It’s no surprise that Filipinos love Japanese cuisine. From the piping hot bowls of ramen to the freshest slices of sashimi or trains of sushi, there’s something about the cuisine that we can’t get enough of! We can blame that umami factor or the soothing feeling every time we sip a nice broth of miso soup. But whatever it is we always want the best Japanese joints to satisfy our cravings.
Last week we asked ShoppersGuide
readers their favorite Japanese restaurant and the results are in. Check the list below if your favorites made the list or if there’s a new Japanese place that you need to try ASAP!
4. MAISEN, MINAMI SAKI, and TOKYO TOKYO
Three restaurants tied at our number four and they are Maisen, Minami Saki, and Tokyo Tokyo.
Witness a true kendachi moment at Maisen.
may look like your typical high-end restaurant but it actually originated from the household of Chiyoko Koide in the ‘60s. Today, Maisen has vastly expanded in Japan, thanks to the Suntory Holdings, and now the Philippines get to enjoy it too with the help of Ben Chan (yes, the owner of Bench)! Maisen is known to specialize in Tonkatsu or deep-fried breaded pork. What makes them a stand out is their extremely light and flaky panko breading that beautifully coats their meat without the greasy feeling.
With every katsu that comes out of their kitchen, Maisen aims to give customers that kendachi experience wherein the panko bread crumbs blossom like a flower instead of falling flat. For starters one can try their Loin Katsu Set for that authentic tonkatsu moment. If you’re not a fan of meat, they also serve Seafood Katsu set where you get to try cream dory katsu, salmon katsu, and prawn katsu. Do watch out for their savory sauces, too, namely the Amakuchi (sweet sauce) and Karakuchi (spicy sauce) to complete your tonkatsu experience.
Watch out for this smoking coffee jelly when you dine at Minami Saki. (Image: Bing Villanueva (right))
Another contender on our fourth spot is Minami Saki
that can be found in the heart of Ortigas Business District. Minami Saki came from the minds of Chef Kimito Katagiri, an institution in the Japanese restaurant scene in the country and the man behind Ginza of Manila Hotel, Yanagi of Midas Hotel and Casino, and Inagiku of Shangri-La Makati.
Minami Saki is known for their down-to-earth interiors that also translate to their traditional Japanese dishes. Albeit traditional, their offerings will still wow you thanks to Chef Katagiri’s years of perfecting these dishes. One of their must-try is Aburi 5 Kinds, in which diners will be treated with five kinds of aburi sushi: Hamachi, salmon, tuna, eel, and lapu-lapu. The lightly seared sushis are topped with Chef Katagiri’s secret aburi sauce that will take you to sushi heaven. For those with a sweet tooth, watch out for their coffee jelly
Who could forget Tokyo Tokyo’s affordable bento meals?
Lastly, on our number four is Tokyo Tokyo
. The Japanese fast food restaurant brought the famed cuisine to the masses and has now been enjoyed by everyday Filipinos for over 30 years. From serving their usual bestsellers like beef misono, pork tonkatsu, and affordable bento meals, Tokyo Tokyo continues to surprise its diners by adding a Ramen Bar to their offerings. Even their line of donburi or rice bowl dishes is giving these big-time Japanese restaurants a run for their money.
Some of the newest offerings of Tokyo Tokyo are their Sriracha Donburi, their new line of Wagyu Burgers
, and Chicken-Nomiyaki, a combination of their Chicken katsu and Okonomiyaki. And don’t forget to take advantage of their unlimited rice and their famous Red Iced Tea!
3. ASAKUSA: HOME OF TEMPURA, FUKUYA JAPANESE RESTAURANT, and NADAI FUJISOBA
On our top three, Asakusa: Home of Tempura, Fukuya Japanese Restaurant, and Nadai Fujisoba made the list.
Level up your tempura game at Asakusa: Home of Tempura.
Asakusa: Home of Tempura
is another homegrown Japanese restaurant from the husband and wife tandem of Jacob and Celline Bautista and their friend Rolf Madrid. The trio found a humble tempura shop in Asakusa, Japan that led them to fall in love with the dish. Jacob even studied alongside the owners of the tempura shop who also happened to be a husband and wife team.
