Awhile ago, my parents and I had dinner in a foreign spot down Pasay Road, Makati. With only a small brick bridge to usher us in, I was surprised to discover a Japanese village hidden behind familiar buildings.
There were bungalow structures with pointy rooftops cramped together that reminded me of ol' Tokyo. I guess, that was where Little Tokyo got it's name. Little Tokyo is a small compound of Japanese restaurants and bars serving various Japanese dishes, from giant Takoyakis to Makis, from Sashimi to Saba, from Okonomiyaki to Yakiniku.
The place was indeed very Japanese. Apart from the food being offered, plus the grocery nearby selling Japanese snacks and frozen foods (which you won't find elsewhere), people flocking in were speaking in their native Japanese tongue! As they say, you'd know if a restaurant is authentic if the authentic eaters are in there. So I guess, it was the real deal. But of course I had to taste it firsthand to prove the theory right.
I had their Yakitori Bento Box, my mom had Saba Bento Box, my dad had Cold Soba Noodles and we shared a plate of Futomaki and Nikujaga. The Nikujaga and Futomaki came first. Nikujaga is a Japanese appetizer that features sliced beef sirloin stewed with potatoes and carrots in a sweet delightful dashi sauce. It reminded me of the Korean beef stew in Korean Village. Being priced at Php120, I found it quite expensive since it was served in a very small bowl (imagine 3" in diameter bowl). The size of the Futomaki however was quite large, if I'm not mistaken, a piece would measure 2" in diameter (0.5" larger than the ordinary). It had more than the usual Tamago, crabstick and cucumber fillings. I was able to munch on some bits of shrimp and unagi as well. The price was Php300 for 8 pieces which is good already to get the best Futomaki in town.
My Bento Box came with a bowl of hot miso soup which was quite refreshing to drink. Unlike in other food chains where powdery chemicals that flavored the soup would uncomfortably stick to your throat, theirs was calm and soothing. Inside my Bento Box were two sticks of Yakitori, a stick of four grilled bacon-wrapped asparagus, green salads with Japanese vinaigrette dressing, mashed potatoes, three fat slices of tuna and a bed of Japanese white rice. A little too much for my stomach, so I shared some with my dad. For a price of Php340, it was okay, could be better.
I got to taste their Saba Bento Box, it was real good. Saba is a seasonal fish, more commonly known as the mackarel. The fish meat was soft and tasty, or in their language, umami. Next time, I'd pay Php40 pesos more (Php380) and get that big Saba box instead.
On our way home from dinner, the car radio was tuned in DWRB 104.3 (FM). Kundiman songs were being played, those that you'd hear 30 years ago. My mom kidded my dad, "You're a senior citizen na talaga (really), that's why you enjoy listening to these songs!" I added to it saying, "Yes, it's making me sleepy." Laughter reverberated in the car as my dad tried to defend himself saying, "But, it's really relaxing.."
Then, Atty. Romy Macalintal continued on with his program. He asked his guest, Korina Sanchez, to read a love poem. The poem was "I Thank You God" by EE Cummings.