Somewhat hidden among the old and new eateries along Tomas Morato is Isaribi. Opened a mere 8 months ago, it is the second branch of the Japanese chain in the Philippines, with the other branch located in Legaspi Village, Makati.
Together with a group of officemates, I ventured to this restaurant right across Vitto’s along Scout Lozano Street to satisfy our gang’s craving for Japanese food.
“Isaribi” translates to “fishing fire,” a fire used to lure fish at night. It was taken from an ancient Japanese poem by Kakinomoto Hitomaru in the Manyoshu, a collection of writings reflecting 7th and 8th century life in Japan.
When we entered, we were welcomed by greetings from the servers accompanied by some beats from a drum. The place was quite spacious with tastefully laid out tables with built-in grills. When we sat down, were offered cold oshibori (“wet towels”) to clean our hands. Points of interest also include the walls decorated with what appeared to be sake bottles. All in all, the decor and the rituals contributed to a premium and authentically Japanese feel to the resto.
While my coworkers took advantage of rice meals that come with eat-all-you-can rice and soup (a really tasty miso broth), I decided to give in to my ongoing ramen phase. Our orders consisted of:
- Tonkotsu Ramen (Php300). Milky-white pork-broth with firm ramen noodles, thin slices of green onion, half of a tamago (soft-boiled soy-tinged egg), and slivers of cha siu pork belly. While the pork slices are not as melt-in-your-mouth tender as I usually prefer, the broth had a strong garlicky taste which sets it apart from similar ramen I’ve tasted from other Japanese restos.
- Gyudon (Php280). The Japanese beef bowl, with tender and slightly smoky-flavored grilled beef and a savory-sweet sauce.
- Katsudon (Php280). A bowl of rice topped with sliced pork cutlets coated with flavored egg.
- Tendon (Php280). Rice toppings with shrimp and vegetable tempura.
- Tonkatsu Teishoku (Php280). Pork cutlet covered in panko and flavored batter, served with salad. This took some time getting to our table.
I look forward to coming back here to feast of the sashimi and grilled beef offerings.
Isaribi is located at the Belfrant Building along Scout Lozano. The street is one-way going towards Tomas Morato so plan your trip accordingly. For reservations, call 02 4415302.
Check out my previous reviews of Japanese restaurants:
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