The trio opened their first restaurant in The Grove Retail Row in Pasig in 2015 and has been creating a huge following since then. Diners can select any of their sets so one can experience a variety of tempura in one order. They have Black Tiger Prawn tempura for serious tempura lovers but they also have vegetable tempura like shitake mushrooms, eggplant, squash, and French beans for vegans. Don’t worry; they also serve other items other than tempura like gyoza, salmon maki, and chicken karaage teriyaki.
Go down memory lane when you dine at Fukuya Japanese Restaurant.
Also on our number three is Fukuya Japanese Restaurant in Muntinlupa City. Fukuya opened way back in 1995 and is now considered as an institution in affordable Japanese dining. Aside from the cheap prices, diners also enjoy the fast and efficient style of service. One can have their order and pay at the counters and once ready, the food will be served directly to their seats.
Some of the favorites in Fukuya include their Shoyu Ramen, Tempura Soba, and Gyoza. If you’re craving for a simple and traditional Japanese food minus the drama and the price tag, pay Fukuya a worthy visit.
Tired of the ramen craze? Go on a soba hunt at Nadai Fujisoba!
The last contender on our third spot is Nadai Fujisoba
. Operating since 1966, Nadai Fujisoba started in Shibuya, Japan and only has two international branches: Taiwan and the Philippines. If you’re looking for a hot bowl of ramen, this is not the place to be as they specialize in Soba (thin noodles made of buckwheat) and Udon (thick noodles made of wheat flour). But despite their non-ramen menu, people are still drooling over their special noodles that can be served either hot or cold and within a reasonable price.
Some of Nadai Fujisoba’s must-tries include Hiyashi Kitsune Udon and Ko-Ebi Kakiage Ten Soba. Aside from their bowls of soba and udon, they also have Donburi rice bowls and a wide range of Tempura to fill you up.
2. YABU: THE HOUSE OF KATSU
Go on a katsu, rice, and cabbage overload at Yabu: The House of Katsu.
The Japanese restaurant that claimed our top two spot is Yabu: The House of Katsu
. As their name implies, Yabu claims to serve the best katsu in town by using Kurobuta or black Berkshire pig. The black Berkshire pig is known to be the world’s finest pork and is often compared to kobe beef, one of the best kinds of beef in the world. Yabu also makes sure to only use the freshest panko breading to cover this precious meat and cook it using canola oil to maintain its crispiness and flavor.
To experience a real katsu moment at Yabu, one must try their Kurobuta premium set that comes with unlimited rice and unlimited cabbage, plus miso soup, Japanese pickles and a bowl of fruit. You can also pick a Rosu (porkloin) or Hire (tenderloin) set according to your preference. They also serve chicken and seafood katsu, and some in menchi (minced meat) or covered with curry.
The best Japanese restaurant in the country goes to Ippudo!
The best Japanese restaurant on our list goes to Ippudo
. Ippudo started in Fukuoka, Japan in 1985 and has since expanded in various parts of the country and around the globe. When Ippudo opened its first store in the Philippines in 2014, its choices of savory ramen took foodies by storm. It has remained as one of the top places when one craves for a hot bowl of this magical noodle soup.
Ippudo’s ramen stands out from the rest because of its tonkotsu or pork bones-based broth that is simmered for many hours. Their menu consists of three ramen choices: the Shiromaru Motoaji (basic ramen), Akamaru Shinaji (ramen with miso paste and garlic oil), and the Karaka-men (ramen with spicy miso with ground pork and garlic oil). But aside from these heavenly broths, they also serve rice dishes, gyozas, and buns to satisfy your Japanese cravings.
Are you ready for some Japanese food trip with your buddies? Let us know in the comments section below which of these restaurants you’re trying first!
Results are based on the Top 10 Best Japanese Restaurants in Metro Manila Poll posted at the home page of ShoppersGuide.com.ph from June 19 to June 25, 2017.
Click the store name links to see their exact addresses, contact numbers, and map location.
Images are from the official websites and Facebook pages of featured stores.