New Restaurant Alert: Banzai at Seaside Boulevard, MOA Complex, Pasay
The Japanese buffet that takes you to Japan (sort of).
Banzai: The Great Teppanyaki Theater
Building J, By the Bay Leisure Park, Seaside Boulevard, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City
Tel. No. 552-7368, 0916-377-5357, 0999-471-3597
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Banzai elaborates on what the Sumo Sam Group has done so far in spreading Japanese food in the Philippines via Mr. Kurosawa, John and Yoko, Akira, and the eponymous Sumo Sam. The 1,200-square meter seaside space is divided to embrace a more comprehensive look into Japanese culture-modern, traditional, sumo-and, as one of the restaurants in the MOA Complex's "buffet strip," offers unlimited servings of Japanese food.
"You know how some restaurants focus on one thing like ramen or katsu?" explains brand manager Leah Estrada. "We have it all in Banzai." There’s no specialty, she says.
But a buffet is a specialty in itself. There are simply too many nowadays, with most offering the same icy mounds of shellfish, shiny carving stations, tiny fruit tartlets, and chocolate fountains. A buffet demands attention, and you'll need something special to sustain that attention.
For Banzai, it's the almost exclusively Japanese buffet, which encompasses all-time Japanese favorites: tempura, ramen, katsu, sushi, sashimi, karaage, and even uni, those briny orange-brown urchin...parts...that are creamier than the most tender salmon. The takoyaki are especially noteworthy: soft balls of rice reveal a meaty octopus core brightened by Japanese mayonnaise and fresh bonito flakes.
Teppanyaki is a theater show at Banzai. In the evenings, chefs perform on the iron griddle, creating tender meat by tossing, twisting, and juggling them over a high fire. The result: salty cubes of beef, juicy morsels of chicken, flavorful shreds of pork. You know you're about to go on and look for the rice.
The ingredients are sourced from Japan and Japanese chefs take the lead in the kitchen. "We really want it to be an authentic Japanese experience," says Leah. There is one row, however, that serves European dishes like quiche.
Different parts of the restaurant are styled like subcultures of Tokyo.
Those lanterns were hand-carried to Manila.
A glimpse of the Trick Art Museum. You can wear a costume and get lost in the setting.
You can tell there's effort to entertain guests and not just in a gustatory sense. On some days, there's a cultural exhibition, the most recent one being a demo on samurai techniques. There's also a modest trick art gallery where customers can dress themselves up as sumo wrestlers or put on other traditional costumes to simulate a scene.
Banzai is a Japanese expression for "10,000 years" or as others would say, "Long live!" When faced with unlimited uni, ramen, katsu, and sushi though, the only mantra running through your head is this: you only have one life, make the most of it. Eat.
Buffet prices are P699 (adults, weekday lunch), P899 (adults, weekday dinner), and P1,088 (weekends and holidays). Prices for children below 4.5 feet is P499. Children below 3.5 feet eat for free.