This unassuming Japanese restaurant offers the best buffet value
Eat-all-you-can Japanese classics from a veteran Japanese chef is a win in our book.
Kitsho Japanese Restaurant
G/F Hotel Jen, Roxas Boulevard (across CCP), Malate, Manila
Open from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Tuesday to Sunday)
(SPOT.ph) We are mildly shocked to discover that what used to be Traders Hotel along Roxas Boulevard is now Hotel Jen—the Shangri-La Group's line of boutique-ish four-star hotels catering to the younger traveler. The guest rooms and common areas have been spruced up and now evokes a fresher, more streamlined look. Cool, but what still seals the deal for most is that priceless view. The Club Lounge on the 19th floor offers a vantage point of that legendary Manila Bay sunset.
However, what truly boggles our mind is that in a quiet corner of the hotel lobby is a really good Japanese restaurant and it seems nobody knows much about it. Since the hotel's relaunch in November 2014, Kitsho's executive chef Matsuhiro Mizumoto has been quietly dishing out well-executed Japanese classics for Hotel Jen's clientele of mostly businessmen and young travelers. The veteran chef has 30 years of experience under his belt and is probably the only one licensed to serve the erstwhile poisonous fugu or blowfish.
But we had none of that dangerous stuff when we tried their a la carte buffet. It's "a la carte" because, aside from their excellent spread of popular sushi bar choices; beef sukiyaki and usuyaki; salads and chahan, you can also pick from their extensive menu of main dishes which they'll serve freshly cooked on your table.
Round of sashimi
We went straight for the salmon sashimi, which we suspect if left long enough on our tongues, will simply melt like butter. Their nigiri and maki preparations are expertly prepared and doesn't have the mass-produced feel of most buffet sushis.
The tempura also just kept on coming until we caved, so did the teppanyaki dishes. Again, the misono-grilled salmon stood out.
Little foodies (and regular-sized ones, we suspect) will surely grow fond of the chicken karaage, which are nicely seasoned and crisp. The yakisoba, too, will be a sure hit even with newbies to the cuisine.
A little decadence at this point won't hurt, so we highly recommend the Oyster Fry. They fly in these humongous oysters from Japan and they are incredibly sweet and briny. Breaded and deep-fried, that seafood explosion as you bite into it is pure pleasure.
Forego the traditional fresh fruits for dessert and ask for Hotel Jen's Dirty Milkshakes. They come in chocolate, strawberry, and banana flavor, so there's something for everybody. It's also not too sweet, so it's really not as deadly as it looks.
Take the whole family—bring the whole barangay, even—to partake of this amazing spread at a steal. It's P1,088 for lunch and P1,188 for dinner until January 3, 2016. They just might carry on until after the holidays depending on demand, so let's give them all the holiday love they deserve.