Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Restaurants in Manila, 2014
I have always said that if we’re talking about food, I might have been a Japanese in the previous life. There’s no hesitation in me that Japanese cuisine is my favourite cuisine. The cuisine is extremely diverse, and thus its hard to compare a ramen restaurant to a sushi restaurant, as Japanese restaurants are known to specialise in a particular dish.
Here in the Philippines, our selections for Japanese restaurants are not that broad, and more often than not we can find those places that do not really serve authentic Japanese cuisine, although they claim they are. And what sadness it brings us is that when a Japanese cuisine restaurant indeed calls itself authentic, our entire experience is ruined and could hail as one of the worst food experiences that we ever had. Truth be told, if you notice, most of us have high expectations for Japanese restaurants.
The growth of ramen restaurants here in Manila really helped in making our love for Japanese even more widespread, and in fact, ramen restaurants in Manila are among the most buzz worthy following its birth in late 2012. My list below does not tell the overall picture of the Japanese cuisine here in the metro, but rather, as people are limited to the popularity of ramen, tonkatsu and sushi, these are the places that they frequently search and are most familiar to.
In no particular order, as people have chosen by means of searching for it over the Internet, here are your Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Restaurants in Manila:
1. Genji M Sushi Restaurant, Kalayaan Avenue, Makati City
Genji M is half Korean in cuisine, but its Sushi buffet restaurant brings out the glee in people. For a knock off of just P350, one can get unlimited makimono, sushi and sashimi as the tummy can fill. Yes, there’s also spam maki for the ones who crave for comfort food.
2. Ramen Nagi, SM Aura Premier, Taguig
Phone: SM Aura 8286793 ; MOA 5502394 ; SM North Edsa 374-0503 ; Robinsons Magnolia | 4701356
Where is a Japanese Restaurant in Manila list without everyone’s favorite ramen restaurant? Ramen Nagi’s popularity is widespread in Manila and everyone has got to have a bowl of Original King Butao and its descendants Red King, Green King and Black King in their tummies. It’s hard to take the crown from Ramen Nagi, especially when they’re already accustomed to its long queues in its rival Butao Ramen in Hong Kong.
3. Yabu House of Katsu, Robinsons Magnolia, Quezon City
Facebook: Yabu House of Katsu
Phone: 0998 980 1702
I call Yabu, the luckiest restaurant in Manila. It is the first to grab its crown as the most popular Tonkatsu restaurant in Manila, even as Saboten, Ginza Bairin, Tonkatsu by Terazawa, Katsu Sora, Kimukatsu and a whole herd of Tonkatsu restaurants furiously tries to take its crown from Yabu. Very few restaurants emerge victorious in this kind of feat. The proof of its popularity? During the aftermath of Yolanda last 2013, Yabu held a Dine for a Cause event that gathered more than 4000 customers in a single day. Until today, you’ll have to line up at peak hours.
4. Ukokkei Ramen Ron, Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City
Facebook: Ukokkei Ramen
If the Tonkatsu industry has Yabu, the Ramenya’s of Manila have Ukokkei, who remains to be people’s go-to restaurant for a hot bowl of Tantanmen. It’s popularity stretches even as one of the Most Popular Restaurants in Makati City this 2014 and I cannot just blame them. Ukokkei is at the forefront for showing everyone how to do a truly Japanese bowl of Tantanmen ramen.
5. Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant, Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City
Facebook: Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant
Phone: 02 843 4285, 02 812 2913
Voted as the Best Japanese Restaurant at MBKRS Awards 2010, Chef Toshiro Okajima’s Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant serves one of the best sushi and sashimi in the city since 1989. It comes in close running with Izakaya Kikufuji as well as other restaurants in Little Tokyo, Makati, but Tsukiji, as its aptly named after the most popular market in Tokyo, will not disappoint you with West Coast Uni, Hotate and Hamachi. It’s also one of the most expensive sushi restaurants there is, but who cares when we all love the real deal?
