Showing posts with label Japanese Restaurant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese Restaurant. Show all posts

Friday, August 17, 2018

Tori Chizu: A Tasty Yoshoku Food Trip That's Both Japanese and French

August 17, 2018 0
Lunch with colleagues at Tori Chizu

Original post entry in my food blog: August 16, 2018

Japan's political and trade interactions with the western world in the 19th century, particularly during the Meiji restoration, brought a plethora of influences on its culinary practices.

Tori Chizu in Eastwood City Walk  

In a country where food preparation is considered an artistry, repackaging a foreign food into perfection is truly a masterpiece.

The meticulous Japanese chefs reinvented recipes out of this western influence by infusing oriental ingredients and applying their own style of preparing dishes to create special delicatessen they could claim their own.

Who would ever think Doria and Hambagu steak are not authentic Japanese creations? These unique recipes, known as Yoshoku dishes, are what Tori Chizu is trying to introduce to the foodies in the Philippines.

Yoshoku is not a specific meal in the menu list of Tori Chizu, but it is a Japanese term for a special recipe technique influenced by western dishes and perfecting it into "washoku" or Japanese food. Yoshoku in layman's term means "western influenced dishes".
Tori Chizu, a Japanese restaurant known for its cheesy Doria (a fusion of Japanese baked rice, melted mozzarella cheese and bechamel sauce), takes Yoshoku into a whole new level of delish flavors, combining authentic Japanese recipes and western ingredients.

This artistry in food preparation provided diners with distinct selections of Japanese comfort food.

Chicken Teriyaki Doria

Doria comes in a number of varieties and flavors, and Tori Chizu so far is the first Japanese restaurant in the Philippines to offer this kind of Yoshoku dish.

This is one of the Yoshoku recipes that originated in Europe and considered a French staple.

However, though this recipe traced its origin in France, the one who concocted this fusion was an Italian chef, Signiore Doria. It was then introduced to Japan in later century by a  French chef.

Spicy Tomato Shrimp Doria

Japanese Doria is the highlight of the menu of Tori Chizu. And its signature selection, the chicken teriyaki doria, is where the name of the restaurant stems.

Teriyaki-infused chicken (Tori) with overloaded cheese (chizu) has been touted to have how the restaurant came up with such name.

Chicken Teriyaki Doria

I've been to a number of Japanese restaurants in the metro and quite familiar with Japanese dishes but have not tried this Doria concoction.

I was also wondering how the food selections gonna taste if melted cheese is blended into the rice sizzling in oven. Sounds interesting!

Hambagu Steak Tomato and Garlic

Been planning for months to try any of Tori Chizu's cheesy fares after I saw it in the poster, so I suggested it to my colleagues, Carlo, Joliver, Mikko, Aya and Reyn, when the boys asked me two weeks ago to have a lunchout with them by August 15. 😜😄

Last Wednesday, finally, we gave it a go. It was a mid-morning when we had a lunchout, atmosphere was warm, so having to walk for almost 30 minutes in the city walk sounded like a terrible ordeal.

But the effort was all worth it.

Tori Chizu in Eastwood

The restaurant has a vibrant interior with hot peach and caramel hues that relaxed our mood for a warm brunch.

It's always good to dine outside with colleagues whom you could share humor and comfortable conversation with, it makes the dining experience more gratifying.

While gazing at the menu, my eyes darted at the Doria selections and a bit intrigued with Chicken Teriyaki Baked Rice.

It's Tori Chizu's signature dish and sounded palatable. So I settled with this selection. I like teriyaki recipe and the presence of creaminess added excitement.

Wednesday lunch out with colleagues

Chicken Teriyaki Doria is a fusion of baked rice covered with sizzling melted mozzarella cheese, bechamel sauce,  sprinkled with green onions and served in a hot plate/pan. A bubbling melted cheese in a hot plate with rice sounded mind blowing.

But when I took my first bite it felt as though I had tasted something I should not suppose to devour, the dish failed to capture my difficult palate.

Perhaps, due to pungent spices, but I find it a little unpleasant. I didn't like the combination of chicken teriyaki and melted cheese.

With Aya and Reyn

I find the recipe too bland and not flavorful enough to entice my usual Japanese taste bud.

In fact, I had mistaken the balls of chicken Teriyaki for tocino or chorizo, it was too sweet, something that did not compliment the salty flavor of mozzarella cheese.

But I love cheese, I like creamy food more than anything else so the whole Doria experience was quite okay but something that wouldn't make me go back to grab another bite again.

