As we parked our car near the Pasong Tamo entrance of Little Tokyo, I can't help but think of backing out and going to another place instead of Little Tokyo. This little Japanese town besides Makati Cinema Square transports you to a restaurant strip in Japan. Every time I enter the little red arc that welcomes you to Little Tokyo, I felt uneasy because I can't read Japanese and I don't know how to confidently choose among the different Japanese watering holes and restaurants.
Armed with a tip from a Japanese friend that the best Yakiniku place is hidden in Little Tokyo, we decided to proceed with meeting Chris (one of my best buddies in P&G) and his wife Sharon in Urameshi Ya inside Little Tokyo. Yakiniku is a Japanese term which refers to grilled meat dishes. Usually it is enjoyed with friends over long conversations and a few bottles of beer. This was the right place for our "reunion" meeting with Chris after his short expat stint in China.
Urameshi Ya is located in a little corner in the heart of Little Tokyo. A lot of Japanese frequent this place which is usually a good sign but since you are in Little Tokyo you can find mostly Japanese nationals in most of the restaurants. Since we already know where we are going, we can confidently refuse all the invitations from waitresses inviting us to eat in their restaurant. If you are on a date, you will get pogi points for being confident in navigating your way around Little Tokyo.
As you enter the restaurant, you'll see bottles of Japanese wine on your right and the bar on your left. You'll be greeted with a warm welcome by the Filipina waitresses who would accompany you to your Yakiniku table. I don't think you would need a reservation but I noticed that the place fills up quickly around 7pm. Better go there earlier so that you can choose the right table for your group.
Yakiniku 101. If you are a big group of 4 or more, try to order the Tarafuku-set (P1,545) or the Wagyu set (P2,665). You can supplement it with a seafood set or additional meat servings. You have to cook the meat yourselves and you can't rely on the waitresses during the peak hours. They would show you how to cook the first time and change the griller top once in a while. Budget P700- P1,000/ person when you eat in a Yakiniku place.
If you decide to eat here, check out the menu ahead of time:
Set Menu, Sashimi, and Tukemono | Yakiniku and Horumon | Jingsisukan and Nabe | Yakai and Salad | Yakitori and Ramen | Other Japanese Treats | Karubi | Drinks
Tofu Salad (P190). Be prepared for the name dropping selling line that Gretchen Barretto loves ordering the Gyushabu Salad or this Tofu Salad. We were skeptical but we ordered it anyway. The greens were fresh and the tofu has a clean soft taste just like eating a white pillow of tasteless gelatin. The Japanese sweet and sour sauce adds magic to this salad and we can't stop raving about it.
Tarafuku-Set (P1,545). The set comes with three (3) plates of beef — tongue, beef meat and beef karubi (beef ribs); two (2) servings of pork — pork butabara (belly) and buta horumon (intestines); a bowl of Wakami (seaweed) soup; a small place of choligi salad; and a cup of rice. It is typically good for two persons but you can stretch it to up to three. Just order extra servings of Japanese rice.
Horumon Santenmori (P1,097). We also ordered the Seafood Set that consisted of two (2) pieces of prawn, four (4) big round pieces of scallops , and two (2) slices of squid– all seasoned with salt and pepper.
According to Rache, "Timing is very essential in yakiniku style of cooking…especially with seafoods. Grilling it too long would be a no-no while taking it out the grill prematurely would be like having a gum in your mouth. "
I don't really know how to cook (at least not yet) so I let my wife Rache do all the cooking. The meats are already cut in bite-size portions and it doesn't take long to cook the meat. You need to have a perfect timing when to declare the meat is cook and ready to eat.
Karubi (P380). Finally, we ordered the featured Karubi meat which was highly recommended by the waitresses as one of the meat best sellers next to the Tarafuku set.
Enma Ramen (P246). We ended the dinner with the "devil's" ramen. You have a choice to order from a scale of 1 to 20 which represents degrees of chiliness. We went for the usual choice which is 5 (bearable) and how I wish I ordered 10 just for the experience.
The coating of chili was different. This is definitely a must try for all foodies out there who likes an adventure with their ramen.
Hana Flavored Ice Shavings
Aidan was demanding a dessert so we ordered the best dessert in Little Tokyo — the flavored ice shavings from Hana. We got the peach flavor instead of their chocolate with banana bestseller because it was out of stock.
It was a great Japanese Yakiniku night! Thanks to Atsushi Matsuura for the foodie tip!
Urameshi-ya Yakiniku Restaurant
Little Tokyo Makati
2277 bet. Pasong Tamo and Amorsolo Street
(beside Makati Cinema Square) Makati City, Metro Manila
Telephone: +632 8132210
Text and Photos by by Anton Diaz. Copyright 2008.
Mobile: +63917-LOVEOAP (5683627)