Tag Archives: Japanese Food

Tonchaya Drift: Bringing Osaka to the Fort Strip

fort strip restaurant

The ramen rage has been overly hyped, steering folks clear of the real Japanese goods and driving them to carb showdown. Truth is, the best Jap deals come in other jazzy forms – raw, for the adventurous and perky—and bringing the hype in from Osaka and not the big T—tokyo. Catch my drift?

blog review tonchaya

Tonchaya isn’t just that ramen place, it’s a whole Japanese kitchen and bar concept, so you can expect sushi chef and cocktails, and that snobby Tempura crunch we can never seem to copy at home. It’s also intriguingly artsy yet shambolically homey, every nook is filled with paintings, bottles and Japanese food symbols, you’ll find a comfort zone of your own. Even the sign on the kitchen entrance shows a white cat, so there’s something to claw about.

japanese restaurant review

Daily combos or promos are available which are lavishly posted on the walls, like buy-one-take-one tonkatsu Thursdays or maki days.

fort bonifacio japanese restaurant

With the sashimi chiller on display, it is given that maki, sushi and sashimi are abundantly offered and occupy heaps of meals in the menu. I could live on sashimi buffet and rave about it, and miss out on ramen—not the other way around! So good to actually see the fresh catch waiting to be ordered.

tonchaya_jenina_gonzales_maki

Presented first were the usual Japanese appetizer staples. With that much rice on the first course, the white flag of satiation was close to being raised.

The maki was made of sticky rice, so there was not much crumbling going on. Some were a bit on the spicy side too so manage the wasabi on your dipping sauce—or enjoy them piping spicy!

tonchaya_tuna_maki

Here we have the Crunchy Crab Maki (the long rolls), Crunchy Salmon Maki and Crunchy Tuna Maki (looks like the former but has that dotted by a tuna speck).

maki bgc

And then I got confused with all the crunch going on, since I swear I thought it was called Spicy Tuna Maki! I guess I just made that up. Completing the package though, it was spicy, crunchy, a bit sticky and ultimately soy-worthy.

j.anne gonzales food blog

The Chirashidon 8 Kinds showcases various sashimi atop white rice, including Salmon, Tuna, Tamago, Ika, Mackerel, Kani, Ebi and Uni. With roughly two of each, you get the luxury of variety and whilst I never chanced upon the bestselling tamago, the mackerel and uni were mine to fill.

authentic japanese food philippines

 

tonchaya_beef_teppanyaki

The Okonomiyaki looked like a vast pie of curly cabbage generosity. Cabbage, seafood, pork and sauces contributed to this abstract pie art, and bagged the title of crowd favorite. Beef Teppanyaki was another sizzling plate to watch out for, with veggies on the side to minimize the guilt.

tonchaya_tempura_lazyblackcat

The Ebi Tempura was what you would expect—crisp and long—as a positive gastronomic virtue, nothing else. To describe the length on this one—the damn prawn couldn’t fit on the saucer, damn average saucer! Literally had tempura crumbs on my chin after every bite, and boy were those bites aplenty!

tonchaya_chicken_teriyaki

tonchaya_fried_rice_seafood

Rice meals were just as abound in the menu, as heftily exemplified by the Chicken teriyaki and Seafood Gomuko Chahan, the latter being  a leviathan bowl of fried rice—the toppings can suffice as viands. Guaranteed burp—but then again, where’s the fun in just eating rice?

ramen fort bonifacio

Which is why for this hungry cat, a meal is never complete without noodles! Seafood Ramen was just the fix for a rainy evening. With the proper spice level and thick soup, the noodles were pleasantly chewy so each bite was packed with a zing. The seafood was also in abundance, so this should suffice as a meal on its own. Good for sharing, or for a hungry solo, why go for the boring ramen when you could have seafood on a sea of red? Oishi!

bgc restaurant review

With all those pescatorian slurps and bites, there was no room left for dessert. Sadly. Maybe next time.

There’s nothing like a cozy Japanese bar, the type where Naruto could just sit and slurp his noodles without a care in the world. Well Tonchaya’s a bit close to that—with just better paintings and seats.

