Where to Eat at Little Tokyo, Pasong TamoApril 7, 2014
Little Tokyo along Pasong Tamo can be intimidating for newcomers, owing to the authenticity of the place. The restaurant inside the compound are run by the owners themselves, a group of Japanese men and women who have made the Philippines home. You can easily find sushi, ramen, or any other Japanese favorite of yours in almost any restaurant there. Most, if not all the ingredients of the restaurants found in the Little Tokyo are imported from Japan, but you can find a decent meal for around PHP 200 if you know where to look. In fact, there are one or two restaurants here that have prices comparable to local chains serving Japanese cuisine, but with higher quality food.
For the busy working Makati folks, a number of restaurants offer bento, or packaged lunches, as weekday lunch specials. These usually included an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. If you’re in for a real food trip, try the restaurant’s house specialties. Chances are, you won’t easily find anything similar at any other commercialized Japanese establishment in Metro Manila.
If you’ve never been to Little Tokyo, allow us to shed a little light over this small slice of Japan hiding in the heart of Metro Manila. Perhaps, we’ll even manage to convince you to trek all the way to Makati just for a taste.
Right next to Little Tokyo’s entrance is Kikufuji, known for its sushi and for being one of the first Shinjuku Ramen branches in Metro Manila.
Yamazaki is a Japanese grocery with a wing for dining in, that offers the usual sushi, gyoza, and ramen, with flavors that appeal even to members of the Japanese community for just the right price.
Some swear that Seryna has the best sushi in Little Tokyo. Maybe it’s because the produce they use in their dishes are flown in fresh from Japan.
In the compound itself are several “garden restaurants.” Hana is best known for their yakitori (Japanese barbeque) and takoyaki (a popular Japanese street snack made with bits of octopus and topped with bonito flakes), freshly grilled for every order.
They also have an extensive selection of sake, umeshuu (plum wine), beers, and Japanese desserts such as kakigori or flavored shaved ice.
Kagura serves okonomiyaki, a savory pancake. Customers can choose from several different varieties of okonomiyaki and pick their own toppings. Order a beer and sit by the bar to watch your okonomiyaki being made. It’s a fun sight to see.
Also, if you’re a Japanese baseball aficionado, Kagura’s owners are huge fans of the Hanshin Tigers and have decorated the place with the team’s merchandise.
Dojo Dairy Ice Cream
New to the neighborhood is Dojo Dairy Ice Cream. They offer green tea, wasabi, and miso sake flavored ice cream, and you can even buy them by the pint. If you’re not feeling particularly wild, no need to fret, they also have buttercream, lemon, and strawberry-banana flavors.
Urameshiya serves yakiniku, or grilled meat. On weekdays they are only open for dinner service, which starts at six in the evening. Watch out for their “eat all you can” promo that occurs once every few months for around PHP 500 per head.
On the other side of the compound is Riozen, which also serves sushi, yakitori, and nabe, or Japanese hotpot. The owner comes from Okinawa, a southern region of Japan, and she sometimes offers special Okinawan treats on certain days.
Nodasho is hailed by Japanese locals as a place that serves dishes that are taste just as good as those back home. They have a lot to choose from on their menu, and also offer seasonal dishes.
They serve the notorious fugu (pufferfish) dish every December, but don’t worry, if you try it their experienced chefs will make sure that you live to tell the tale.
Little Tokyo is one of the easiest ways to experience authentic Japanese food without having to spend a fortune or buy a plane ticket. Aside from the restaurants mentioned here, there are many other establishments that serve good food and deserve your patronage in the compound. Exploring on your own and finding hidden culinary treasures in Little Tokyo is part of the fun, so don’t be afraid to wander.