Urashima

It must be good if Japanese nationals keep eating at this BF Paranaque restaurant.

When to Go: All three visits at Urashima revealed a packed house each time. However, although the place gets full for lunch and dinner, it's still ok to walk-in as the place is spacious enough to accommodate everyone with its two-floor set-up.

What to Eat
: It's hard to decide what to eat at Urashima. One of the reasons is because it has a lot of menus, with the entrée 'book' being the heaviest of the bunch. They get plus points for the clear pictures but reductions for not translating the Japanese names of each dish into English. Their special starter dish changes on a daily basis, so you could get the grilled tuna (which deceptively tastes like beef) or the boiled squid - it really depends on the chefs behind the counter.

urashima, iced tea

Iced tea and grilled tuna at Urashima

Their Bento Box #1 is a tried and tested favorite and is served with spaghetti and mayonnaise salad, three pieces of tuna and salmon sashimi, ebi (shrimp) tempura, tofu, and rice. The salmon sashimi melts in your mouth and you'll probably want to order an entire dish on its own.

urashima, bento box

Bento Box #1

The Princess Urashima Roll (Php 235) doesn't disappoint. If you love unagi (eel) and ebi (shrimp) tempura, then this crunchy sushi is for you. The Gyudon (Php 275) is comprised of savory beef strips that have a sprinkling of sesame seeds atop a bed of Japanese rice and is perfect for those who must have their rice bowl dish.

urashima, gyudon

Beef Gyudon

If you're in the mood for splurging, then order their house-specialty, the Lobster Sashimi. The lobster is imported fresh from Japan and you have to order it 3 days in advance because they will only ship the lobster upon receiving your request.

The Scene: One of the first things you'll notice about Urashima is the abundance of waitresses. At one point, there were three servers hovering over our table, which in my opinion is two servers too many. I prefer a dining experience wherein the staff is only around when you need them and is conveniently within eyesight, but otherwise out of your table's way. Additionally, not all of the staff knew the 'ins and outs' of the menu. When I asked to be pointed to the chef's recommendation for sushi, I was met with a blank stare, and then was finally led to the Moriawase Special, which was the most expensive thing on the menu (Php 1,100.00); the Moriawase was basically a sushi sampler and not what I was looking for. It would have sufficed to be pointed to their "best-sellers" page - but unfortunately, no one mentioned it and it was buried in the last pages of their main booklet; I only found it after we had already ordered our meal.

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It's always reassuring to see a lot of Japanese nationals eating at Urashima - if they endorse this restaurant, then it must be good. Urashima doesn't have the homey and family-run feel of its BF Paranaque neighbor, Hanakazu, so if you're looking for a more compact and refined menu, I'd skip Urashima entirely and head to Hanakazu. But what Urashima doesn't have in intimacy, it makes up for in its plethora of offerings and in its steadfast endorsement by Japanese, Korean and Filipino residents of Paranaque. I have yet to eat on the second floor, where I've seen only middle-aged Japanese men go. The larger private room is located on the second floor, with the smaller one on the first floor.

Insider's Tip: Order as many cups of the green tea - it's free. Check-out their website (www.urashima.ph) for special discounts and coupons. The Cavite Urashima branch is slated to open in late July/early August, so if you're in the Laguna/Cavite area, there's no need to trek to Paranaque.

Restaurant Urashima is located at 76 President's Avenue, Teoville, BF Homes, Paranaque with telephone number 820-9895.

Images taken by Cathy Paras-Lara

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