Tori Box Cafe (403 F. Calderon St., Little Baguio, San Juan)

PhotoGrid_1385301700495Date visited: October 2013

What we ordered:

Kani Salad, Beef Yakiniku Pita and Tori Katsu

 

Taste = 3.5/5

–          Since the restaurant’s name had “Tori” in it, we decided to try their Tori katsu (deep-fried breaded or battered chicken). It was somewhat of a scary experience since the meat looked a little undercooked. But on closer inspection and a few tastes, it was cooked. The taste was good but not really exceptional. We were looking for something special since katsu is what they say their specialty is. But it was just ok, including the sauce and side salad. The Beef Yakiniku Pita likewise tasted good but not out of the ordinary. The taste was like beef with sweet soy sauce inside pita bread. The Kani salad was ok. Fortunately, the taste was that of Japanese mayo and the lettuce was crisp.

 

Service = 3.5/5

–          There were only two tables filled and one of the tables was only ordering take out/take away when we got there. Unfortunately, we had to exert much effort in just calling the servers’ attention.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          Although the dining area was small, the place had a good vibe to it. It was bright and clean and had interesting pictures and things on the walls and some were even hanging from the ceiling. It had a feeling of being a fun place to have a snack with someone.

 

Value for money = 3/5

–          The dishes were expensive considering the taste, quality and serving size. On the brighter side, the place had a good feel to it. Hopefully they can improve on the quality of their dishes so the good dining experience would be complete.

Click here for their Facebook page.

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Ajisen Ramen (Level 2 North East Square 47 Connecticut St. Greenhills, San Juan)

Date visited: September 2013

What we ordered:

Shitake Ebi, Ajisen Ramen and Seafood Ramen

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          The Shitake Ebi (stuffed shitake mushrooms) was really good. The shitake flavour was not overwhelming and it was cooked tempura style including the dipping sauce.  The Ajisen Ramen tasted very good. The broth’s meaty taste was just right and it really went well with the barbecued pork, which in itself was very soft, delicate and the fat was almost jelly-like. Yum! The Seafood Ramen equally tasted very good. It had fresh shrimps, crab sticks and scallops but the scallops were a little rubbery. Even if broths were essentially the same for both ramens, the ingredients blended so well they gave each ramen distinct tastes. The noodles in both dishes looked like spaghetti and they were “al dente” throughout our stay.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          The waiters knew how to serve their customers well enough. The place was almost full but they still were able to quickly accommodate our requests.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The dining area was small but it didn’t feel cramped inside although the place was almost full. The seats were comfortable and everything was neat and tidy.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The prices were a little too high but considering the good quality and taste of their food, they could justify their charges.

Click here for their website.

Tamayaki /The 5th Taste (453 P. Guevarra St., Addition Hills, San Juan)

Date visited: August 2013

What we ordered:

Seasoned Octopus Mixed Sauce Takoyaki, Mirin Chicken Ala Pobre and U.S. Flank Steak Tempura

 

Taste = 4.5/5

–          One night, we were driving around San Juan hungry and undecided on where we would eat.  It was at the point where this restaurant was located when we became too hungry already. Good thing we weren’t disappointed. I always wanted to taste Takoyaki again and this restaurant served really good Takoyaki. There were two octopus pieces per Takoyaki and half of our order had a semi-spicy curry-based sauce while the other half had a sweet sauce. The bonito flakes and nori highlighted the yumminess of the Takoyaki which were not fishy at all. Lyn’s chicken dish tasted a little bland but was juicy and tender. The Flank Steak was the best part of our dinner. It tasted like good thick beef strips cooked tempura style coupled with a very good tempura sauce. The special part was the baked potatoes! Actually, it was the very delicious wasabi-based sauce that made the potatoes and the whole dish very delightful. It’s hard to explain but the combination of beef, tempura batter, tempura sauce, wasabi crème fraiche and baked potatoes in one mouthful was exceedingly delicious!

 

Service = 5/5

–          The servers were very attentive and at one time, one of them immediately filled our glasses of water just as we finished them. The dishes were served very fast as well. They were very courteous and professional.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          The restaurant looked relatively new and the lower floor was the Tamayaki area which looked like a place where kids who were into anime would appreciate. The second floor (The 5th taste) looked like where their parents would stay. The whole area looked very clean and the spacing was good.

 

Value for money = 4.5/5

–          The prices were above average but you could really see that they put effort when they prepared their dishes. The quality, taste and serving sizes of their food were also above average. Their service is one of the best we have experienced.

Click here for their Facebook page.

Miso-Ten (2/F Robinsons Magnolia)

Date visited: August 2013

What we ordered:

Miso Ten Original and Excellent Set Meal (Ebi, Eggplant, String Beans, Pumpkin, Kani Salad, Miso Soup, Rice and Fruits)

 

Taste = 4/5

–          We were looking for good ramen at Robinsons Magnolia and we chose to try this restaurant first. Their ramen was miso-based but there was a sesame flavour to it which made the taste different from their miso soup. The pork slices were very tender and tasted like good asado which complimented the dish very well. The noodles were cooked nicely and were soft but not doughy. The egg (ajitamago) was interesting: it had the umami taste and was nicely soft-boiled. A really good compliment to the broth and ramen. Lyn appreciated the crunch when she took a bite off one of the tempuras (Ebi). Their tempura was one of the best we have tasted. The prawn meat was thick and the crust was very crunchy and yummy. Our only disappointment was that they didn’t use Japanese mayonnaise on the Kani salad.

