It takes years and years for sushi chefs to complete their rigorous training in Japan. It may not seem like it to us, but the art of making sushi is actually a complicated one that requires deft hands and solid dedication. Just think about that the next time you pop sushi into your mouth! There’s a lot more to appreciate about the Japanese cuisine and the best way to start is by trying out the dishes that comprise it.
There’s no shortage when it comes to the number of Japanese restaurants we can dine in in Metro Manila. But according to looloo reviewers, these are the ten places that stood out last year. Read on to find out which ones garnered the most stars and rave reviews in 2015!
10. Izakaya Nihonbashitei
After a rough day, there’s nothing quite as comforting as singing your favorite “birit” song, downing a couple of drinks, and feasting on bowls of Japanese food. Which makes Izakaya Nihonbashitei the perfect hangout place for you and your co-workers. With branches strategically located along bustling streets, you’ll find a lot of your fellow working people de-stressing here.
To fire up your tastebuds, get their Spicy Toro Maki or Sashimi. For your main course, you could get their popular Beef Teppanyaki Set. This gives you a shareable helping of thinly-sliced, stir-fried beef mixed in with vegetables and served with steaming hot rice.
Izakaya Nihonbashitei can be found at these locations.
9. Ogetsu Hime
As said by April H. in her looloo review, Ogetsu Hime is probably one of the most underrated Japanese restaurants in Manila. And lucky are those who have discovered it early on because it’s a great find. According to looloo reviewers, this restaurant has lightning fast, top-of-the-line service and their food is only of the highest quality.
From the the special rolls section of their menu, treat yourself to their Oyake Shake Roll, made up of salmon tartare, cream cheese, crispy salmon skin, avocado, and torched wasabi mustard mayonnaise. From their meat & poultry category, you can’t miss out on the Enoki Bacon Kushi Yaki, skewered crabsticks and bacon flavored with light teriyaki sauce.
Ogetsu Hime can be found on the 5/F of SM Aura Premier, McKinley Parkway cor. 26th St., Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Metro Manila.
Urameshi-Ya gives us a great reason to leave work on time. Because from Mondays to Thursdays, it’s eat all you can over at this restaurant! This means you can order up as much meat and seafood as you want to cook on the grill. You might want to show up early for the party though because this place is known to get packed!
The wagyu cubes are the crowd favorite here, well-loved for being melt-in-your-mouth tender. But really, you can’t go wrong with any order because everything (they have sausages, crabs, tiger prawns, scallops, and a lot more) is great quality. The catch is, you only have forty five minutes to order up all the yakiniku you want so make every minute count!
Urameshi-Ya can be found at 2277 Chino Roces Ave., Little Tokyo, Makati, Metro Manila.
7. Haru Sushi Bar and Restaurant
Out of the ten on this list, Haru is probably the best-dressed of the bunch. With cherry blossoms dangling from the ceiling, Japanese paintings hanging on the walls, and a red bridge with actual water beneath it, you’d feel like you walked straight into the heart of Japan. But aside from its authentic ambiance, it’s also known for having one of the best sushi selections in town.
According to Jeffrey L. in his looloo review, Haru’s Shirashi Sushi was the best he’s ever had. It’s made up of special assorted fish and vegetables atop a bed of sushi rice. Other top picks here are the Ebi Tempura Maki, sushi rolls with shrimp tempura, cucumber, and teriyaki sauce and the Salmon Donburi, a generous helping of fresh salmon sashimi served with rice.
Haru Sushi Bar and Restaurant can be found at 21 West Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig, Metro Manila.
Back in the 60s, Maisen was just a hole-in-the-wall eatery in Japan, known for serving up simple meals for kids. Only when it was bought by Suntory Holdings Limited did the word spread about how crispy and juicy their tonkatsu dishes are. And last year, we finally got to prove this for ourselves when they set up shop in Manila!
It’s their panko (Japanese-style breading) that sets their tonkatsu apart. You can literally hear them crunch under your teeth when you chomp into them. You’d also have to dust off the edges of your mouth because they’re very flaky! Some of the bestsellers here are the Kurobuta Tenderloin Katsu Set, Cheese Minced Pork Katsu Set, and the Katsumabushi Set.
