New Restaurant Alert: Shinsen at Maybunga, Pasig City
This surprising hole-in-the-wall brings easy, accessible, and family-friendly Japanese to the table.
Unit 202 Hampton Gardens Arcade, 100 C. Raymundo Street, Barangay Maybunga, Pasig City
Contact: 664-6331, 0977-855-1105
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Manila is privy to many great Japanese restaurants—pick a location, and you’ve got a handful of haunts that go from tradition to fusion, fast food to totally way out of your budget. Pasig may have its popular spots in the malls and in Kapitolyo’s burgeoning restaurant row, but those who spend their days across the bridge in the deeper recesses of the city have to travel through traffic jams just to get to the nearest dive.
You'll never feel safer.
Look up to see the food being prepped
Along the mostly industrialized area through which C. Raymundo runs lies an unsuspecting gallery of familiar restaurant chains. Hampton Gardens Arcade is where you want to be. Park and make your way up the second floor; you'll be transported to Tokyo’s world-famous Tsukiji Market by way of Shinsen, Pasig’s newest Japanese restaurant.
Starting kani salad
Lovingly put up by a group of friends with a passion for all things Japanese, Shinsen is a small space that packs a whole lot of punch in everything it has to offer. Its modern interiors, concrete flooring, colorful mural, and open kitchen take you straight to Japan, no muss no fuss. With thoughtful details like trivia scribbled on windows and walls, and a vibrant wait staff that’s efficient and helpful, you’re put at ease as soon as you step inside. And that’s just the start—your real shinsen (translation: "fresh") experience begins when you flip through the menu and discover its incredibly expansive range of food.
Raw food lovers will not want to miss the sashimi, some locally sourced and others shipped chilled (not frozen) straight from Japan. The Salmon Sashimi (P338), which comes from Norway, is honest-to-goodness, melt-in-your-mouth shake. If you like your raw fish in roll form, the Dynamite Roll (P268) provides the perfect spice, while less adventurous folk may want to try the Crazy Roll (P198), which mixes salmon and cheese. Those who can’t eat raw food can have their salmon aburi or torched.
Main dishes are priced mid-range and are delivered quickly to the table (save for the grilled dishes and potstickers which require a bit more prep time). The Tori Kuwayaki (P268), which is chicken cooked almost like a cross between karaage and teriyaki, is a kid-friendly treat that offers crunch and flavor that everyone can enjoy. The Gyoza (P158) is made from scratch, while the Ebi Tempura (P318) does not scrimp on the prawns in any way.
Misono Tofu Steak
Australian Rib Eye
Meat lovers will do well to order the Australian Rib Eye Steak (P798), which is so tender, it's almost as soft as the salmon sashimi. The Yakimeshi rice makes a perfect match. Those going for healthier options may enjoy the Misono Tofu Steak (P278), which comes with a lovely serving of enoki mushroom on the side, and the ultra popular salt-based Grilled Salmon Head (P378) in ponzu sauce. Everything in Shinsen is made to order and adjustable to your dietary concerns or taste preferences.
While most Japanese restaurants in Manila have at least one Japanese chef to head the kitchen, Shinsen proves that Filipinos can capture authentic Japanese flavor, too. With the 20 years of intense training under the Japanese that their staff possesses, Shinsen shows that simple passion, expert skill, and a veritable love for what you do can yield extremely delicious results.
Photos by Hans Fausto