I figured, Doria concoctions should be eaten hot to savor the real taste of melted cheese and rice gratin. And experience the gooey cheese, otherwise it will turn tacky when the recipe cool down.

Aya and Reyn ordered the Spicy Tomato Shrimp Doria, a spicy number that seems to overpower the goodness of the melted cheese. But Aya and Reyn assured me the recipe tasted really flavorful.

On the other hand, Mikko, Carlo and Joliver opted for Hambagu Steaks, something I understood because Mikko is not into cheesy food.

Hambagu is another Yoshoku dish reinvented by the Japanese chefs from the western's Hamburger, infusing oriental flavors and adding some oriental flavors on it. 

The boys vouched the goodness of the recipe. And from the look on their faces, I guess, yeah, Hambagu Steak was equally satisfying as Doria selections.

Doria highlights popular Japanese dishes like Kani Takoyaki, Yakiniku and Curry fares. Flavors are not too strong and the presence of fresh cheese sizzling on the baked rice entices appetite.

But diners might get some overpowering spicy tones and the "too westernized" bechamel sauce. Something that should be expected when devouring Yoshoku dishes.

Apart from Chicken Teriyaki Doria (Php145.00) and Spicy Tomato Shrimp Baked Rice (Php155.00), other Doria concoctions available at Tori Chizu are Chizu Curry (Php155), Beef Yakiniku (Php175), Kani Takoyaki (Php155.00) and Sesame Chicken (Php155.00).

Japanese Doria might not be your typical oriental dish due to the influence of western flavors infused on the recipe but the blanket of melted cheese spread on the ubiquitous fares wipes off repugnance and can even help stimulate appetite.

Japanese Doria is a fusion of delicate spices and baked rice covered with the goodness of mozzarella cheese. Toppings come in different varieties, from chicken, shrimp, bacon to creamy dory. The melted cheese boosted the creaminess of the baked rice.
Hambagu steak

Another yoshoku dish introduced by Tori Chizu is the Hambagu Steaks. Premium burger steak mixed with Japanese rice and egg drizzled with gravy. I haven't tasted it but the boys said it was great and very savory.

Hambagu Steaks have selections in different recipe flavors. Swiss Cheese and Mushroom, Tomato and Garlic and Bacon and Pineapple.

Each selection is complete with rice, egg, gravy and topped with burger steak. Just like Doria, Hambagu meals are served on a hot plate and have enormous servings.

For diners who don't like Doria and Hambagu Steaks, you may opt to just stick to all-time traditional Japanese favorites like Mazemen, a broth-less ramen topped with egg.

There's umami-styled friend chicken, which is very affordable at Php89.00 for one piece and a cup of rice. Donburi meals, pasta, sandwich and some side dishes, miso soup and soft-serve iced cream are also available.

Interior of Tori Chizu in Eastwood

Tori Chizu might not be a type of a Japanese restaurant that I will keep getting back when I am hungry but their Doria fares are must-try and the melted cheese coating the baked rice is something that gives you a kick of comfort.

This Tori Chizu branch is located at the Ground level of A2-D Citywalk2, Eastwood, Libis, Quezon City. Opens at 10:00AM and closes at 2:00AM.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Savory Japanese Tonkotsu Ramen at Ramen Kuroda

June 22, 2018 0
Ramen is distinctively Japanese, both in taste and sense. And though this oriental concoction originated from China and only introduced in Japan in the late 19th century, it was the artistic culinary style of Japanese chefs that made ramen known to the world.

Ramen arguably is a savory oriental staple, however, since Japanese chefs reinvented this dish and enhanced its nature into a satisfying comfort food with luscious add-ons, its identity becomes thoroughly part of the Japanese cuisine. And has ever since moved on from being associated to a Chinese fare.

Japanese dishes boast a global reputation of having one of the most flavorful recipes in the world with each selection prepared into near perfection, no wonder it appealed to food-loving Filipinos. 

The dishes manifest the inexplicable 5th taste called umami, something that sets Japanese food apart from other intercontinental recipes. And next to sushi and maki, ramen is the most sought-after Japanese food in the Philippines among gastronome adventurers.

Morning ramen trip with colleagues.
Basking into the heart of Japanese cuisine 

Why this noodles staple becomes a hit among food lovers? 

Perhaps because it acts like a food therapy during cold weather. It warms up tummy and the Japanese delicate style of cooking captures senses and taste, even those with the most delicate appetite. It possesses a unique ability to satisfy one's hunger. I, myself constantly crave for a bowl of ramen when the weather is gloomy.

