You can rarely go wrong with any of the established Japanese Restaurants in Little Tokyo in Makati City. There will always be a natural tendency to weed out those that serve the same type of food that is inferior to its neighboring restaurant. And so it has come to pass that the frequent diners in the area will have their favorite. Some may go for the well balanced and clean looking Seryna, others probably with the not to far off yet great value-for-money Nihonbashi-Tei in Pasay Road.
But when mentioning Japanese cuisine in Little Tokyo, Makati, it is hard not to think of the very restaurant that probably is top of mind here: Izakaya Kikufuji.
Kikufuji in Little Tokyo Makati has won countless accolades and raves over the years since it opened shop. What is in it that makes it one of the best? For one, it is definitely the food. The other one, is it provides quite an authentic izakaya experience.
An izakaya is basically a Japanese drinking establishment where food accompanies the drinks. The mood is very casual, and is really popular in Japan especially after those long hours of work (Japanese work an average of 9 hours of either paid or unpaid work a day, so you can imagine why they would need one great swig of beer, or an energy drink)
When you finally get that valuable parking space in front of Kikufuji and slide that door open, this is what an izakaya experience is all about:
It is nothing short of a mix of everything. The noise of running water to keep fish alive and fresh, the smell of sizzling yakitori mixing with whiskey drunk salarymen taking their clients out, the chopping of the boards and the waiters or sushi chefs yelling out a completed order from the middle island that serves as the main attraction of Kikufuji. It’s all so frantic, and it’s all so fun.
And if you see mostly Japanese patronizing this place compared to the others around it, they must have good stuff.
Eating alone in an izakaya is not uncommon, as a little “me time” to just be one with the food and an ice cold beer (or iced coffee) is all that is needed to reinvigorate the soul. And wow does Kikufuji do that well.
How do they do it? By having fresh ingredients, good technique, right amount of timing to serve the dish, and made by skillful hands of the sushi chefs laboring away at the counter, supervised by a head chef of Japanese in origin.
Don’t let their Backstreet Boys pose fool you. They can wield those knives with great precision for your sushi platter.
Speaking of sushi platters, their sushi platter costs about PHP 450.00 which includes some appetizers of greens, a possible complimentary stack of spicy tuna tartare, and iced coffee (Still haven’t figured out why the iced coffee, but it is a great way to end the meal.)
Just take a moment to look at that beauty. It’s a good thing this is a picture of food or else it may be slapped with an R-18 rating.
Everything tastes fresh, and the ratio of rice to the neta (the viand portion) is just right. On the far right, those maki style sushi is actually filled with fatty tuna. These had a very soft texture and will probably be a crowd favorite. The other one would be the torched mackerel that is brushed with a semi-sweet sauce. The uni can vary. Sometimes it is a bit sweet and soft, sometimes it is a bit gritty with the briny flavor very pronounced. Either way, finish off with the tamago (egg), as it feels like the dessert part of this dish.
Oh, and before digging into that meal, best to learn the proper way of eating sushi.
It may look like a small meal, but it can be a big wallop in your stomach if you eat it with a respectable pace. This is more than enough for a decent lunch. If you are still looking for more, get some of the spicy tuna sushi or their Yakitori. Admittedly as of this post, Nanbantei of Tokyo still has the best Yakitori in the metro, but the ones in Kikufuji come pretty close. And when you chug this down with an ice cold beer, your troubles just melt away.
It’s become quite a quest lately to find some of the best Japanese restaurants in the metro, and yet time after time, the drive to look for a restaurant always ends up in this side of town where Little Tokyo just has the charm to match that appetite for sushi. Just bear with the parking, and you can get yourself some of the best sushi in one of the best izakaya places in Metro Manila.
It will be a sad day if Kikufuji suddenly disappears.
Izakaya Kikufji is located at the Little Tokyo complex along Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City, Philippines
Tel. Nos. +632-893-7319
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