A Koreantown in Angeles City? We’re probably too used to the concept of Chinatown that this idea seemed like a novel concept. Driving along the stretch of Friendship Highway, we passed a strip of establishments sporting signages in Korean with no English translations. Which ones are restaurants, it’s hard to tell. But for a taste of kimchi (the best one here for miles, so says our guide-friend, Tin, from the Angeles City tourism office), we bypassed Koreantown and headed to Balibago for Yu Fu In.
The restaurant is located in a sizable structure located across the town park. We later learned that it is in fact, the largest freestanding Japanese restaurant in the Philippines with a dining area spread across three stories — the main dining area on the ground floor, a Yakiniku area complete with the requisite stove and exhaust fan on every table on the second, and an open air area on the third. It’s a strange curiosity to find kimchi in a Japanese restaurant but as we taste the food, we find there’s more to like there.
Lagal[og] says: I didn’t expect to find good kimchi here but it is really tasty, not just spicy. A good way to kickstart the meal, I guess.
Ironwulf says: I heard the kimchi has 25 ingredients. I didn’t attempt to ask what they are but the taste does attest to it. Going back to the Japanese goodies, we had the Zaru Soba Cold Noodle set. What I really like about Japanese dishes is how well presented they are, so much so that it’s hard to deconstruct them for eating. The cold noodle was placed on a small bamboo container (zaru means basket) and it comes with a dipping sauce (a mixture of dashi, sugar, soy sauce), spring onions and wasabi. Accompanying the dish was the Origiri Shake (Salmon Rice Balls). I like how the cold noodle was firm and isn’t slimy. The dipping sauce adds a rousing sweet and subtle saltiness with a tinge of spice from the wasabi. The Origiri Shake was surprisingly tasty especially with the flavorful salmon inside. Sure was a cold delight on an otherwise warm afternoon.
Lagal[og] says: For our starters, we ordered the Negi Ramen by accident. And what a happy accident is was, as the broth was very flavorful and satisfying without being overly spicy. The ramen is firm and cooked just right and there was a merry mingling of Nori, pepper, garlic, and meat with the green onions.
Ironwulf says: We also tried the Korroke Set, which is the Japanese version of French croquette. The Korroke was evenly fried and crisp on its breaded outer layer. The potatoes mixed with ground beef and vegetables was relatively moist and well mashed. It was real tasty albeit heavy.
Lagal[og] says: I’m not a big sushi and sashimi eater but the Salmon Sashimi was very good. But I guess the most memorable item I tasted here was the Buta Shogayaki (Ginger Pork). There were hints of the flavors of ginger as well as mirin and shoyu that revealed themselves with every bite of the tender pork. The sauce can be quite addicting, I was tempted to pour the leftover sauce on my rice.
Ironwulf says: We also had the Gyu Sara (Beef), the beef was tender but the flavor was a bit ordinary. Maybe because it was overshadowed by the tasty Buta Shogayaki sauce that we tried dipping every viand into the sauce until it was wiped out.
Lagal[og] says: We heard there’s a lunch set that offers good value for money at P158. Hmmm, will keep that in mind next time we drop by. We also had quite a sampling of food that we defer tasting the Yakiniku (served only during the evenings on the second floor dining area) for a later visit.
Yu Fu In
Yakiniku & Japanese Restaurant
First Street, Balibago, Angeles City
Tel. (045) 625-5537