There is no dearth of Japanese restaurants in Manila. I’ve met several restaurant owners who put up a Japanese restaurant simply because ”˜they love Japanese food.’ Thus arises a cookie-cutter Japanese restaurant of sorts where you have the requisite sushi, donburi, and teppanyaki.
It’s a tried and true formula, yes, and it works for less adventurous eaters, but for those with more intrepid palates (ahem), head on over to Omakase.
In Japanese, omakase literally means “entrusting.” In a restaurant context, the word means “putting your trust in the chef,” eating whatever the chef feels like cooking for you. An order of omakase arguably puts more pressure on the chef to create an excellent meal out of the freshest foods he has, to reward and retain a valued customer’s trust in him.
It all sounds very noble and a bit scary, admittedly. But at the Omakase restaurant in Alabang (another branch along Libis), you can trust that an excellent meal is what you’ll get. Leave your taste inhibitions at the door, and you will be rewarded.
Once you have the menu, ignore ”˜the usual’ and concentrate on the chef’s specialties. I for one, adore uni, (sea urchin) because of its tantalizingly smooth texture. It’s the first thing I look for when I go to a Japanese restaurant, so I was delighted to find that the restaurant offered uni tempura (P165); and an order of uni sushi, made me uni-happy.
Omakase’s sushi offerings remind me of Wasabi’s, particularly their quasi-fusion sushi rolls.
Everyone wants the American Dream (P140), and I’m not talking about migration. Its edible counterpart is a sushi that’s deep-fried and stuffed with salmon, kani, and cream cheese. It’s a tad bland, but a few dips in wasabi and soy sauce give it kick. We also ordered the Jurassic Maki (P185), though why it’s so named, I have not a clue. This one’s a roll with ebi (shrimp) tempura, kani, ebiko, and salmon skin.
Whatever you do, you must try a piece of heaven called seafood dumpling (P105). It’s assorted seafood wrapped in nori that’s been deep-fried and then slathered in an exquisite sauce with sweet and sour interplays. The occasional crunch and then smoosh as your teeth bite into the crunchy skin and then sink into seafood is thisclose to divine.
I mention quite a few deep-fried foods here, but as any cook who knows her way in the kitchen will tell you, fried food will not be greasy if it’s cooked in oil that’s kept at a steady temperature.
Omakase serves a Japanese mayo sauce drizzled with their special brown sauce and sesame seeds. Just looking at it in all its glorious unctuousness is enough to send shivers down my spine. It’s that good. Use it to dip your sushi rolls in or whatever you feel like.
Other exceptional dishes here are the tofu steak ”“ fat hunks of semi-firm tofu rolled in tenderized beef and the chicken teriyaki, positively glistening in its sauce, and enough of it to smear over hot white rice.
The only thing I wasn’t too happy with was the yaki udon, that ubiquitous of Japanese noodle dishes. The dish itself was off-putting in its pallor, (Sauce, sauce! Where’s the sauce?) and the initial taste of butter (huh?) is startling. It’s a dish that’s certainly not true to the authenticity and innovativeness of this fabulous Japanese restaurant find.
Casa Susana Arcade
Madrigal Ave., Ayala Alabang
E. Rodriguez Ave.,Libis
4370075 / 6376013