 

Service = 4.5/5

–          The servers were attentive and were mostly smiling plus the food was served quick enough.

 

Ambience = 4.5/5

–          The restaurant had an indoor dining area and an al fresco area. The indoor are was a little cramped and cold. On the other hand, it was quite comfortable on the alfresco area when we ate there.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices were above average considering the quality, taste and serving sizes of their food. They should have at least used Japanese mayonnaise and also improved on the serving size of their ramen. It just looked large but it felt like a meriyenda size of other establishments.

 Click here for their Facebook page.

New Kamameshi House (Zobel Roxas Ave Palanan, Makati)

PhotoGrid_1373819164872Date visited: July 2013

What we ordered:

Teka Maki (Tuna Rolls), Ika Fry (Fried Squid) and Kani Kamameshi (Crab Kettle Rice)

 

Taste = 4/5

–          The restaurant was nice enough to serve unique complimentary appetizers: sweet anchovy and bean sprouts. They were surprisingly nice. The bean sprouts were watery and a little bland while the anchovy were very sweet and crunchy. The tuna rolls tasted fresh while the sushi rice was nice and sticky. One of the good tuna rolls we have tasted. The Ika Fry tasted like good calamares and was accompanied by a sweet brown sauce. The squid was the cooked right and was neither tough nor spongy. The serving was generous as well. We were a little letdown by the Kani Kamameshi. It was too bland. I think they should have added more soy sauce or something. The flavour of the crab meat was not enhanced and became just a background to the rice.

 

Service =5/5

–          We felt that the servers had been doing their jobs for a long time. They had tidy uniforms, were quick on their feet and were very attentive to the customers.

 

Ambience = 3.5/5

–          The dining area was clean and neat but an old house smell greeted us when we walked in. Also, the way they painted over everything didn’t look too good.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          Considering the good food and great service that we received, their prices were fair enough. It would be nice if they could improve their interiors.

 

Yabu: House of Katsu (G/F Robinsons Magnolia)

PhotoGrid_1376060132830Date visited: June 2013

What we ate:

Chicken Mixed Set (Chicken, Black Tiger Prawn, Squid, Oyster)

Taste = 4/5

–          When we first ate here, we knew that they had the best-tasting katsu in Manila. The crispy batter was both tasteful and was cooked perfectly, the meat was always juicy and perfectly cooked and the sauce was extraordinarily special – we had to make it ourselves by grinding roasted sesame seeds then adding their sauce. When we took a bite out of the katsu, we could tell that they knew how to cook perfect katsu dishes all the time. So why 4/5 only? For both Lyn and I, the taste got old fast. After our third time eating here, we knew that we should only eat here once a year (at the most) or we’d be risking not wanting to eat katsu forever.

Service = 3.5/5

–          For some reason, this particular branch is almost always full. Unfortunately, their service is also almost always sub-par.

Ambience = 4/5

–          The dining area was well-lit, there were a lot of available condiments on the tables and the presentation of the food was good. The only problem we noticed was the tight spaces in between tables inside the restaurant.

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices of the menu items were on the expensive side but the quality and taste of the dishes were great. This restaurant definitely has the best katsu we’ve tasted.

Click here for their website.

Watami (2nd Floor, North Wing, SM MOA)

WatamiDate visited: May 2013

What we ate:

Watami Salad, Salmon Sashimi, Shrimp Tempura Roll and Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot

 

Taste = 5/5

–          They have one of the best Salmon Sashimi’s I have tasted – very fatty and very fresh. Lyn and I were fighting for each of the succulent pink pieces of delicate raw heaven but we weren’t obvious about it. The watami salad was good. It had crisp veggies with shrimp, grilled chicken, tuna mayo and a sesame-based dressing. The tempura roll was prepared really well and tasted very good. It had a brown sauce that tasted sweet and when I dipped it in soy sauce with wasabi, the combination was excellent. The Pepper Beef Rice was placed in a very hot stone pot and the server was kind enough to mix it for us. Since the meal was cooked almost entirely in front of us, the beef was great. Hopefully, the meat-to-rice ratio would improve in the future (too much rice, too little meat). The stone pot was so hot that it kept the dish warm until the time we finished the dish. The minor drawback was that the rice at the bottom became toasted when left unattended.

 

Service = 5/5

–          I went to the restroom just as we entered the restaurant and when I came to our table, the dishes were already being served. Talk about fast service! The servers were very polite and accommodating as well.

 

Ambience = 5/5

–          The place was big and everything was clean and tidy. The place looked very contemporary and it wasn’t in-your-face Japanese inside at all. It was a nice and comfortable place to eat. I hope they could maintain the look and feel of the restaurant.

 

Value for money = 4/5

–          The prices were a little too high in my opinion but the food was excellent.

Click here for their Facebook page.