Monday, December 21, 2020

Dining in the Next Normal: Comforting Noodles and a Cold Beer on a Cloudy Afternoon at Menya Kokoro

Cloudy afternoons call for a cold beer. And comforting mazesoba...

Dining out under the General Community Quarantine is both different and the same, with the mandatory health and safety protocols in place. But an ice-cold bottle of beer and a hearty bowl of mazesoba on a cloudy afternoon still hits the spot even in this new normal. Menya Kokoro has adapted to the times implementing all the necessary steps from physical distancing to temperature scans and contact tracing so loyal customers can once again enjoy a bowl of their specialty noodles. One of the first to offer D-I-Y Kits of their signature Tokyo Mazesoba and Black Garlic Ramen during the quarantine (more on my previous post, Dining in the Next Normal: Unboxing Menya Kokoro's New D-I-Y Tokyo Mazesoba and Black Garlic Ramen Kits on the innovative ramen kits and my quarantine round-up of fresh noodle picks on my post at Dining in the Next Normal: Let's Talk Noodles...), Menya Kokoro ends the year with new additions on the menu like the Unagi Mazesoba. Read on for a sneak peek at Menya Kokoro's all-time favorites and new offerings...

Since it opened back in the middle of last year, Menya Kokoro has been making waves with its specialty dry ramen or ramen without the usual broth known as the Tokyo Mazesoba (see my post, #TokyosNumberOneMazesoba: Prepare for a New Ramen Experience by Menya Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba from the launch last 2019 and the simple joys of noodles on a rainy day at Mazesoba on a Cloudy Day at Menya Kokoro Tokyo Mazesoba also from last year). Everything seemed to be on track until the global pandemic and life it seems, paused for pretty much the entire 2020. As the year comes to a close, restrictions are gradually eased as the transition to the new normal becomes part of the daily routine. Coming back to Menya Kokoro on a cloudy afternoon is reason enough to celebrate with an ice-cold bottle of Kirin Ichiban Beer (P 150)...

...or if you prefer something deceptively light, sweet and fruity with a potent punch, the Suntory Strong Zero (P 220) in Grape, Bitter Lemon, Grapefruit, Dry Peach, Plum, Lemon, Lime, Apple and Pineapple will get you in the zone with its 9% alcohol content for a cool buzz. 

And when you're enjoying an ice-cold bottle of Kirin Ichiban Beer or Suntory Strong Zero canned cocktails, why not pair it with some of Menya Kokoro's light and hearty side dishes like their Yakitori selection?

The Yakitori Pork (P 60/pc) offers savory flavors with a mildly sweet hint from the glaze that's perfectly finished by the fresh off-the-grill smoky notes. The richness of the pork is tempered by the sharpness of the fresh and crisp scallions. 

You can also enjoy the day's freshest catch on a skewer with the Yakitori Prawn (P 60/pc) with its fresh briny sweetness and mild smoky hints from the grill enhanced by the sharp notes and crisp texture of fresh leeks. Menya Kokoro also offers the Yakitori Wagyu Beef (P 150/pc) if you prefer some melt-in-your-mouth beefy flavors. 

The Yakitori Chicken (P 60/pc) with tender and juicy chicken draped in a sweet glaze offers light yet delicately balanced notes, with each bite releasing even more flavors that's perfectly washed down by the cold Kirin Ichiban Beer. Or Suntory Strong Zero. 

A squeeze of lemon just opens up the flavorful and juicy notes of the Karaage (P 200) with juicy chicken capped by a lightly crisp outer layer for textural contrast. The Japanese style crisp and juicy fried chicken pairs well with beer. Even better on a cloudy day in this new normal.

Enjoy traditional Japanese flavors with Menya Kokoro's savory Gyoza Original (P 190-5 pcs/P 125-3 pcs), soft pork dumplings with a lightly seared bottom drizzled with soy-based sauce. 

