The name Kureji doesn’t make it immediately clear what this restaurant specializes on. In fact, it took me a good minute to realize that it’s actually the Japan-ized way of saying ‘crazy’. I was ready to pass it by as my family and I were looking around for a place to eat in Vertis North, but then I heard two words that captured my interest: Sizzling. Ramen.
In a world that’s currently filled with ramen, this was certainly the first I’m hearing about sizzling ramen. I was curious about how different this could potentially be. I have a great love for Asian noodle soup dishes, and ramen is obviously one that falls into that category. But sizzling ramen? How different could this be?
Needless to say, I walked into Kureji with a fair amount of expectations. And since we’re expecting a long weekend, I just thought I’d share this little unique ramen place with you guys.
The restaurant is a casual one, with Japanese touches in the form of anime and manga characters. You see them on the walls and on the wooden shelves all over the place, alongside a bunch of lucky cats that wave in good luck and good business. I’m not quite sure how busy this place gets, but there weren’t many people when we arrived.
Their menu isn’t as extensive as a regular Japanese restaurant that kind of tries to serve you every Japanese classic in existence. That’s fine by me, as it gives me the impressions that they put more attention on the unique dishes they offer, as opposed to trying to be everything for everyone. That they would prefer to be known as that kureji ramen place with the unique experience.
So of course most of us went for the sizzling ramen.
Pulled Chashu Garlic Miso Sizzling Ramen (Php 380)
The sizzling ramen arrives in a piping hot stone bowl, with the soup… well, sizzling and bubbling in earnest. It came with a small stainless pitcher of extra soup. Curiously, it also came with a minute timer. The waiter told us to add the extra soup into the bowl once the sand in the timer runs out. Apparently, doing it this way adds flavor to the broth, as whatever is left boiling inside the stoneware will absorb this smoky flavor. Interesting.
What I did notice was that the soup visibly thickens after that one minute boil in the stone bowl, so adding in the soup helps to thin it out again. I guess this extra soup helps to balance out the concentrated rich flavors from that thickened soup too.
This Pulled Chashu Garlic Miso was my Dad’s order. I didn’t get to try it so I am just relying on his account, and all he could say was that the broth was super salty, especially towards the bottom of the bowl. He didn’t even finish the broth, although he ate up everything else. I’m not quite sure if he didn’t mix his broth after pouring in the extra soup, but the only thing I could get out of him was that it was VERY salty.
Miso Butter Ebi Furai Sizzling Ramen (Php 420)
This next one was my brother’s order. Miso corn butter ramen is a Sapporo specialty which I have enjoyed before, but since he has never been to Sapporo he wanted to give this a try.
According to him, the flavor of this ramen was nice, with an obvious buttery richness that wasn’t overwhelming. He wishes it was a bit richer and creamier though, because the broth almost feels like something you would get from an “instant” noodle, lacking in that oomph or depth he usually gets eating in other ramen places. But in the end, he still enjoyed the ramen. The fried shrimp tasted normal, but better dipped in sauce.
His biggest issue was actually that it was so hard to eat the ramen because it was so hot. It stays extra hot the entire time you eat it, which is actually the point of the sizzling ramen I’m sure. For some people who burn their tongues more easily than others, this will actually turn into a struggle. My brother made it clear to all of us that he was having a hard time lol.
Tomato Seafood Sizzling Ramen (Php 420)
Now we get to what I personally ate and experienced here in Kureji. I knew right from the start that this was the ramen I was going to order because it was the most unique sizzling ramen dish I spotted on the menu, plus it was spicy. And guess what, I loved it!
It has a broth that’s made with a mix of creamy tomato soup and kimchi. It’s the sort of thing my tastebuds enjoy—tangy, savory, just a bit sweet, with a good spicy kick. That spicy tomato-kimchi aftertaste is just sublime, and I love the way the soup coats the seafood and the noodles. I also love the bits of crunchy kimchi within.
That said, you have to be a real lover of tomato soup to enjoy this. If you don’t like tomato ketchup to begin with, it’s probable you won’t like this. It’s full on tomato with kimchi undertones. The serving is generous enough that I couldn’t finish the whole bowl on my own, so I gave some to my brothers and they also enjoyed this a lot. The flavor really jumps out at you.
As for the eating experience, ang init niya nga! It’s much hotter than a normal bowl of ramen, and you really have to blow on it before you eat it to not burn your tongue. We all have different tolerances for hot food and drinks, but let this be a fair warning as to how hot and sizzling this literally is.
Bento and Other Dishes
Aside from ramen dishes, Kureji also has some rice dishes available. The Sizzling Pork Chashu Rice (Php 320) reminds me of bibimbap, and it is recommended that you give it a mix immediately so that it heats up evenly. If you like tutong, you certainly will get that thanks to the stone bowl.
I tried a spoonful of this and my impression was that the rice had this sort of creamy mouthfeel to it, probably thanks to the egg. The taste was okay, though it didn’t leave as much of an impression as the Tomato Seafood Sizzling Ramen obviously.
They also have bento boxes, which my mother ordered. She thought it was just okay. I tried a bit of the korokke and thought it was very sticky and floury inside.
I honestly think Kureji is on to something interesting here. Amidst the novelty of it, the sizzling ramen concept may actually be a good idea. If you look at it against a slew of other ramen in a lineup, it would be something that stands out. Of course, with that comes a challenge: Does the ramen taste as good as the other ones despite its unique look?
For me, the biggest thing Kureji can work on is their consistency in terms of their product lineup. In my family alone, the comments were very polarizing. You can order the wrong thing and end up deciding you don’t want to come back here again, or you can order the right thing and end up having a good experience. That’s too much of a gap. And considering that some of the dishes here are not exactly cheap, it feels like a pricey risk.
Personally, I would come back again for the Tomato Seafood Sizzling Ramen. I really really like that dish! To be fair, I haven’t tried many of their other dishes, but taking into consideration the thoughts of my family after tasting their orders, it seems that Kureji still has to push a bit more to perfect their concept. It’s a work in progress. Personally, I think it is still worth a try if you’re curious.
Ang hirap bigyan ng rating nito. If I were to rate my personal enjoyment of my own order, which is the Tomato Seafood Sizzling Ramen, that dish alone I will give maybe an 8/10. I really liked it! But taking my family’s comments about what they had into consideration, I have to tone it down.
My rating: 6.5/10
Full disclosure: This post is NOT sponsored in any way and I received no compensation for writing this review. All opinions shared are my own unless otherwise stated.