June 20, 2024

If you want to savor authentic ramen (broth or soup with Japanese meat containing long strips of noodles made from flour, water, and egg) sometimes mixed with vegetables and egg, look no further.

Drop by this cozy restaurant located at Rancho Guillermo Building, North Drive called Agara Ramen. It is near Maybank at Engineer’s Hill.

Owned by a young couple, Ray and Keith Ann Costa, its mouth-watering ramen dishes will whet your cravings.

The couple explained that Agara Ramen comes from the Iloko word “agraraman” which from definitions “translates to a descriptive overtone, aimed at someone who is all-consuming or ma-feeling”, or according to Omeng Fallarme’s vlog a “feeling of comforting your ramen fixation.”

Ray elaborated that Agara Ramen connotes something positive in terms of satiating the appetite.

The resto offers a variety of ramen dishes like: karai miso (spicy miso ramen), chuka soba (OG of ramen), tonkotsu shio (salt-based pork broth), and tonkotsu shoyu, tantamen (spicy ramen), tsukemen and miso ramen (miso-based pork broth).

It also has extras like: shoyo tamago (soyed egg), nori (seaweed), chashu (braised pork belly, kaedama (extra noodles thin or thick) and side dishes like: gyoza (dumplings), wagyu cubes (Japanese beef), hirata bun (Japanese pork bun), karaage (fried chicken) and ebi tempura (shrimp tempura)

According to Mark Hamada, a gourmet connoisseur and a friend of the couple, the queue of customers, which includes noted personalities, easily doubles up towards lunch time.

In fact, Mark brought his entire family to relish Agara Ramen dishes. Even his aunt, Gloria Antoinette Hamada, the publisher of Baguio Midland Courier, who worked in Japan for a time was ecstatic about Agara Ramen’s authenticity.

“It’s like being in Japan. The noodles are homemade and freshly prepared every day. The broth taste is super delicious. Ingredients like eggs are imported,” she said.

Ray Costa explained the taste has something to do with the soft water that they use.

“Hard water is water with excess calcium and magnesium, while soft water is free from these harsh minerals that can damage your home and body. It is gentle, with calcium and magnesium removed through water softener systems,” he said.

Ray and Keith Ann are both nurses who digressed from their courses into the restaurant business. Ray graduated at Pines City Colleges while Keith Ann at University of Baguio.

Both are interested in adventure – travel, scuba diving, firing and underbone motorcycles.   

Keith Ann practiced her nursing profession for a while by working for three months at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center while Ray worked in Tokyo, Japan where his love for Japanese cuisine was nurtured.

At some point, they learned it was hard to mix career and business. They have three children namely: Yurika Ann, 13 years old; Rayne, 8; and Kyran Zedd, 7.

The couple’s Agara Ramen restaurant is manned by three very capable, efficient and friendly staff namely: Erich Nacionales, Michelle Villamil, and Gerald Tamondong.

Ray and Keith also own another resto-bar at General Luna Road called Publiquo which  offers Filipino cuisine.  

The history of the couple’s journey into the food business actually started with budget meals, then meals with liquor were offered. They  had El Costa and Bar at Nevada Square before. The pandemic had closed their resto for three months and after they offered DIY food but no prepared takeout food as the noodles become soggy.

For those interested, you may get in touch with them at 0945-103-9857, or at their Facebook  and Instagram accounts.

Business hours are from 11:30 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. from Monday to Thursday and 11:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. from Friday to Sunday. 

Ano pa hinihintay nyo? Mag-Agara Ramen na. (Photos by Mark Hamada)