Asia Remastered: Indulge In These Korean And Japanese Restaurants
Among the multitude of Japanese restaurants in the metro, Kyo-to stands apart. At its core is Chef Ryohei Kamamoto who trained in the art of kaiseki for many years, honing its centuries-old techniques in order to develop a sensitivity to seasonality and equilibrium one exquisitely prepared dish at a time. Those uneducated in the ways of kaiseki (this author included) can still appreciate the meal for what it is—beautiful to look at, with delicately balanced flavors and textures, using quality ingredients as fresh as can be—enjoyed in an oasis of serenity in busy Makati.
At our dinner, Chef Ryohei started off with a trio of Hokkaido crab, vinegar jelly, ikura (fish roe) and uni (sea urchin), a play of sweet crabmeat and sour vinegar punctuated by bold umami flavor. From cold to hot, came a bowl of somen noodles and grilled saba (mackerel) in a clear broth rich and satisfying. We went back to cold with a sashimi platter of tuna belly (otoro), scallop (hotate), abalone (awabi) and yellowtail (hamachi). Despite its simple, stark presentation, the next course, teriyaki gindara was anything but ordinary, served with gohan or steamed Japanese rice, just as much a star as the fish. To end, Chef Ryohei treated us to a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a kinako and mochi crumble. Unlike most any other Japanese restaurant in the city, Kyo-to invites diners to delve into the soul of Japanese traditional culture, its aesthetics and philosophy, through a multi-sensory experience that is both enlightening and deeply enjoyable.
- Anne Marie Ozaeta
G/F 119 C. Palanca Jr. Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City, (02) 805-7743, (0917) 596-9697, www.ryoteikyoto.ph
Chef Akihiro Okochi of Teppan Okochi has mastered the teppan that he can cook anything on this flat griddle and come up with delicious masterpiece. In his restaurant in BGC, he has crafted a full course meal that showcases a little bit of everything to love about Japanese food. An eye-opening beginning to the feast that lay ahead included the Baked Scallop in Teriyaki Sauce and Baked Shrimp with Truffle Oil that shows he doesn’t scrimp on ingredients, while the Okra Ball and Eel Omelette reveal his cleverness in playing with textures. The Sea Urchin with Salmon Roe and Radish flavors play off each other beautifully—the ocean-sweetness of uni contrasting with the saltiness of the roe, as the radish’s sharpness cuts through.
This complexity of the appetizers is then tempered with a simply grilled lobster. Like a maestro and his orchestra, he hikes up the excitement with a deftly cooked abalone on a bed of greens, followed by luxurious 1983 Miyazaki caviar on paper-thin, iron plate cooked crepes with traditional condiments. Chef Okochi proves that aside from wagyu, sushi is part of a teppan menu, with his 7-piece show-stopping sampler of oyster, shrimp, scallop, abalone, eel, wagyu and foie gras. Just when you think he’s done, he brings out a generous serving of Unajyu using locally sourced eel. Wind down from this gustatory symphony with a three-piece sampler of Japanese sweets made of seasonal ingredients like peach, cherry blossom and matcha. Chef Okochi’s orchestral composition on a plate is performance that transcends the teppan and must be witnessed in person to fully appreciate.
- Ceia Ylagan
Ground Floor Ore Central Building, 9th Avenue corner 31st Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, (02) 813-0051
Gen Korean BBQ House
A welcome addition to SM By the Bay’s buffet row is Gen Korean BBQ House, a Los Angeles-based franchise that stands out because each dish is served fresh and raw to your table. Diners can select from between 28 to 35 kinds of unseasoned and marinated meat cuts imported from the U.S., alongside unlimited banchan or side dishes staples like kimchi, pickled onions, potato salad, and more. Only the best meat cuts are served, with the right balance of lean and fat, and always tender to the bite. Go classic with the samgyubsal (pork belly), woo beasal (short plate beef belly), and hangjungsal (pork cheek), best paired with the trio of dipping sauces for just the right burst of flavor in each bite. We loved the Manager’s style Premium Gen Chadol (beef brisket) that came with thin strips of white onions and the “crazy sauce,” for a unique blend of sweet-and-spicy, along with the Gen Signature Yangyum Galbi (marinated bone-in short rib) so perfectly seasoned it didn’t need any sauce. The Red Wine Samgyubsal was a welcome take on a classic, while the Hawaiian Bacon is a palate-pleaser for the Filipino taste. Make sure to ask for their radish pancake for a twist on the usual “wrap.” Lunch starts at only P798 and dinner at P1298 making it the perfect venue for holiday get-togethers with family and friends.
- Ceia Ylagan
Bldg J, Unit 1-16, SM By the Bay, Seaside Boulevard, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, (02) 541-2767
Photos of Gen Korean BBQ House by Paul del Rosario