What do ramen fans in Manila do now that everybody’s favorite Erra’s Ramen on Adriatico caught fire last January 7?
Well, a Facebook post about a Korean ramen place on Taft Avenue went viral, informing ramen-lovers like me that not all is lost in the Manila district.
Rumor has it Gokain on Taft boasts of box-office status, dealing with kilometric lines of hungry people on a daily basis. Knowing that long lines are a testament to good food, we decided to get our fill. Savvy diners that we are, we decided to try it out at 4pm on a Thursday, one of the safest times to try the place.
Alas. A long line of university students welcomed us, snaking from one corner of the University Mall to the next. We gamely waited anyway, noticing there were a number of people dropping out of the line during the wait. After three long purgatorial hours, we got in expecting to taste the most delicious ramen ever.
Gokain Bistro is a Korean restaurant established October 2016 located at the University Mall in Taft. It is owned by Mun, young-jun.
The name came from “Go Kain” which means “Let’s Eat.” The server said, it was originally named “Kokain” which means “Korean Kain” but it sounded too much like cocaine, so you know, with the war on drugs and everythaang, the building management didn’t allow them.
The restaurant is not too spacious—it can cater to about 10 groups of people at a time. It also has it’s Korean street vibe with its interior which makes it more interesting and Instagram-worthy.
Though, we were sold with the P99-Ramyeon with unlimited Kimchi and Korean Pickles to boot, I find the menu a little bit pricey especially for students.
It’s a short menu, with not a lot of options but given that they have famous Korean dishes like Bulgogi, Ramyeon and Bibimbap, and the fact that they have Korean chefs, we knew it was something we needed to try, at the very least. (They also sell our favorite Korean ice creams!)
We ordered the Ramyeon and Bibimbap. Their Ramyeon has its signature Korean spiciness, but why does it taste like instant ramen anybody can buy from a Korean convenience store? Disappointing.
The Bibimpap on the other hand, lacks the freshness of the veggies and didn’t have so much meat in it.
Also: Is asking for proper food presentation too much? Both dishes looked like they were rushed out of the kitchen. They were not appealing enough—or actually, they look nothing like what’s advertised on their Facebook page.
The only thing I enjoyed eating at Gokain is their Kimchi and Korean Pickles, which tasted authentic.
All the others? Meh.
Verdict: Everybody knows long lines are proof of the pudding. After Gokain, we learned that there are exceptions to the rule. Gokain is one such exemption. We’re thinking maybe it’s our fault, relying on the viral post, too much.We’re thinking maybe it’s the ugly food presentation. We’re thinking maybe it’s the four-hour wait that dictated our expectations.
But we’re also thinking, even without a four-hour wait, we’d still expect Gokain to serve Ramyeon better than the one I bought at my favorite Korean Convenience store last week—which was what that Gokain Ramyeon reminded me of. Sigh. We’re very disappointed.
Gokain Bistro, 2/F, University Mall, Taft Avenue, Manila. +63995 432 0375. 10am-9pm.
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