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THE QUIET DINER

Japanese ‘tonkatsu’ franchise invades Manila

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The daily traffic jam in Makati prevented this diner from going farther than Serendra. The diner ended up in a new restaurant, a Japanese cutlet. It was one of the alternatives which proved very practical and delicious.

Saboten, Japanese Cutlet restaurant is in Serendra, Bonifacio Global City (tel. 6252000). It doesn’t accept reservations, hence diners are advised to go there early. The place gets full shortly after 12 noon, but if one must wait, it will be worth it.

The resto has conquered not only the foodies in Japan through its 500 plus outlets, but also, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand and even Canada. First established in 1966, the chain has maintained courteous service and an impeccable selection of delicious cutlets which are called “tonkatsu.”

New in the Philippines, it is bound to be a favorite, if it is not already.

Dining area—Looking like a typical Japanese restaurant, the interior is done in natural finish, airy and bright. There are nooks for small groups, at the most for six . There are shoji screens on one side of the dining area. It exudes a very quiet ambiance, conducive to savoring food.

Service—Guests are led to tables and handed the menu folder that carries photos of their offerings. Cups of tea are served.

Staff—Courteous in the manner of the traditional Japanese hosts. They are knowledgeable about the dishes they offer. They are alert, as in quickly replenishing tea.

Suggested menu—Because cutlets are what they offer, one gets a choice or choices from a selection of tonkatsu. But an offer of shredded cabbage is difficult to reject. It is a heap of the veggie and the staff will explain that it should be topped with dressing. An interesting way to make the tonkatsu sauce is demonstrated—in a small bowl are sesame seeds. One is given a short piece of wood to grind the seeds. When done, a thick dark sauce is poured into the bowl.

The tonkatsu can then be dipped into it. It should be noted that Japanese food is normally accompanied by different sauces. It was difficult to remember all their names, but some of them are sesame-based.

Anyway, before going to the main courses, one must not miss the miso soup, so flavorful this diner and company asked for seconds and thirds. They obliged. Follow this up with the refreshing crisp Chicken Salad in Bang Bang Ji sauce which is light and sweetish. The restaurant offers the most premium cuts of beef and pork, as the tempura is also super. Take the Original Tenderloin Set or have the Sharing Set for two consisting of two Deep-Fried Shrimps, One Loin Cutlet so tender this melts in the mouth; two Crab Cream Croquettes and two Rolled Cutlets , filled with either plum or cheese of asparagus. The coatings are all crispy. After this one might still be ready for dessert—a piece of cake or ice cream. Or perhaps more tea.

Usual service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating: 3 Spoons


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