Ginza Japanese Restaurant
Fashion Interiors, 2307 Chino Roces Avenue, Makati City
Contact: 0917-574-4692, 0917-621-2171
Open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Sunday to Thursday); 11 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. (Friday to Saturday)
(SPOT.ph) From sights to food to culture (and more!), Japan’s many offerings have made it a favorite destination for locals and travelers alike. But with the ongoing pandemic, you couldn’t just give in to wanderlust as often as before. Fortunately for food lovers, there’s a new izakaya in town to whet your appetite for travel and remind you of your food trips in Japan for now.
You can get superb sushi, sashimi, and more at this hidden Japanese restaurant in Makati:
Ginza Japanese Restaurant, named after the famous upscale shopping district in Tokyo, is not your typical Japanese bar and restaurant. Its location is hidden from plain sight, obscured by warehouses in the area and literally situated inside a furniture shop. You’ll need to pass by an alleyway to get there, and prepare to do a double take as you’ll see plush interiors with splashes of greenery through its glass façade, instead of the conventional minimalist design that the Japanese are known for.
Ginza officially opened its doors last April and is currently on a dry run. According to General Manager, Jay Periquet, it’s also a “perfect partnership with the furniture store [Fashion Interiors] because for them, they’re looking for walk-in customers so we provide the walk-in customers. While waiting for your food, go around the showroom, we will call you when your food is ready. Or the other way around, if you’re going here to buy furniture, after looking, you can sit down here and have a beer or order food. So it’s really a synergy.”
What’s interesting about this new restaurant concept is its juxtaposition of traditional cuisine with the classy interiors accentuated by luxurious seats and upholstered bar, trendy lighting fixtures, vertical garden, and other stylish elements. It provides a nice backdrop for a delicious dining experience. Also, don’t be surprised if there would be a new set of featured furniture pieces—all proudly Philippine-made—after a few months or so since the space serves like a showcase area for the furniture shop.
Ginza’s diverse yet well-curated menu was inspired by Periquet’s frequent travels to Japan with his family, particularly his sister and brother-in-law who are his partners in the business as well. With over 200 menu offerings ranging from robata to sushi, maki, tempura, donburi, and more, you might need to take some time to take your pick, or better yet, come back often until you try everything.
Start with soup and salad like the Japanese Mushroom Consomme (P240), a simple yet flavorful broth of assorted mushrooms, one of which is matsutake, which has an earthy taste similar to truffle. There’s also the Ginza Sunomono (P550), a salad of thinly sliced cucumber topped with slices of tako (octopus) and shime saba (mackerel), plus shredded kani (crabmeat) that’s drizzled with a citrus vinaigrette. It’s a refreshing appetizer to start off your Japanese food voyage.
Seafood lovers would think this is heaven with its wide selection of bounty from the sea—including scallops, prawns, and fish. A must-try is the Nihon Kaki Motoyaki (P450), which are torched Japanese oysters topped with a dollop of miso mayo. The shellfish is perfectly cooked, not at all rubbery or overly chewy—plus the creamy mayo adds more richness to it. Aside from having it torched, you can get the oysters freshly shucked on the half-shell or deep-fried as well.
Of course you can’t leave without trying any of the sushi or sashimi. Highly recommended is the 5 Kinds Aburi (P780) that has flame-seared salmon, tuna, lapu-lapu, hamachi (yellowtail), and unagi (eel). This sampler lets you get a little taste of the sushi specialties so you can determine your favorite—plus, Ginza uses high-quality vinegar from Japan for their sushi rice.
If rolls of sushi are your thing, order the Shinjuku Futomaki (P780) and share it with your companions. The serving size is quite ample, and everyone’s bound to love the combination of prawn tempura, egg, ripe mango, and crunchy kani-salad topping. It’s similar to California maki but with added shrimp and egg. There’s nothing raw here so it’s a safe bet for everyone.
For those who appreciate raw seafood, the Ginza Futomaki (P1,150) has an all-star cast of tuna, salmon, hamachi, shime saba, ika (squid), and uni (sea urchin). You’ll love the cross-section that highlights the freshness of the seafood with its different shades of pink, red, white, and mustard. All it needs is a light dip in soy sauce, and you’re all set.
There’s also the ever-present Tempura Moriawase (P560) that has an assortment of black tiger prawns, asohos (Japanese whiting), squid, eggplant, okra, and sweet potato. Those familiar with Tokyo-style tempura would love the light batter here that lets you somewhat see through the inside and yet bite into a perfectly crisp coating still.
A more one-of-a-kind dish here is the Japanese charcoal noodles, which they dub the Ginza Sumiyaki Udon (P750). It’s simply stir-fried with mentaiko (pollock roe) and tobiko (flying fish roe) topped with shrimp, scallops, squid, eel, and gingko nuts. Eat it like you do pasta—mix it well so you can let all the elements fuse together. The combination of all the seafood and roe contributes to its natural flavor and briny taste.
Make sure to stay after dinner for some drinks or do day drinking, if you wish—it’s an izakaya after all, and they’ve got the essential Japanese libations such as beer, vodka, gin, and soon, whisky. Wine is also available by the glass or bottle, or you can bring your own for minimal corkage. What you can’t get just anywhere is either the Sapporo Premium Draft (P220) or Sapporo Premium Black Draft (P220). The black draft is uncommon, a little bit bitter with a roasted flavor like Guinness, but surprisingly light. Either would pair well with the restaurant’s wide selection of robata (fireside cooking), most especially the skewered meats. Order each stick individually so you can make your own sampler plate. Try this combo of Tsukune (P80) a.k.a. ground chicken meatballs, Salmon Belly (P220), Butabara (P110) a.k.a. pork belly, and Arabiki Sausage (P130) a.k.a. Japanese beef sausage. Somehow, eating meat on skewers is, well, more fun—plus the grilled taste makes for a tastier bite.
If you’re not shy about indulging, the Tontoro (P195) or thinly sliced pork nape makes for great bar chow. It’s salty and crisp, much like bacon, so you can’t really go wrong with it. Don’t worry, there are also lighter options to counteract the other rich dishes, one of which is the 3 Kinds Mushroom (P150) that has shiitake, shimeji, and enoki varieties.
Another definite crowd-pleaser would be the Wakadori Kuwayaki (P350). This tongue-twisting dish is simply deep-fried chicken pieces tossed in a light soy garlic sauce that’s akin to Korean-style chicken. It’s excellent paired with beer for sure but it could also be paired with plain rice, depending on your appetite.
So many food choices, so little time. There’s really something for every diner in Ginza—and those with a sweet tooth can also look forward to Japanese-inspired desserts on the menu soon. This izakaya would definitely satisfy your Japanese food hankerings until you can visit the Land of the Rising Sun again. For now, it’s just a short drive to Makati, until it opens its branches in BGC and Ortigas in the near future.
Photos by Hans Fausto