Maisen can be found at these locations.
There’s something about watching your food get cooked in front of you that really builds up the appetite. If you like this kind of pre-meal excitement, then you’re going to love the Kimpura experience. They’ve been cooking delicious Japanese food on misono tables ever since the 70s, earning them the title of best teppanyaki place in Metro Manila among looloo reviewers!
They have a vast teppanyaki menu but you can’t miss out on the steak section, the favorites from which are the Kobe Steak, Wagyu Rib Eye, and the US Angus Rib Eye. As for seafood, you can ask them to grill prawns, oysters, salmon, scallops, cod fish, lobster tail, and blue marlin for you! Be sure to order up a bowl of yakimeshi to complete your feast.
Kimpura can be found at these locations.
Chef Bruce Ricketts’ OOMA trended on looloo practically every month for the second half of 2015, so it’s no surprise that this newcomer made it onto this list. While it is competing with older, more established Japanese restaurants, its bold, innovative take on the classic cuisine is what makes it stand out. Believe it or not, you’re not going to find sushi or sashimi on their menu.
You will, however, find Taco-Maki! They re-invented the maki so that you can use your hands to eat them, just like how you would a taco. They have four variants of this, namely the California, Soft Shell Crab, Spicy Lapu-Lapu, and Uni Ebi Taco-Maki. Other bestsellers are the flavorful Uni Udon, the spicy Corn & Oyster Kaki-Age, and the filling Omakase Box.
OOMA can be found on the 3/F of Mega Fashion Hall, SM Megamall, EDSA cor. Julia Vargas Ave., Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.
3. Izakaya Kikufuji
In Japan, izakayas are a type of casual gastropub. They serve up good food and a wide variety of drinks at prices that fit the budget. While there are countless of them in Japan, there’s only one here in Manila that everyone goes to–Izakaya Kikufuji! It may look like a relic in need of a makeover but that doesn’t stop the crowd from lining up (even at off-peak hours) to get a plateful of their Japanese food.
Ask anyone who’s a fan of this restaurant and they’ll tell you to order the Gyu Kushi (wagyu beef cubes on a stick). According to looloo reviewers, they are flavorful, juicy, and melt-in-your-mouth tender! Their Chirashi Don, a generous serving of fresh sashimi, is another popular pick among its loyal patrons.
Izakaya Kikufuji can be found at 2277 Chino Roces Ave., Little Tokyo, Makati, Metro Manila.
When a food trend sweeps the nation, it usually blows over just as fast as it blew up. But the katsu craze looks like it’s here to stay for good, all thanks to Yabu who has perfected the art of cooking this Japanese dish! Lines were crazy back when its doors opened in 2012, but four years and countless branches later, the crowd is still as enthusiastic about Yabu’s katsu (and unlimited rice) as ever.
The Rosu Set, thick cuts of pork made juicy by a layer of fat, is one of the most popular picks among looloo reviewers. But those who prefer leaner cuts of pork go for the Hire Set. On special occasions, the Kurobuta Premium Set (it’s made from juicy and succulent pork cuts flown in all the way from Japan!) is a great way to celebrate.
Yabu can be found at these locations.
1. CoCo Ichibanya
When Filipinos think of the Japanese cuisine, it’s usually the fancier entrees like sushi, sashimi, and uni that come to mind. The humble curry rice, however, stays on the sidelines. But luckily for us, CoCo Ichibanya has made us realize what we’ve been sorely missing out on. Now with four branches in Metro Manila, more and more locals are starting to appreciate this long-neglected Japanese dish.
Last year, we endured long lines outside CoCo Ichibanya’s stores just for a helping of their sweet, spicy, and gooey curry variations. The clear favorite among looloo reviewers was the Cheese Hamburger Curry which oozes with cheese once cut into. Other popular picks are the Chicken Cutlet Curry, Pork Cutlet Omelet Curry, Fried Chicken Omelet Curry.
Coco Ichibanya can be found at these locations.