Friday, September 9, 2011

Okonomiyaki at Little Tokyo’s Kagura

My class took a trip to Little Tokyo at Pasong Tamo a few months ago to experience some authentic Japanese food. I’ve actually heard a lot about the place, but I’ve never been there before. Little Tokyo was really pretty at night, with bright lights illuminating the surroundings, making you feel like you’re in a samurai movie.

Inside Little Tokyo was several stores serving their own house specialties such as sushi or ramen. I was especially excited about Kagura, a restaurant there that serves authentic Japanese okonomiyaki. I’ve seen plenty of Japanese anime and dramas like Ranma 1/2 and Hana Kimi, and one Japanese food featured in these shows that I had always wanted to try but had never seen in Manila was okonomiyaki.

Kagura is small and quaint, with only 2 or 3 tables available for groups. The highlight however, is sitting at the counter, where you can see the Japanese “master” (as the servers called him) as well as his two Filipino assistants making okonomiyaki and udon on the teppan (iron plate) right in front of you!

One of the unique things about the store was its abundance of baseball-themed decor. After all, Japan is obsessed about baseball, the way we Filipinos are obsessed with basketball. Walls and shelves were filled with jerseys and baseball memorabilia such as player figurines, while a television showed Japanese news and baseball games (all in Japanese though). I was particularly disturbed by this decapitated bobble head in front of me that watched with a sour look on his face as I enjoyed my food...

And what fantastic food it was! My friend and I ordered two dishes to share: stir-fried udon with sliced pork and topped with scrambled egg (that was a little too salty but was good nevertheless)…

…and of course, this beauty. Buta tama okonomiyaki! (An okonomiyaki is a sort of savory pancake that contains different toppings. In our case, it was pork and veggies. There were also other variants that contained noodles but I wasn’t able to try those.) It was so good. The special okonomiyaki sauce on top with the seaweed and mayo was a perfect complement to the soft batter and vegetables and crispy pork.

The okonomiyaki is also huge, about 10 inches in diameter. One is just enough for a person with a huge appetite, but would probably be too big for someone who eats very little.

We also ordered yakitori (grilled meat) from another restaurant. I got these two: chicken gizzard (left) and pork rib (right). They were grilled perfectly and were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

After dinner, we dropped by Chotto Stop, a nearby Japanese grocery where everything is sold for 85 pesos. Most of the things are quite pricey, but we decided to have some Japanese ice cream to end the meal. I got this Hokkaido milk ice cream, and it was so good. It was rich and creamy, and I felt like I was eating butter.  Except of course, sweet milky butter. Mmmmm…

I've heard so many wonderful things about Little Tokyo, and I'm glad that this experience didn't disappoint. It was just the way I pictured, if not even better. Here, I got to have a taste of authentic Japan, rather than the commercialized, localized fare that we often get to eat at Japanese restaurants in Manila, even complete with authentic Japanese locals!

Little Tokyo, Chino Roces Ave., Legaspi Village, Makati
Tel.: 8943656

Chotto Stop
Little Tokyo, Chino Roces Ave., Legaspi Village, Makati

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