The restaurant's claim to fame, Ebi Ten Maki, is a must-try!
Hanakazu's claim to fame, the Ebi Ten Maki.
When to go: Hanakazu is mostly patronized by residents from the BF and Alabang area, so peak hours are usually Friday night and weekend meal times, especially after the Saturday and Sunday masses. It's best to reserve a table if you're planning to go on a weekend so as not to be turned away at the door.
The Beef Yakimeshi was so good that I almost cleaned out the entire plate before remembering to take a picture.
What to eat: Start off with the Sanriku Salad (fresh greens and seaweed, P140) and a Potato Salad (P90), which the wait staff recommends you have with the Tonkatsu sauce. If you're craving for sushi, their hands-down best-seller and claim to fame is the Ebi Ten Maki (P240 per order), deep fried shrimp that's slathered in Mr. Otsuka's special secret sauce that's been gleaned from 26 years of experience, with bits of seaweed sprinkled all over the roll. Other Japanese restaurants have something like the Ebi Ten Maki on their menus, but none make it as crunchy and as explosive in the mouth as Mr. Otsuka - the owner and sole sushi chef at Hanakazu. Other favorites are the Wagyu Karubi Yaki (P980, silky soft and tasty Wagyu beef) and the Shishamo (the small smelt fish order comes in 4 pieces, P180), its salty-crunchy combination a perfect appetizer or a complementary dish to sushi or a rice dish. Japanese natives get the special treatment as they have a whiteboard menu that's presented to them upon seating. The menu is a matrix of Japanese characters and lists down the different specials for the day. You can ask Mr. Otsuka to translate the menu for you, but he's found that not very many Filipinos are interested in what the Japanese are eating, as they are often too attached to their usual rice topping dishes (like the Beef Yakimeshi or fried rice, P280), sushi and Wagyu beef.
Try the green tea ice cream for dessert - for regulars, it's on the house.
The Scene: Families from the nearby villages fill the tables and booths of Hanakazu. The yellow and red interior gives it a cozy, earthy feel, and the path leading to the two function rooms and the bathrooms boasts of an entrance that's even better than the main entrance of Hanakazu. Feel free to chat it up with Lorna Otsuka (co-owner and wife of Mr. Otsuka) - she's the fabulous looking woman behind the cashier.
Insider's Tips: Don't talk about Mr. Otsuka in front of him - he's fluent in Tagalog!