Comforting Japanese food | Inquirer Lifestyle
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Comforting Japanese food

Have you ever thought of Japanese dishes as comfort food?

It’s not far-fetched, even as you admire the artistry of the preparation. Consider how tea is served almost always ceremoniously. Or how sauces, with their unique flavors, enhance the soups. Think shrimp tempura or even chicken teriyaki. How fresh and clean they always taste.

Perhaps satiated with the heavy meals this diner has been having, a refuge was sought in two comparatively small Japanese restaurants for comforting meals.

Kessaku
Commerce Center, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa

This place gets full by midday but if you come early, get ready to experience the serenity of a typical Japanese dining hall.

Dining area: Interior colors are mauve and beige. There is enough room for movement between tables. The sun comes through the glass windows, a plus.

Service: A small tray of kani salad is served upon being seated, then the menu card is presented. There is nothing like fast and efficient service, and here the diner gets it. Hot water is served instead of the usual hot tea—no explanation. But one can still order tea, at a price.

Staff: The young women are friendly and fast to explain the menu and write down the orders.

Suggested orders: Because our group wanted food that’s easy on the tummy but satisfying, one lady, without even looking at the menu, asked for a steaming bowl of miso soup. This is a perfect for an empty stomach.

The flavor of dashi (bonito fish flakes used in many Japanese dishes) gives it that unique Japanese taste.

The lady was definitely happy with her starter while the rest went through the list and later settled for the traditional sukiyaki, a name that was supposed to have originated from the words “suki,” meaning hoe or like and “yaki,” broiled.

Great choice, an order of which was good for sharing among three people. Again the taste of the dashi pervaded, just as a hint of sake (Japanese wine) and sugar was. Nothing can be more soothing and filling than this—the meat tender and the vegetables truly fresh.

This diner chose the gindara, perfectly grilled in a very subtle sauce. Then the sushi and sashimi came, as well as the prawn tempura.

There was no need for dessert or coffee; the meal was comforting indeed. Our budget was well-spent at this place.

Service charge and government taxes are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.
Rating
– 3 Spoons

Sensei
268 Aguirre St., BF Homes, Paranaque; tel. 3581887
Because this restaurant is sandwiched between unrelated stores and bearing an insignificant sign that could hardly be seen, it was difficult to find.

Dining area: This is almost like a hole in the wall by its size. Rather small but cozy, and written on the blackboard on the main wall were some interesting dishes.

Service: A seemingly tentative efficiency is discerned. Tea has to be ordered as well.

Staff: All informally dressed in tees and shirts. There is one who seemed to be the supervisor who gave info on the dishes when asked.

Suggested orders: There must be a chef in the kitchen who is trying to make Japanese food a fusion of different cuisines.

The sashimi included thin slices of lapu-lapu marinated in the house sauce—innovative and refreshing.

Then the “fusion” began, not quite successfully as conceived. There were paella balls, actually squid balls done with pimentón and garlic but missing the paella flavors. Perhaps the chef needs saffron and paprika?

The seared tuna was another “invention”—done with ginger and garlic, with roasted pineapples, mushrooms and shallots. It was artistically presented but the essence of tuna was somewhat lost in the inclusion of many elements.

There was fish taco, but we recommend orders of traditional Japanese dishes which it does well.

Service charge is added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating
– 2 spoons with reservation.