Days ago, this pang kicked in when the clock was inching closer to our lunch break (lunch break is just a figure of speech in the bpo industry, but actually it's still breakfast time 😄). It was a fine day. The sun had just rolled up beyond the skyscraping buildings along Eastwood and the environment is a bit warm, but since we're working in a place with a biting cold atmosphere, our tummies needed to be constantly warmed up to get on with the day.

My colleagues, Nikki, Aira. Randy, Scarlet, Jaja and Angge, immediately agreed with this oriental hankering and decided to have some taste of Japan  somewhere. Craving for an intercontinental recipe is not quite a problem when you're working in Eastwood, the place has been soaked up with varieties of restaurants offering a plethora of recipes from almost every culture. So when we agreed to go out for lunch it was not a long and painful discussion where to go. We took the easiest way - the Cybermall. Ramen Kuroda is situated on the third floor of the mall.

Ramen Kuroda has a minimalist interior which fairly demonstrates Japan's subtle culture. 

Honestly, I haven't been into this Japanese resto nor heard about it, though it has been in the Philippine soil for three years. So I was a bit excited to try their dishes. And oh, ramen in particular. When we got there, it was only 10:00 in the morning so it wasn't yet crowded. I've had enough time soaking up with my thoughts assessing the interior.

The place has a relaxing ambiance, washed up in a simple Asian home setting. Thoroughly oriental in furnishing, with a minimalist interior design that has only white and black hues, which is typical to a Japanese architecture. I easily felt at home.

It was a calm Wednesday morning and the homey atmosphere of Ramen Kuroda added to the pleasure of devouring  all things Japanese. When the crew handed us the menu book, my eyes fixed on the varieties of ramen. I was determined to gorge it alone without any side dish to savor the taste without any destruction from other food.

Kuro Ramen, a tasty homemade noodles in roasted garlic oil topped with tonkotsu and boiled egg. Php180.00 only! Per serving is already good for sharing 

Ramen Kuroda offers three basic ramen selections topped with a tonkotsu piece (tender pork slice) and hard boiled egg  - Shiro ramen, Kuro ramen and Aka ramen. I chose the Kuro ramen, though I've no idea what Kuro means lol! Later, when I made research, I've discovered that Kuro in Japanese term means a milk-based broth in garlic oil. Shiro  has a very basic taste of tonkotsu ramen according to its description in the menu while Aka ramen is the spicy version. I find the Kuro variety flavorful. It has a spike taste of roasted garlic and its smell is a little pungent but overall savory. I like the way spices coated the noodles, blending well to the garlic oil which makes Kuro ramen flavorful . Though I'm not into pork, I took the tonkotsu piece topping since it was tenderly boiled.

Don't be confused with tonkotsu and tonkatsu. Although they both referred to meat. Tonkotsu refers to a pork bone broth while tonkatsu refers to a deep-fried breaded pork.

The Kuro ramen set

 Angge taking time mixing the flavorful Kuro ramen 

 Ramen teriyaki pork don set with tidbits of fresh fruits

 Scarlet having a great time devouring a bowl of tonkotsu ramen with a glass of green mango shake 

The milky broth of Kuro ramen rocks! 

My colleagues picked the ramen set because it has additional dishes and more budget-friendly. With only Php320.00 per set you'll have a bowl of ramen, teriyaki pork don and fresh fruits, this serving is already good for sharing. I didn't grab a glass of fruit shakes but the rest of my friends sampled the refreshing coolers. And according to them it has a taste of authentic fruits with less ice granules.

Nikki enjoying a bowl of rice with Teriyaki pork don and a glass of delicious mango shake

Aira  ready to gorge the Kuro ramen 

I've been to many Japanese restaurants in the country and tried different preparations of ramen but still couldn't figure out which one offered the best. Each restaurant boasts a delectable recipe with a distinct flavor, making it hard to pick which one is the best. However, as unique as the Japanese cuisine itself, the  style of  preparation demonstrates what Japan's island of Kyushu, where ramen recipes have been honed to perfection, has been known for, a luscious ramen that digs into the heart of Japan's subtle dining and culture. At Ramen Kuroda this ramen recipe version just did its mission in providing Filipino epicureans with the best homemade Japanese tonkotsu ramen. It also offers the best value of money without sacrificing the quality of taste. Truly comforting!

Unlike other Japanese restaurants in the country with a ramen specialty, Ramen kuroda offers a delectable selection that won't break a bank. Each ramen bowl costs only Php180.00, while the ramen set of teriyaki pork or chicken pork don with tidbits of fresh fruits costs Php320.00. The ramen chashumen bowl (with additional and larger tonkotsu) is only Php230.00.

