Tag: Japanese

Angeles Foodtripping: Finding Kimchi and Sashimi at Yu Fu In

Yu Fu In's 25 spices Kimchi
Yu Fu In's 25 spices Kimchi

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.

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Casual Japanese Dining at Pasta de Waraku

Smoked Duck with Sweet Chili Sauce
Smoked Duck with Sweet Chili Sauce

I have only a few expectations when it comes to airport food.  But lately, some good restaurants have located their branches in terminals making people in transit  like us have better choices when it comes to food. When we arrived in Changi Airport in Singapore, the group ate at Pasta de Waraku, a Casual Japanese Pasta and Cafe Restaurant. Waraku in Japanese means “Peace and Harmony” and seeing the warm interiors, nicely-decorated walls filled up with patterns of their plated dishes and a welcoming staff, I was already looking forward to enjoy their meals.

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Nama Sakana spells Japanese fusion

Nama Sakana Beef Tebanyaki (P800)
Nama Sakana Beef Tebanyaki (P800)

Truth is, there is no shortage of Japanese-themed restaurants here. Some are more authentic than the others, some far removed from their Japanese roots. Which begs the question: is there really space for a new one? The people behind Nama Sakana believe that with their fusion cuisine, there is always room.

But first things first – what’s in a name?  Nama Sakana is Nihongo for “raw fish”, an apt name for the restaurant has an extensive sushi bar. But as happyfoodies found out, this upscale Japanese restaurant has more than sushi to offer.  Talk about Nobu-style Japanese fushion cuisine where traditional Japanese fare is tweaked to offer the diner a tasty twist on their favorites. Chef Rolly, who has worked for Nobu London for more than a decade, does a fine balancing act in coming up with Japanese food that tastes familiar and yet offers something new for the taste buds.

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Sumptuous dining at Seryna

Seryna Spicy Tuna Maki (Php 170/ 6pcs)
Seryna Spicy Tuna Maki (Php 170/ 6pcs)

We venture to Mile Long and Makati Cinema Square every now and then and pass the small road leading to Makati Square. We often see the SERYNA signage flanking the side entrance to the Little Tokyo complex and wonder what’s inside. Not that the place has received little media publicity but we always wanted to sample what’s been written about and what the steady stream of diners (evidenced by the endless flow of cars parked on the strip) has been dropping by for. Last weekend, we got a chance to do just that when a trip to another restaurant didn’t go as planned.

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Ramen overload at Shinjuku

Shinjuku Gekikara Ramen (Php 345)
Gekikara Ramen (Reg - Php 250, Large - Php 345)

Being named after one of the special wards of Tokyo, Shinjuku Ramen House has some big shoes to fill. But this virtual institution in the restaurant front is more than capable of meeting big expectations and big appetites. I remembered eating at their rather non-descript branch in Makati Avenue years back and know from memory how good the food was.

Their other Makati branch was also rather old and non-descript until it got a major renovation some months back. As part of the Little Tokyo complex, it gets immediate attention from passersby since it is located along the busy thoroughfare of Pasong Tamo, at the much-coveted corner where one turns before heading off to Makati Cinema Square. At certain times of the day, the parking lot is full and the restaurant plays host to a mixed clientele eager to taste their authentic ramen and other Japanese fare.

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Turning Japanese at Banzai

Banzai Chicken Yakitori Bento (Php 95)
Banzai Chicken Yakitori Bento (Php 95)

The food court of a mall is normally NOT the place to look for decent Japanese food.  Almost always, the “food court pricing” automatically means that the food outlet would scrimp on ingredients or cut corners, ergo less satisfying Japanese fare.  But happily, we found an exception and it was literally right under our noses – Banzai Japanese Kitchen in the food court of Cash & Carry Mall.

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Authentic Yakiniku at Urashemi-ya Restaurant

Yakiniku, grilling meat, Japanese Style
Yakiniku, grilling meat, Japanese-Style

Yakiniku is Japanese for “grilled meat”.  Beef, pork and offal (entrails, internal organs) slices are cooked over coal (traditional), gas or electric (modern) grill and served with a soy-sauce-based dip. Yakiniku traces its origins to Korea but is different from Korean fare such as bulgogi as the customers themselves grill the meat.

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