Ever heard of Restaurant Makeover? It’s a show in the same vein as Kitchen Nightmares (though not as shouty) or Restaurant: Impossible (though not as cheesy). I used to watch this in the Asian Food Channel (AFC anyone?) but oddly enough, I can only remember one episode. That episode, I’m reminded of when I tried Noodles Nation.

FoodMetroManila on a Noodle tear!

That episode involved a restaurant that planned a concept that we pretty interesting: ‘Wings of the World’. Think buffalo wings but with other variants, based on flavors from different dishes around the world. I think I saw Japanese, Thai, Russian (with a Beet sauce, and I think they liked it!).

Now this ‘Wings of the World’ concept stuck to me because they didn’t include anything Filipino. And I’m not talking about just putting together Chicken Adobo wings and calling it a day kind of Filipino Wing. No, I was thinking more a Kare-Kare wing or a Bicol Express wing. I even toyed around with the idea of doing that myself, until I realized I was too lazy to start a business at that point in my life (or I had no money to invest as capital in a business).

FoodMetroManila in Noodles Nation Gateway
They have a display of Asian Noodles in another shelf.
FoodMetroManila Noodles Nation Filipino Noods
Does it still shock you that I eat several dishes in one visit?

Where there used to be a Quiznos, now stands an interesting QSR: Noodles Nation. It’s interesting because not only do they sell their versions of Miso Ramen or Pad Thai, but they also sell noodles based on Filipino dishes.

Ask them what their specialties are, they will always sell the Miso Ramen, the Balik Bayan (Sisig Spaghetti), or the Pad Thai (named Pa-Thai For You, more about this later). But what really caught my eye, was Kare-Less Whisper (hold your eye rolls until the end) that was proudly flying the Philippine Flag – haven’t heard about that before Noodles Nation.

FoodMetroManila goes noodle hunting

FoodMetroManila warding off vampires with Noodles Nation
That is a lot of garlic. Pa-Thai (sorry, couldn’t help it)

The Ramen broth, at least for the Miso Ramen that I’ve eaten twice, is flavorful and thick. They add a generous amount of noodles in there and, oddly enough, a piece of chicken in teriyaki sauce. It’s good chicken – tender, the sauce slightly smoky and sweet – but it does not go with the ramen. You can opt to add a boiled egg to your ramen but it will cost you an extra Php 20.

FoodMetroManila eating noodles again
Filipino Noods

FoodMetroManila Noods

Balik-Bayan was okay, savory with a little kick, smells good to boot. But I have a feeling the Sisig came from a can. I did not confirm this with Noodles Nation so don’t take my word for it, try it yourself. The Pad Thai, I haven’t really had Pad Thai before but I’ve read about it. Their version had a subtle sourness to it, a tad sweet, and peanuty. Nothing really overpowered anything, I mean it’s okay but I won’t say it’s authentic Pad Thai (because I can’t). The Noods (#noods) were a bit chewy though.

What I absolutely loved though, like I was really happy eating eat, was the Kare-Kare spaghetti. Generous amount of thick Kare-Kare sauce mixed with al dente spaghetti noodles, topped with some chopped veg and about a teaspoon of bagoong. It is good!

FoodMetroManila is it sacrilegious to put carrots in Kare-Kare?
Is it ever possible to change the veg that goes with this?
FoodMetroManila there is bagoong in my spaghetti
Legit bagoong is on top

The bagoong they used is not the sweet version you often get, it’s salty but has a slight bitter aftertaste. It complements the bit of sweetness coming from the sauce. It doesn’t have any meat as toppings and the veg, oddly, aren’t anything you’ll see in Kare-Kare. Who puts carrots in Kare-Kare? I would think a couple of slices of grilled eggplant will do. String beans and ‘puso ng saging’ might be stretching it. But that’s just nitpicking; this is a good spaghetti dish.

Ruminations (hey!)

I, personally, don’t like the gimmicky names but I can’t think of how else they can call them without sounding boring. I guess you gotta do something to stick out, to register in the customer’s memories. So instead of having nothing, I’d take the gimmick. I guess I’m just too old for that so don’t mind me.

FoodMetroManila Noodles Nation #foodmetromanila
Look carefully at this sisig and tell me what you think

The Kare-Less Whisper then (oh God) was not necessarily a home run, more like an exciting triple. It could be more. The Miso Ramen I’ve had a couple of times and liked as well. Pa-Thai For You (sigh) was delicious. Balik-Bayan (TBH I can’t quite get why it’s called that), not bad but a tad overpriced based on my unconfirmed guess of its main ingredient.

You can’t take these inside the cinema (even if you can, please don’t) but you could sit down before a movie or after, if you watched something longer than Endgame thus jonesing for a bowl of ramen. But seriously, give the Kare-Less Whisper (God, I’ll have to write that on IG) a try.

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