For diners who wouldn't want a bowl of ramen, the place has other options in the menu to devour, the bento set (with rice, half ramen, salmon, ebi tempura, teriyaki chicken) Php500.00 and the typical rice toppings, choices of teriyaki pork don and chicken don for only Php240.00.

Ramen Kuroda serves authentic Japanese tonkotsu ramen and other oriental dishes so if you're into things Japanese and looking for some variations in your food adventure, this restaurant is worth a visit. The Eastwood branch opens at 10:00 in the morning and located on the third floor of Cybermall.

Special thanks to Aira, Angge and Nikki for providing me great photos for this post. And to Scarlet, Randy and Jaja for being great food buddies.

Until our next food trip guys 😄😁

Monday, April 23, 2018

Yabu: Bracing the ritual of creating your own katsu sauce

April 23, 2018 0
Only quite a few number of Filipino folks are crazy about Japanese cuisine. Luckily, I'm one of them. And it's easy to guess why.

I'm extremely drawn to its inexplicable taste of flavors. And the palatable varieties.

I'm a typical Asian who loves everything about oriental dishes. And when it comes to oriental restaurants, I would not look further beyond a Japanese resto.

There's something about Japanese restaurants that draws my palate. Perhaps, it's the distinct flavors.

Succulent. Delectable. Magical.

This awesome uniqueness can be attributed to the country's long-cherished tradition of preparing dishes. Japan is home to the best cuisine in the world. Because Japanese are meticulous people. They're known to have prepared their dishes with great attention to details and taste. And always healthy and savory. As though there's always some secret hidden behind the flavor. The taste pinches to the bones, and down to the core. Terrific!

Japanese food never grows old. It has a long history of enticing diners with its luscious flavors. And it never runs out of tricks stimulating one's appetite. And anyone who's into Japanese dishes is going crazy with its plethora of recipes. The sushi craze, the ramen craze, the maki craze. And in recent years, the katsu craze. There's always an exciting discovery of flavors waiting in a Japanese restaurant.

And at YABU, my love for Japanese dishes only intensifies.

Dubbed as the House of Katsu, Yabu has been reaping praises from diners in the past years due to its high-end Katsu meals. According to its official website, chefs at Yabu in Metro Manila branches have been trained under chef Kazuya Takeda, popularly known as the Master of Katzu in Tonkatsu Takeshin, a famous Tonkatsu restaurant in Tokyo, Japan. Which explains why the Katsu meals at Yabu so far are the best Katsu  in the Philippines.

We visited the Yabu branch at UP Town Center last weekend and the atmosphere was perfect for a scorching summer weather. Light interior with a direct view of the garden. Cool! It was a blistering Sunday noon and we wanted nothing but a cozy place to relax over conversation and good food.

Jeff is my constant companion in all of my food adventures since last year and I am always confident I would end up an incredible meal each time I am with him. And in all our food trips, I always let him decide which one in the menu is perfect for a hungry appetite. 😁😁 He is quite expert in comprehending culinary terms and what suits my palate so I let him pick the best one.

Normally, when we're dining together, we never settled on similar dishes, we usually chose two kinds so that we could taste both. In this food outing, he chose a Katsu meal set and a bowl of Mozarella Katsu sticks. This Katsu set consists of creamy dory katsu, shredded cabbage and one cup of brown rice with sesame seeds on top.

Perfect lunch at Yabu!

And we're off to some ritual.

Japanese menu, as everybody knows, never runs out of tricks in captivating diners' appetite. It seems there is always new to delve on. And at Yabu, something new is bound to discover.

Creating our own Katsu sauce!

I've been to a number of Japanese restaurants in the city but I've never encountered such ritual as this.

Katsu meal and a bowl of mozarella katsu sticks with cheesy awesomeness!

At Yabu, diners are treated to distinct yummy sauces!

So how this ritual goes on?

First, you have to see this oval-shaped ceramic jar in front. It contains the Tonkatsu sauce. Then the waiter will give a small bowl of black and white sesame seeds. It must be pounded into powdery pieces. Jeff did the labor 😅 And I was more ecstatic while looking on because as sesame seeds crushed, the aromatic scent draped around.

It stimulates my appetite and sets my mood for a hearty lunch.

Jeff pounding the sesame seeds

After crushing the sesame seeds, we were told to get at least two scoops of Tonkatsu sauce from the ceramic jar and poured it to the crushed sesame seeds to create a perfect Katsu sauce. Incredible!

