Saturday, June 17, 2017

Traditionally Tadakuma

                                                           "Traditionally Tadakuma"
Sun.Star Davao, June 17, 2017

When it comes to our culinary escapades, nothing gives more joy to our family than a piping hot bowl of ramen. There is just this indescribable feeling of warmth and nostalgia when we bite into the noodles and savor the soothing broth.

One of our family’s personal favorites in Davao is the ramen served at Tadakuma Japanese Restaurant. From the Ramen Tei near the old Davao airport to its various locations, you would surely find our family gathered there for a meal on a regular basis.

Beef Ramen

Last week, I was finally able to meet the man behind Tadakuma, Manuel “Manny” Joaquin, as he visited one of his franchise locations along Carlos Villa-Abrille Avenue (formerly Tulip Drive) in Matina.

Tadakuma Ramen Tei Carlos Villa-Abrille Branch (formerly Tulip Drive) in Matina, Davao City

Over sparkling sake with franchisee George Cang Jr., I learned that Mr. Manny came to Davao from Japan when he was 13 years old. Born in Yokohama, he studied at the Ateneo de Davao where he started as a grade one student. “I did not know how to speak English or Filipino then so I had to learn from scratch”, he recalls.

Tadakuma Japanese Restaurant founder Manny Joaquin 
with Tadakuma Ramen Tei Matina (Carlos Villa-Abrille Ave.) branch franchisee George Cang Jr.

Traditional Japanese

He describes the food at Tadakuma as traditional Japanese. “We really don’t do fusion here. However, we are quite flexible when it comes to satisfying the customer’s preference. You can personalize, mix and create your own soup stock and choose which kind of noodles (udon, soba or ramen) you like”, Mr. Manny shares.

Miso Ramen

The fishing aficionado guarantees that Tadakuma only uses the freshest ingredients. “We start preparing our dishes once you order them; from the slicing of the meat and vegetables, and cooking of the noodles. That’s why we recommend that customers do not pre-order if other members of the group are not around yet. Ramen must be eaten within 5 minutes after it is served. Otherwise, the noodles will become soggy”, he points out.

George, who has been a Ramen Tei/Tadakuma loyal customer since his college days, discloses that franchising Tadakuma was something that he and his co-franchisees were very pleased with. “Manny does not treat us as franchisees but as business partners. He is very hands-on when it comes to suggesting how the restaurant should look like, particularly the kitchen. He would also field his trusted staff to the branches so that franchisees will have seasoned personnel who can efficiently support the operations”, George reveals.

SEASONED STAFF. Mr. Manny fields his trusted staff to the branches so that franchisees will have seasoned personnel who can efficiently support the operations. Emma, for example, has been with Tadakuma for 17 years.

The young businessman says that Mr. Manny supplies the ‘secret’ sauces and handmade noodles from his commissary. “As for the rest of the ingredients, we have the freedom to choose our suppliers as long as it passes Tadakuma’s high standards”.


Mr. Manny is likewise open to the idea of franchisees introducing their own dishes. For instance, the Tadakuma Matina (Carlos Villa-Abrille Ave.) branch began serving the Wagyu Beef Cubes, Scallop Sushi and Saba Mackerel Sushi after earning the thumbs up of the founder.

Wagyu Cubes

Scallop Sushi
          For franchisees, Mr. Manny has this basic requirement, “If you don’t know how to cook, at least, know the taste”. Fortunately, George, the franchisee, knows both very well as he loves to experiment in the kitchen and go on gastronomic adventures.

George likens the ramen of Tadakuma to that of Tokyo’s ramen which has a bolder and stronger taste. “Here at Tadakuma, an order of ramen is more than enough for one person. Our broth is boiled on low fire the whole day and we never re-use it the following day. On the other hand, the vegetables are cooked using high pressure so that they remain crisp”, he adds.

Miso Ramen

Of course, aside from their bestselling ramen, Tadakuma also offers an array of well-loved Japanese food such as Gyudon, Sushi, Katsu Curry, Katsudon, Sukiyaki, among others.

