Move Over, Ramen; Kazunori’s Karai Niku Soba is the Japanese Noodle Dish You’ve Gotta trySeptember 8, 2018
Japanese cuisine intrigues for many reasons, among them its simplicity vis-a-vis its attention to detail. Take a piece of salmon nigiri for example: essentially just raw fish and seasoned rice, it sounds deceptively plain on paper—but make it with the freshest seafood and rice that’s cooked and seasoned just enough and served at the right temperature, and it transforms into a magnum opus to be savored like a work of art. Because there is little to hide behind, care must be given to using best-quality ingredients and proper execution—aspects separate good from great Japanese fare. This is a philosophy well understood and embodied by Kazunori, a three-pronged Japanese spot that offers both traditional and modern Japanese bites.
Kazunori lies in a semi-hidden spot within the Mazda along ever-busy Chino Roces Avenue, Makati, hailing from the same owners as well-loved ramen joints Yushoken and Mendokoro Ramen, with Japanese chef Kazunori Kuramochi ensuring quality at par with what you’ll find in Japan. The restaurant is divided into three parts: a seated area with izakaya favorites, a sushi bar for omakase dining, and aptly-named Kazu Cafe with more casual and contemporary bites (a few entries being of the Western-influnenced yoshoku genre). Contrary to the often long and winding izakaya menus that span pages and pages, Kazunori’s is relatively short; and contrary to the more modern fusion-type Japanese establishments that pile flavor on flavor on flavor, their offerings may read as excessively conservative or common. Make no mistake though, Kazunori stands out with great ingredients, flown in from Japan at peak freshness or ripeness; and its focus on proper technique, that you can expect standout renditions, no matter what you order. Here are the items we cannot recommend enough:
Tomato Shiso Salad
If there’s one dish at Kazunori that best reflects their proclivity toward simplicity and detail, it’s this salad, which features just three main components: tomatoes, shiso leaves, and paper-thin slices of onions. Flown in from Japan, the produce is of impeccable quality—the tomatoes ultra-succulent, the shiso minty, the onions juicy and sweet—that you’ll want to savor them at their most austere. Though they barely need anything else, mixing in the katsuoboshi served on the side (which comes so intricately shaved such that it resembles confetti) imparts a mellow umami hum that does a great job of tying all parts together into a sum more than its parts, without distracting the palate.
Karai Niku Soba
As with Yushoken and Mendokoro, Kazunori’s soba noodles are made in-house, its recipe having been developed and perfected with the aid of a soba specialist from Japan. Of the few different ways they can be had here our vote goes to the Karai Niku Soba: soba noodles served cold, with a spicy dipping sauce served on the side. The noodles are cooked to a wonderful al dente, bearing the distinct earthy, nutty flavor of Japanese buckwheat, while the dipping sauce carries a robust meatiness and mid-level heat that well warms the stomach. Coming at a consistency right in between a soup and a stew, it clings onto noodles with ease as you dip, and comes brimming with thin yakiniku beef strips that satisfy with its filling, meaty bite.
A restaurant with both classic and modern Japanese bites, with ingredients flown in from Japan.