The aromatic smell filled the air with enticing scent that intensifies my hunger 😅 

Two scoops of Tonkatsu sauce, mixing it with the crushed sesame seeds,
and you will have a perfect Katsu sauce!

Scrumptious Mozarella Katsu sticks!

At Yabu, you will be introduced to a variety of sauces, some of which you might have not tasted in your life, just be careful with mixing each, you might not like the outcome. Because some of those are really strange. But with an adventurous palate, each sauce offers something new. A new flavor of excitement. It never bores you as long as it goes down to the tummy.

My best experience at Yabu however is creating our own Katsu sauce and devouring the Katsu meal and the Mozarella sticks! The Japanese breadcrumbs, known as the fresh Panko, are great coating for dishes and I like its texture. Its close to perfection.

And one thing I adored about Japanese dishes is the way it cooked and prepared. Meticulous, grand, enticing, sumptious. And did I say healthy? Yes. I've heard at Yabu they used Canola oil instead of those unhealthy lard.

You can have your own Yabu experience by visiting any branches of Yabu in Metro Manila. Trust me, you will never regret the trip. It's the best Katsu experience!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Decadent Kumori Cheese Tart

July 09, 2017 0
I haven’t gone to a cozy café shop in a while. Been awfully busy with other stuff, loping off with some editing task on my books. And though I’ve gone quite a few times to oriental restaurants, I didn’t get a chance to drop by at any bistro for a warm cup of tea. Something I sorely missed.

Until lately.

Last Saturday, July 1st, I took off from writing to go elsewhere and spent time with a friend, moseying around, and just let moments passed by over conversation, laughter and food. It was a snug afternoon, though raining, but the atmosphere was perfectly comfy.

UP Town Center indeed is a perfect place to hang around. Surprisingly quiet! You can engage on a long, private conversation with someone without competing with the noise of blaring cars and raucous mall goers.

But before enjoying a cup of tea and coffee at CBTL, my friend brought me to Kumori, a Japanese bake shop with a wide selection of delectable pastries and mouth-watering desserts (a little strange because I always associated a Japanese food counter with Maki and Sashimi). Then bought a scrummy tart called, well simply, cheese tart (no trimming of overflowing descriptions lol!) for me to try.

The decadent Kumori Cheese Tart. Photo credit:
Haven't taken a single photo of the cheese tart I gorged (maybe I was too excited to eat the concoction and Jeff did not bother taking one! 😄) but the above photo from looloo site is exactly the same as the one I've tried.

It was so insanely scrumptious!

Okay, I have no penchant over sweet food. I detested the sugary feel of cakes. And unlike other girls who yearned sweet desserts as badly as they longed for chocolates and roses during valentine’s day, I never crave for cakes and chocolate mousse.

There is something in it that made my appetite churn in repugnance. It’s the ugly spike of plain sugar in pastries perhaps. I find it revolting. But I love to devour cheese cake! I always love creamy and cheesy food and all the awesomeness of tarts and buttery fusion.

Kumori cheese tart is just so luscious! It perfectly suited my flimsy appetite over pastries. It has a very smooth texture. Cheesy but not overly greasy. Velvety but not watery. A fine balance of a creamy smoothness and the silky consistency of a cheese!

This custard tart variety is quite delicate. So don't rush (just like what I did haha!) when you take a bite. The moment you nibble the tart, the core easily slithers, maybe due to its very creamy texture, and the crust easily crumbles, so take it cautiously. 

To eat it without splintering the crispy tart shell, take a few, cautious nip of the milky part (the core itself) before nibbling the crust. It won’t spill a mess in your mouth, trust me. You can savor the creamy taste afterwards.

The downside? Quite pricey! Jeff (Thank you so much!) paid P60.00 for just a single piece (smaller than the size of a regular cupcake). And for a few seconds I gazed it like I’ve just seen a magical stuff laying beneath the cutie transparent wrap. Too transfixed (over the high price) to gobble it. Until he nudged me to eat it. 

I wolfed it within 10 seconds. And the P60.00 was gone. Nah! You’ll get the value of your money though. It’s no ordinary cheese tart. It’s incredibly different from those dull tarts crowding the bakeshops around the metro. It’s a decadent sweetie concoction you can indulge once in a while. A perfect treat for yourself after a tiring week. 

Photo credit:

Kumori Japanese Bakery is located at the ground level of UP Town Center, Katipunan, Quezon City, with branches along SM Makati and SM North Edsa.


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