6. Cafe Shibuya, UP Town Center, Katipunan
Phone: 0947 221 3836
Cafe Shibuya’s Honey Shibuya Toasts appear thick and tough but slice on it and that buttery goodness will just melt in your mouth and surprise you. That’s what makes it popular, and makes people come back for more. Top it with ice cream and you’re in dessert heaven. Cafe Shibuya is in no doubt a monopoly in people’s choice for French-inspired Japanese desserts,
7. IPPUDO Ramen Manila, SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Phone: 0999 886 7907
It isn’t opened yet, but everyone is excited about Ippudo’s game plan as it revolutionises the Hakata industry in Manila. Yabu’s group will be bringing in Ippudo Ramen in Manila, so that’s going to be interesting at how it plays out versus Ramen Nagi. Let’s go grab a bowl of IPPUDO’s Akamaru Tamago Ramen on September 10th, 2014!
8. St. Marc Cafe of Tokyo, SM Mega Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Facebook: St Marc Cafe PH
As if SM Mega Fashion Hall hasn’t had quite a load of queues in its mall with Tim Ho Wan taking the lead, Suyen Group brings St Marc Cafe of Tokyo into the limelight with Tokyo’s most popular chocoros or chocolate croissants. The proof of its popularity? Since Kris Aquino walked in to their cafe, everything just changed. You also can’t buy more than 3 chococros per transaction. Oh and by the way, people are furious about the misinformation for a dozen chococros for only P499.
9. Ginza Bairin, Glorietta, Makati City
Facebook: Ginza Bairin PH
Phone: (02) 553 7350
Following Yabu: House of Katsu in second place, Ginza Bairin follows closely as people are truly impressed with the quality of their tonkatsu sets. Ginza Bairin’s humble beginnings were back at Tokyo’s high-end fashion lane in 1927 and now it has branches across Asia. What makes it popular? Ginza Bairin’s unique gyoza that shows extreme crispness and the affordable tonkatsu meals that give you the best quality tonkatsu from a Black Berkshire pig.
10. Crazy Katsu, Maginhawa, Teacher’s Village
Facebook: Crazy Katsu
Phone: (02) 435 0030
People always wonder where the Tonkatsu craze came from, and the answer is Crazy Katsu which was quite popular in the early 2014, enough to earn its spot here in this list, but is currently deteriorating. Its worth noting that people would bathe under the sunlight waiting for a vacant table to grab the most Affordable Tonkatsu Restaurant there is, at less than 200 bucks. Talk about bang for your buck, but we’ll see as people have higher aspirations for their stomachs lately.
There you go, Top 10 Most Popular Japanese Restaurants in Manila. As you can see, we need more diversity, more than just Sushi, Ramen and Tonkatsu for our Japanese restaurant fix. My intuition tells me that Teppanyaki will soon take over the Japanese hype, while we wait for Ippudo Ramen to finally open in Manila ~ that is the last straw for ramen as it grows within our daily eating habits like milk tea. I can only hope that restaurateurs will embrace a wider Japanese cuisine range as there’s a lot to still invest in like Tempura and Soba, which have higher potentials over Yakiniku and Gyoza. (Yes, Gyukaku’s Yakiniku isn’t that matured. The market is not ready for this. And Osaka Ohsho’s gyoza concept is still half cooked for everyone to absorb ~ there’s a lot to take in for what used to be a side dish into the star of the restaurant. By the time these have picked up its momentum, the brand’s image would have been “just another Japanese restaurant” with newcomers earning more popularity.) After all, Filipinos are open-minded when it comes to food, and are very adventurous. We’d love to see more takoyaki, okonomiyaki and yakitori in the places we go to.
How about you? Do you have a favourite Japanese restaurant that you’d like to recommend? Share your thoughts here on Candid Cuisine.
Are you heading for Tokyo soon? Check out my #CandidCuisineTokyo series to find out where to eat in Tokyo and get tips on how to navigate around Tokyo for your trip! Also, check out these Top 10 Foods You Must Eat in Tokyo article.
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