New Restaurant Alert: Soru Izakaya at Maginhawa Street, Quezon City
It's traditional and modern at the same time.
140 Maginhawa Street, Barangay Sikatuna, Quezon City
Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday) and from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. (Friday and Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) Kicking back with a few drinks and good food is always a great way to blow off some steam after a long day at work. That’s essentially what an izakaya, the Japanese version of a gastropub, is meant for, and Soru Izakaya is bringing the concept to Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. Soru opened its doors in February and has been consistently drawing curious diners looking for some good old Japanese fare, but they might find a few things that are different from the usual.
Walking into Soru shows you that the izakaya makes quite a departure from typical Japanese restaurants. You won’t find any lanterns, bamboo fixtures, or the usual paintings adorning the place. Instead, Soru goes for a more contemporary, industrial look, with Japanese-style artwork in mixed media and different styles emblazoned on the walls. Soru stays true to their goal of reflecting what they call “the new Nippon,” which essentially means a blend of the traditional along with a touch of creativity to come up with something fresh.
They apply the same principle to the food, which is all made in-house and sourced locally (except for the salmon). Of course, you’ll find many familiar dishes here, but they’re done right and, sometimes, with a different take. The Sashimi Moriawase (P650) is a tray of three pieces each of Norwegian salmon, tuna, mackerel, salay-salay, and octopus, and Soru blends a particular sauce just for this dish. The Tori Karaage (P180) might not seem like the most exciting choice, but the combination of tender chicken, a crunchy exterior, torched cheddar and mozzarella cheese, and a sesame-laced dressing is satisfying.
Spicy Maguro Salad
Their choices of kushiyaki—basically skewered and grilled meat—is also fairly impressive and features Wagyu Cubes (P135), Butabara or grilled pork belly (P70), and Bacon Enoki (P50) or bacon stuffed with enoki mushroom. If you’re looking for something lighter, you can always opt to split a salad, such as the Kani Salad (P225) or the Spicy Maguro Salad (P275), which includes greens topped with tuna sashimi cubes and tempura flakes drizzled with spicy Japanese mayo and miso sauce.
We hate to resort to clichés, but Soru’s selection of maki and aburi is a feast for the eyes. Soru’s sushi artists like to make different drawings out of Japanese mayo on each platter, and every roll looks carefully crafted. You’ll want to take a picture of the platter and stare at it for a while—just remember to use up the mayo as well, no matter how pretty the design is. Then come back again another day and order the same thing because you won’t see the same design twice, and also because the food is just that good.
(Left to right) Hiroshima, Kani Shiruken, Kuro Dragon, Chizuni, Oh Umi
The Hiroshima Maki (P260) is a spicy creation that contains salmon, a touch of spicy Japanese mayo, and topped with fried gyoza wrapper as well as salmon sashimi cubes with spicy Soru sauce. Cheese lovers will enjoy the creamy Chizuni Maki (P270), which features kani, tempura flakes, and three helpings of cheese: cheddar, cream cheese, and cheese sauce. The Kani Shuriken Maki (P220), which could easily be mistaken for finger sandwiches, features kani and tempura flakes, and is coated with Japanese mayo, teriyaki sauce, and cheese sauce. Meanwhile, the Kuro Dragon Maki (P480) has freshwater eel, cream cheese, and asparagus.
A popular choice is the Oh Umi Maki (P390), especially if you can’t get enough of seafood and want your favorites all in one go; the dish includes shrimp tempura wrapped in the roll garnished with salmon cubes and tempura flakes.
Soru’s drinks selection is just as interesting. They have five kinds of Japanese whiskey—Hakushu, Hibiki, Iwai, Nikka, and Yamazaki-sake, and 10 different cocktails, one of which even contains absinthe, along with bourbon, vodka, wine, and Scotch. The selection pretty much shows that they mean business as an after-work watering hole. You can even ask the servers about sake pairings. Teetotalers will also be pleased to find non-alcoholic options, such as their House Blend Iced Tea, Soru Lemonade, and Kyuri Green Iced Tea (P85), which has a hint of cucumber.
On mornings, Soru is a friendly, welcoming place for the daytime crowd, and by night, the lights are dimmed, turning the place into a chill hangout. A DJ comes on the weekends to spin some music for Soru’s guests. From the food to the interiors and the overall vibe, Soru showcases how the familiar can be transformed into something different with just a few tweaks while still retaining the best parts of what makes it great.
Photos by TJ Tantiangco