8 New Japanese Restaurants to Satisfy Your Kimpura-Missing Heart
Japanese cuisine has, in one way or another, found a way to weave itself into our daily lives. We all grow up surrounded by some kind of Japanese food, whether it’s high-end sashimi flown in fresh daily by a chef or an easy-to-eat onigiri from the cafeteria or a matcha latte your corner coffee shop. It's probably why hearts shattered with the shocking closure of Kimpura back in June. The Japanese restaurant in Greenhills was beloved by families who grew up eating Filipino-style Japanese fried rice and steak.
Luckily, Metro Manila is not wanting in its selection of Japanese food. In fact, 2017 alone has provided us with more than enough must-try’s to help fill the Japanese food void.
If you're looking for a simple Japanese meal to sate a common craving, then Kazunori isn't for you. It satisfies in more ways than one but as you'll find in any other Cuenca establishment, this restaurant is all about offering only the best quality. Rice is sourced from Japan, wasabi is freshly made only upon order...the cafe, omakase, and dining room is definitely Japanese food of the highest order.
Kazunori is at 2301 Chino Roces Avenue, Magallanes, Makati City.
In Alabang, you'll find a retro, robot-themed Japanese restaurant where the walls are plastered with posters upon posters of old Japanese robot classics like Voltes V, Gundam, and Missile Man, which might trigger a few memories. Mr. Roboto is focused on serving more modern Japanese food, like nori nachos, chirashi-style poke bowls, and inventive sushi rolls, making it a must-visit, particularly for millenials itching to try something new.
Mr. Roboto is at G/F ATC Corporate Center, Alabang, Muntinlupa City.
This restaurant hides in plain sight. It's helmed by Chef Yoshimi Igarashi, who started Ben Kay at the now defunct Hotel Nikko back in the day as well as the now defunct Sushi Kappo Kobikicho. In Ikkyu-an, the good chef continues his preference for serving kaiseki, which comes in two price points. Igarashi has more affordable options for lunch, but he keeps his dinner premium with top-notch ingredients and techniques.
Ikkyu-an is at G/F Somerset Millenium, Aguirre Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
At the helm of this kaiseki restaurant is chef Ryohei Kawamoto, who moved to the Philippines after working both as an assistant buyer at the Tsukiji Fish Market and as a cook at Osaka’s Kitcho. Unlike the Japanese restaurants that we’re used to, what sets this restaurant apart is it's preference to serve food kaiseki. In kaiseki, a meal has multiple courses, each carefully prepared, plated, and presented—in other words, food becomes an entirely new, intricate art form. A trip to Kyo-to isn’t just landing you good food, it’s going to give you a new experience, and a new way to appreciate Japanese cuisine.
Kyo-to is at 119 C. Palanca Jr. Street in Legazpi Village, Makati City.
We’re sure you’ve heard whispers of Hibana’s squid sauce ice cream, which they peddle as "Japanese queso." Mark Tan’s novel approach to Japanese food has definitely marked this restaurant as a forward-thinking source for Japanese food. He's found a way to craft unique dishes that still ring close to home, serving favorites like sushi, tempura, and noodles, all with a twist that makes them more addicting than your run of the mill counterparts.
Hibana is at Grand Midori, Bolanes Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
The recently opened Ikomai is the brainchild of chefs James Antolin and Hide Saeki. It serves Japanese street and comfort food from at their cozy new location at Salcedo (they started with a booth at Saturday market). Their menu ranges from chicken wings to donburi, with something to offer everyone who wanders into their little haven. Chef James is a dessert master and his domain is Tochi right across, the perfect ending to a fun Japanese feast.
Ikomai x Tochi is at ACI Group Building, 147 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City.
Kushikatsu Darum offers different kinds of skewers, from potato croquettes to chicken skin to sinful foie gras. They're all breaded and fried to perfection then served with dipping tonkatsu sauce. Stop your requisite Instagram shot. You need to enjoy these babies hot off of the kitchen, which is why they come one at a time. It's relatively new in the Philippines, but the restaurant chain has been in Osaka since 1929.
Kushikatsu Daruma is at 2/F Uptown Mall, Uptown Parade, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.
A recent addition to the growing number of restaurants at the S Maison complex is the newest haven for the matcha addict. Beginning with its founder, Riemon Tsuji, who made the spread of green tea possible by creating the tea box, Tsujiri now spans up to over 25 branches across the globe. In other words, they’re light years ahead when it comes to the matcha game, and now they're in the Philippines.
Tsujiri is at 2/F S Maison, Conrad Manila, Seaside Boulevard corner Coral Way, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.