CHECK IT OUT: 5th Taste at P. Guevarra Street, San Juan
Can you say umami?
453 P. Guevarra Street, San Juan
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday); 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Friday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) It may be difficult to find 5th Taste at first, but you can’t miss it once you know where it is. Located on the second floor of Tamayaki, a takoyaki and milk-tea restaurant next to a car service shop along main road P. Guevarra in San Juan, 5th Taste is a Japanese fusion restaurant whose dishes fall between tradition and novelty.
Miso broth and silken tofu make their usual appearance in the Deconstructed Miso Soup (P98), but this version has a surprise guest: pork floss. The soup is rich, and that extra element adds the "fifth taste" that ties together the dishes in this restaurant-umami.
The Kani Salad Pizza (P225) is exactly what the menu says it is-shredded kani, cucumber-carrot ribbons, mozzarella, and Japanese mayo all piled on top of a thin, house-made crust, served with sides of nori and chili powder for sprinkling. The pizza is fresh and delicate, with the cheese adding subtle flavor.
The maki and the furai, two Japanese favorites, combine for the California Maki Furai (P185), conveying complex flavors and a spike of spiciness. It’s hefty for an appetizer, containing a lot of rice and breading.
5th Taste has its own contribution to the katsu craze. Their versions of breaded pork are bestsellers, and the kitchen has plans to add more quirky flavors to the menu. The Jalapeño Cream Cheese Onion Tonkatsu (P325), one of the many stuffed katsu varieties available, in particular, is rich and heavy on flavor, with a kick from the onion and chili.
The signature Lasagna (P225) has an interesting flavor profile: the level of comfort is amped up with the addition of teriyaki sauce and nori, the latter adding pleasantly surprising depth to a classic. This is not a dish to be taken lightly, not that this iconic pasta was ever a lightweight.
The Bacon Prawn Tempura (P300), bacon-wrapped prawns in lightly crisp batter, is a cross between katsu and tempura. Thick batter encases bacon-wrapped prawn, the former adding just enough flavor to boost the latter without overpowering the dish.
You can order from 5th Taste even if you sit at the takoyaki restaurant below. Named after umami, or savoriness, 5th Taste lives up to its name, with dishes that tickle the taste buds and tantalize the tongue.