For those planning to visit this place soon, Itadakimasu! Or better yet, call me. Lol. =P

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Kichi Kichitora (Ramen)!

japanese restaurant glorietta 5

As much as I would relish the chance to whisper, “Winter is coming” the opportunity is close to nil. In this fair tropical hub, I have a better chance at “turning black” than experiencing that Winterfell chill.

Whilst the tempest named Glenda (typhoon) did manage to smash our windows and ceilings to leaky paperweights, this is the closest we could get to that so-called winter. More of Twister with a siding of damp clothing.

Enough with the #Glenda and #GoT talk though.

review japanese food glorietta

Having eaten leftovers for the longest time, I have warranted the right to eat out and dine on something prepared elsewhere. This called for a long awaited TGIF at Glorietta, though of course reality came more like rush hour folks trampling on my vibe, embraced in darkness and devoid of any air-conditioning breeze. Rotating brownout and hungry employees never made a good mix, and I have the non-evaporating sweat to prove it.

Of course Yabu was crossed out the minute I said “7pm reservation” to the manager.

Many others were crossed off the list and I feared that we would end up in Heaven and Eggs, which was not really a Friday destination unless you had a sudden craving for that Baguio Country Club Raisin Bread, which really would not necessitate dining in being the to-go loaf for uncreative passersby.

 kichitora collage

Hence we ended up in Glorietta 5’s remote sectors or “posh looking joints”, or in Kichitora’s case, hard to pronounce and remember, you’re better off saying ramen.

Kichitora is actually beside Mad Mark’s Creamery, which is 2 stores away from Yabu. I can see the nodding heads. Thank God for popular competitor landmarks!

Kichitora is predominantly a ramen place that also serves tonkatsu meals and other combo platters that would make our Japanese nakama sigh in delight. From soup to salad to that sweet karaage, it’s a Japanese haven for proper meals and dim lighting.

 ramen review makati

With several menu pages dedicated to ramen, first timers and slow readers will have to spend time lurking, gawking at the photos, reading out the names (there is a Jajamen, suited for the Jeje and a Paitan for Oy, paisan!) until finally narrowing down the choices to 2 or 3. There is also cold ramen to add in to the confusion so choose wisely.

Being the ever stranger to pork, my choices were narrowed down to ramen selections that had the phrase “pork or chicken”. Given a choice, I was safe, as other bowls purely suggested, imposed and necessitated pork as the topping—and I respect that. The waitress though secretly revealed that all their soup bases are “Chicken stock” so it’s just a matter of choosing which name (and price) you fancy.

Being a simpleton who wants chicken all the way, we settled for Paitan Ramen.

Paitan is rather simple and unappealing to the adventurous ramen seeker, but with menma (bamboo shoots), green onions and chicken slices topping the ensemble, it’s comfort food variety, enough for #Glenda post trauma.

The soup is gravely thick (not that hot though), even non soup lovers will spend considerable time sipping the soup. It’s a meal on its own! No need for embellishments and sauces, since the soup and noodle balance each other out. The noodles are chewy and thick, and upon the first bite, my instant worry was: Oh no, I might get so full and have no space left for dessert! (True, true.) Good thing, some people just have the habit of sharing, and so there was enough appetite spared for Mad Mark’s. 

If you manage to finish a bowl single-handedly and have enough room for ice cream, I salute you. #thegodsmustbeproud

 japanese food makati

Out of curiosity, the Chicken Karaage was likewise ordered. Intended to be an appetizer, it came way later, so it was not enjoyed fully.I like the proper sequencing of food, especially in posh places that look like they can afford the service.

These 4 little crunchers were sweet, oily and had my mortal enemy, chicken skin! You can imagine that only half of the piece was made of the actual meat, which is a letdown for those who are not into chicken skin! Even that slice of lemon did no wonder and we are always better off with the likes of BonChon, I kid you not.

 glorietta makati ramen

The other ramen bowls were not mine and I could not indulge in them, since they were pork based. They made picture perfect photos though, complete with the tamago. Oh that egg is just screaming at me!