Chirashi Sushi


Katsu Curry



        At the age of 70, Mr. Manny is finally going to retire soon as his Manila-based daughter is set to return to Davao to take over Tadakuma’s family-owned branch and commissary for franchisees.
       And, certainly, customer satisfaction in his traditionally Tadakuma way will be on top of his list as he passes on his chef’s hat to the next generation.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio at the Tadakuma Carlos Villa-Abrille Branch
With PNP Chief Ronaldo "Bato" Dela Rosa at the Tadakuma Carlos Villa-Abrille branch

Happy tummies

(From left) Jimjim Carreon, Engr. Richard Hong, Arthur Uy and George Cang, Jr.
Tadakuma Ramen Tei Matina branch is located along Carlos Villa-Abrille Avenue (formerly Tulip Drive), Matina, Davao City. It is open from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. daily. For reservations, please call (082) 3275285 or 2868188.

E-mail the author at Visit

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Breathtaking Balesin

 “Breathtaking Balesin”
Sun.Star Davao, June 3, 2017

Situated off the eastern coast of Luzon lies Balesin Island Club, a 500-hectare tropical paradise with seven themed villages that makes you feel that you have vacationed in Europe and Asia in just one stay.

For two days, we got to experience this luxurious members-only resort as a treat when my first cousin Fred celebrated his 50th birthday there recently with family and close friends.

Just a 25-minute plane ride from Manila, we were warmly welcomed by the friendly staff with lovely leis and sweet mango juice upon our arrival. After a short briefing, we were whisked off to the clubhouse where we leisurely enjoyed our Filipino lunch while waiting for our check-in time.

My cousin booked our family at the Balesin Villa because of its accessibility to the clubhouse, beachfront and other facilities. And, it turned out to be a wonderful choice with its indigenous architecture and design. The spacious villa included an outdoor and indoor shower, jacuzzi, deck and other modern amenities guaranteed to make guests extra comfortable.

The afternoon was getting warmer, making the kids restless. No problemo! A visit to Mykonos Village cooled them off as they swam in the refreshing pool which had a shaded part if the sun gets too hot to handle and an open area with a breathtaking view of the white and blue Cycladic cubic architecture ala the famous houses of Mykonos and Santorini in Greece.

After an hour of swimming, we moved to St. Tropez to catch the enchanting sunset while taking in the French Riviera vibe. The colorful rooms with individual balconies facing the expansive pool and the Pacific Ocean were inspired by the iconic Hotel Byblos, a spellbinding backdrop for our family photos.

For dinner, my cousin Fred’s birthday fete was exclusively set up at the Balesin Sala. That night, we also celebrated my cousin Lyn’s natal day. These two people are very dear to me because I stayed with them during my college years in Manila and are almost like my siblings.

The hearty buffet spread consisted of Costa del Sol’s Spanish signature dishes such as Sopa de Ajo, Cochinillo, Paella Valenciana, Croquetas, Lengua Estofada, Bacalao ala Vizcaina, Albondigas en Salsa, and for dessert, Canonigo and Tocino del Cielo. While dining, an acoustic band serenaded us with timeless and contemporary songs.

The following morning, we joined a jeepney tour to take us to all of the island’s themed villages. Aside from Balesin (Philippines), Mykonos (Greece) and St. Tropez (France), we were captivated by Bali (Indonesia), Phuket (Thailand), Costa del Sol (Spain), and Toscana (Italy) where we relished our mouthwatering pizza and pasta for lunch.


No stone was left unturned by Balesin Island Club’s developer, Alphaland Corporation, as it ensured that each village appeared and felt authentic from the architecture, interior design and food served at the specialty restaurants and bars.

During the fascinating tour, we also explored the Balesin Royal Villa, Balesin Spa, Aegle Wellness Center, Rico’s Hideaway, Seafood Shack, among many others.



In the afternoon, another surprise treat awaited our group as we boarded M/Y Obsessions, a 130-foot super yacht, for our sunset cruise. The vessel’s elegant interiors were designed by Ann Van Der Kamp and Diaship, and the materials used were from the house of Gianni Versace, no less!

At the sun deck, we savored the tasty canapes while we sat back and marveled at the stunning ocean view. As the sun set, family and friends raised their wine glasses and gave a heartwarming toast to the well-loved birthday boy.

Cheers to you, Ahia Fred, on your 50th birthday! Thank you for your kind and generous heart, and for always putting family first!

E-mail the author at Visit