Topped with fresh scallions adding another layer of flavor, the Gyoza Original by Menya Kokoro drapes the palate with a savory richness and you'll want another. The contrasting texture with its lightly crisp bottom adds to that familiar mouthfeel. 

Another round of Kirin Ichiban Beer or Suntory Strong Zero calls for another order of Aburi Chashu Platter (P 190) with tender cubes of torched pork for that smoky finish served with refreshing bamboo shoots sprinkled with sesame seeds...

...or why not a bowl of Sukiyaki (P 280) with thinly sliced strips of melt-in-your-mouth beef and fresh vegetables in a mildly sweet stew? Each bowl delivers contrasting flavors and textures from the premium beef, crisp garden fresh vegetables and glass noodles. 

The side dishes are perfect with a few rounds of beer, but like any tipple, an appetite for more hits. And you're in the right place with Menya Kokoro's comforting noodle dishes...

The Unagi Mazesoba (P 580) is Menya Kokoro's latest mazesoba creation with smooth and mildly chewy soba noodles drizzled with a blend of flavorful and richly seasoned oil topped with soft-boiled egg and vegetables and grilled unagi or Japanese freshwater eel. The different variants of mazesoba at Menya Kokoro are all rich with flavors, but the Unagi Masezoba takes it a notch higher with the addition of the famed Japanese delicacy. 

The fatty freshwater eel is juicy delivering a fresh burst of distinct sweet notes that elevates the already rich mazesoba with its intense flavors. It's a tasty alternative to the usual pork mazesoba, yet it delivers the same savory richness with a sweet finish. And as you near the bottom of the bowl where the flavors are concentrated, add some rice and kombu vinegar and enjoy the last few strips of sweet unagi. Love unagi? Then this is, hands down, the perfect bowl of mazesoba for you.

The Unagi Mazesoba is an excellent addition to Menya Kokoro's menu, perfect for cloudy days in this new normal. Then, there's Menya Kokoro's other popular mazesoba variants like the Zenbu Mazesoba (P 470) with cubes of slow-braised chashu, savory and spicy minced pork, grinded saba fish, soft-boiled and poached egg, green onions and seaweed...

...and the refreshing Yuzu Hiyashi Chuka Chasu (P 360), a cold noodle ramen topped with slabs of pork, poached egg and fresh vegetables in a light broth infused with the vibrant and zesty citrus notes from the yuzu for another tasty noodle option at Menya Kokoro. The rich savory notes from the double punch of pork with the Zenbu Mazesoba or the light yet equally rich citrus-infused flavors of the Yuzu Hiyashi Chuka Chasu, your options at Menya Kokoro are wide and varied to suit your mood and craving. 

If the cloudy afternoon triggers an appetite something spicy, the fiery bright orange Tantan Ramen (P 430) should do the trick. I've enjoyed this ramen from Menya Kokoro a number of times before, and the lingering yet soothing heat lays down a comforting hug on the palate. But it's really not just the spice that warms the body, it's the richly layered flavors from the different ingredients that combine for a satisfying ramen experience. 

Then, there's the original Tokyo Mazesoba (P 350 Regular/P 250 Lite), the one that made Menya Kokoro #TokyosNumberOneMazesoba with its toppings of savory minced pork, garlic, seaweed, scallions and poached egg on soft and chewy soba noodles draped in a blend of richly seasoned oil...

Enjoying a bowl starts with mixing all the different ingredients and savoring each noodle all the way to the bottom of the bowl before adding rice and kombu vinegar to soak up the concentrated flavors for a satisfying meal. Mix, slurp and enjoy. And on a cloudy day, it just seems so right. You can also order Menya Kokoro's D-I-Y Kits for pick-up, take-out and delivery and enjoy an authentic ramen and mazesoba feast in the comfort of home as an added option. 

Things may have changed with the quarantine experience, but a bowl of comforting noodles like the mazesoba at Menya Kokoro still hits the spot in this new normal. 

For more information on the new D-I-Y Kits and updates on Menya Kokoro, visit and order via their website at or FB Page at

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