that now. It’s moving very fast (referring to cocktail and drinking culture). It’s pretty exciting.”

They’ve transported the ramen-and cocktails concept to their Philippine counterparts and have come up with a shortlist of cocktails that guests can enjoy at the Uma Uma BGC branch (A more extensive bespoke cocktail selection is available at their S Maison branch, where there is a hidden bar that opens at 5 p.m.). At the moment, none of the cocktails being served in the Philippines are being served in Singapore. “These are all just for the Philippines. We tried to bring some of the drinks we have at Singapore across, but we had a lot of ingredient and supply issues, because we have very localized drinks,” Russell shares. “Like we have a Kopi and Kaya cocktail that’s very local there. The different acidities of the coffees here just didn’t match well with the foam that we make and so we couldn’t get the right proportion and the float.”

With that same mindset, they sought to create a cocktail menu that would include local products and flavors. They also make their own syrups and even their own ice (courtesy of their Hoshizaki Ice Machine). You know a bar is serious about their drinks if they make their own ice. Russell and his team came up with cocktails that are approachable, since most of their clientele in the BGC area are young adults who are still going through their San Miguel-Jose Cuervo phase. “We didn’t go too crazy on the cocktails. It can’t be too complex, since we’re talking to kids who are just starting to learn to drink cocktails.”

The dining area of Uma Uma BGC is casual and straightforward, borrowing classic Japanese design elements. There is a small bar area to the side, where you can sit and watch their bartenders create your cocktails for you. A painting of drinking horses in Japanese garb is mounted on the wall. A ceramic bake-danuki (a Japanese Raccoon Dog, a fixture in Japanese izakayas said to bring good luck and prosperity to the establishment) has a special place right on the bar.

Ichi

Ichi, one of Uma Uma’s bartenders, gave us a taste of all the cocktails they offer, plus a bonus. Here’s a rundown of the Uma Uma BGC cocktails.

Bayabas Daiquiri

Bayabas Daiquiri (Havana 3 years, lime juice, homemade salted guava syrup, and garnished with dried lime wheel) has a fragrant, citrusy-garden aroma—like the smell in the air after it rains. While there is a distinct burst of guava flavor after you sip, it isn’t overpowering. Rather, it elevates the taste.

Bazooka

Bazooka (Stolichnaya Vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, homemade elderberry syrup, Fee Brother’s Cranberry Bitters, and garnished with dried lime wheel) is fruity and spirit forward, with a slight tart bitterness. It mimics the taste of the favorite bubble gum of our youth. “That’s my favorite drink on the list. Because it’s like childhood-style,” Russell reveals. The flavor rolls in your mouth, and has a bitter, fruity finish.

Sunset Fizz

Sunset Fizz (Beefeater London Dry Gin, Cherry Heering, homemade strawberry mango tea syrup, lemon juice, egg white, topped with soda, and garnished with fresh lemon wheel) is served without a straw, as its concept is like a cappuccino. You feel the froth, feel the texture, and pull the drink into mouth. It’s light, refreshing, mild, delicately balanced, with a slight tart finish.

Unencumbered

Unencumbered (1800 Silver, Green Chartreuse, lemon juice, homemade apple syrup, Japanese cucumber) means “unburdened” and is also kind of a play on “cucumber,” smells fresh and herbaceous. The Japanese cucumber has a deeper flavor, so the taste is fuller. It’s polished, layered, and sophisticated, with a smooth finish. Sip this, and all the stress will melt away.

South Side

South Side (Beefeater London Dry Gin, lime juice, sugar, fresh mint, pepper, garnished with mint leaf) is like a mojito with gin instead of rum. It’s minty and slightly sweet, with a tart finish.

Donald Duck

Donald Duck (Mount Gay Eclipse, Cherry Heering, Kahlua, brown sugar, egg yolk, and served in a Martini glass) is a dessert-type drink. It’s sweet and creamy, with hints of chocolate and coffee. This is nice sweet ending to a flavorful meal, and a good choice for those that can’t decide whether to drink or have a dessert.

Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow (Havana 7 years, Martini Rosso, Maraschino Liqueur, Angostura bitters, served in a martini glass and garnished with orange peel) looks elegant and sexy, but don’t let its appearance fool you. This is a spirit forward cocktail with bold flavors. Great to have when you’re having an off day.

Aphrodisiac

BONUS – Aphrodisiac (Tanqueray, lime juice, syrup, absinthe, Japanese cucumber, mint, egg white, served foamy in a coupette) is not on the Uma Uma BGC menu (it’s in the S Maison branch menu). It’s a more posh variation of the South Side, with the addition of egg white and and absinthe. The egg white tempers the gin and lime. It has a soft, silky texture and goes down smooth, and it ends with mint and cucumber notes.

Tan Tan Men, Their Mentai Cheese Balls, Aligue (Crab) Dry Ramen, Takoyaki, Yakitori, and Chicken Karaage

Of course their food can be paired with their drinks. “The yakitori actually goes pretty well with our cocktails,” suggests Russell. “It’ s not a typical combination. Typically yakitori is a beer food, but we’ve been experimenting with cocktails and yakitori as a mix in Singapore in one of our outlets. And the response has been relatively good.”

Their Mentai Cheese Balls (crunchy on the outside, rich and creamy on the inside), Gyoza Chips and Dips (wasabi mayo and mentaiko mayo), and Chicken Karaage are solid choices to pair with your chosen drinks. They also have Eihire (dried stingray fins) that are unique in flavor for those who want to try something out of the ordinary.

Overall, the cocktails at Uma Uma are delicate, fragrant, and well-balanced. There is nothing heavy-handed about how they craft their drinks. It’s a great place to enjoy remarkable cocktails in a casual setting. Who knew ramen and cocktails would work so well together?

Chrysmas is your go-to gal for all things involving alcohol. She maneuvers her way through the Metro’s traffic in her black boots and fishnet stockings, scouring places where one can indulge one’s self in libations of all kinds. From Poblacion to Pasay, Malate to Makati, Tagaytay to Taguig. Ask her where to go to get your choice of poison and chances are she’s already there holding a good stiff drink in one hand and a pen in the other.

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