I asked my long time Japanese foodie friend Atsushi to guest post and write about his favorite Japanese restaurant in Manila. Enjoy this educational post about Japanese food in Manila!
(image credit: Sepavo)
Being a Japanese living in the Philippines, the most frequently asked question is "Where's the best Japanese restaurant".
As it sounds like an easy question, it's a very difficult one. Because Japanese cuisine is very diverse.
We have the authentic Japanese dishes like Sushi, Sashimi, Tempura, Udon and Soba noodles as well as dishes originated from other countries that we made it our own such as Tonkatsu, Curry, Ramen, Spaghetti and the likes.
In Japan, most restaurants carry a specialty. Meaning, you don't find Sushi in a Ramen house, just like you don't find Tempura in a Curry house. They're considered a totally different genre that doesn't mix. The preparation is different and the equipment required in the kitchen are different. Thus, the chef is trained differently.
There are, in fact, restaurants that offer most of what you call Japanese dishes. But in Japan, they are mostly canteens, diner or eateries that do not specialize in any particular genre. Most of these restaurants are either run by a family or a company that prepares everything in the central kitchen, pre-cooked and instantly prepared.
And in many restaurants that call themselves a "Japanese restaurant" outside Japan, offers mostly everything. This is to cater all customers who look for Japanese dishes.
I am in no way against them. But, as a consumer who are new to Japanese cuisine, I must suggest that it is important to understand the true essence of Japanese dishes and how it is really prepared to enjoy them.
For example, preparation of Ramen starts by making the soup broth that takes more than half a day. The noodles alone are prepared from a different mixture of fine ingredients. Not to mention the thickness and hardness of the noodles, which are made different for specific soup base.
People get attracted to the word "authentic". But what is an authentic Japanese restaurant? If I'd mention my opinion, a real authentic Japanese restaurant (or any other cuisine in that matter) wouldn't call themselves "authentic". When I call the restaurant "authentic", that means the menu and its recipe are created by a Japanese chef, properly trained by a master. In most of these restaurants, you will see a Japanese staff in the kitchen and/or in the service area. They are there to keep control of the food they prepare for you and to maintain the Japanese standard of service.
Here are my suggestions according to category. Because Japanese food is so diverse, it's not easy to pick a few and say they're the "best". So I hope you read through just as I suggest.