What is consistent though amongst the orders is that no single person—no matter how hungry or horizontally challenged—could single-handedly finish a bowl. While we did manage a scoop of Mad Mark’s after dinner, maybe finishing one bowl was too cloying or overbearing and a second dish is needed to get rid of the heavy feeling.

 kichitora ramen scrambled

Perhaps the next time around, share a bowl with a friend and order a neat little siding, chicken or katsu. No cloying feeling—just a perfect, full meal!

Still, with chicken on the menu and that warm cuddly feeling you get from slurping the noodles—it’s a satisfying thought to find a ramen joint, sans the queue, for that quick Friday fix.

My Mad Mark’s ice cream was a treat, so another successful #TGIF and #foodcoma.

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ROKU and Roll (Katipunan)

QC ramen manila

While ramen houses are abound and everywhere, it is of life threatening importance to maintain a set of standards when slurping on these heavenly slivers of ramen noodles. Amen.

Never believe in promises like “home-made”, freshly made, delicious, authentic. Should you fall for the verbal trap, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Just because a bowl costs more than P300 does not equate to a premium item; oftentimes price is proportional to rent.

japanese lazy black cat blog

Over boasting and trying too hard to seem Japanese-kawaii can be a double edged samurai. When your ramen comes without the zing, pang and kick, it’s hara-kiri for that ramen house.

And so we sentence hara-kiri for Roku (Katipunan). Overpriced, overkill yet simply mediocre, it was an expensive meal for trying to be authentic.

ramen blog philippines japanese

In the lazy mood to write, the experience is best expressed as:

The ramen was bland, forgettable and abnormally bare. The tuna salad was speckled with carbs and onions—the word salad was nowhere to be enjoyed. The sushi rolls were zzzz. And the yakitori, I watched, as my cousin swallowed in disdain.

The ramen, in particular, was a disaster as the chicken karaage provided no pleasure whatsoever and the absence of other potential embellishments made this a last resort meal along the strip of Katipunan.

Japanese food katipunan

And so Roku may mean six but did absolutely nothing for my ramen fix. I can’t believe I’m saying this but: Better off with Ramen X!

Oh and if you think Serenitea, post ramen, will address your woes, think again. I simply ended up with a very bad stomach.

 

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Cold Soba Nights

 soba tempura japanese

The search for Little Tokyo (Pasay Road) has been a long and winding road and the best way to get there is not to plan at all.

That’s how I got there.

Just say: “I want Ramen” and like Harry Potter’s Room of Requirement, the mysterious door appears in front of you! Then you go through this drunken sakura alley and next thing you see is Little Tokyo with the takoyaki ladies and the la-la-lanterns. Pick your choice dining place and eat like it’s the Meiji era.

 japanese food lazy black cat

How we ended up at Hana was a combination of accident, timing and good lighting. Since this was an unplanned trip, I never had the chance to research on where to eat, much less how to read signs in Japanese. However the takoyaki lady in Hana who also alternated as waitress and direction giver found the opportunity to seat the wanderers and so we obliged.

makati japanese food 

No reason can explain why I did not order the takoyaki balls which are quite a steal at P120. Perhaps this gives us a good reason to return. Unplanned of course!

j.anne gonzales little tokyo

Sumimasen for the blurry photos. The place was dark.

The tako karaage was supposed to serve as the pescatorian appetizer (domo) and was ungreasy and very tender, despite the form of the animal it originated from. To be dipped in salt, ah yes, quite an under the sea re-enactment.

 Japanese Food Makati

The Tempura Soba was the highlight of my meal, warm and sweet—just perfect for my cold! With perfectly fried tempura and chewy soba noodles making the ensemble, it was a fabulous dish for anyone in search of the perfect noodles! Sadly for me who cannot just delight in ramen (because of the pork stock) the soba offers the better alternative.

With the noodles so hauntingly rich and the flavor bursting with soy wonder, I believe there is nothing little about Little Tokyo.

jspsnese food makati little tokyo

And yes, I ought to come back. “Eat again, I must,” as Rurouni Kenshin would say.

As for me, Ja ne! See you later!

 

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