Japanese food faves at Hanako, SM Pasig

Japanese restaurant Hanako got its name from a popular female given name in Japan which translates to “flower girl.”

Coincidentally, I recently dined at its SM Pasig branch after an all-girl’s outing with my mom and my daughter #ExhibitA. At this restaurant, we were able to sample tasty and authentic Japanese dishes which are also easy on the pocket (and made even easier by Zomato Gold… more on that later).

This outlet brings the color and vibrancy of Japanese street eateries inside the mall, attracting diners with its boldly colored banners and food posters.

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Japanese food remains among my family’s favorite cuisines. We love the simple yet strong flavors and the contrast in textures that make each bite tasty and interesting.

Take our lunch orders for example:

Salmon Tartare (Php224). Small pieces of salmon mixed in mayonnaise, togarashi (Japanese chili pepper), tempura flakes and chopped scallions. A delicious start to the meal!

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Ebi Tempura (Php279). Five large prawns battered then deep fried to a beautiful golden brown, then served with tempura dipping sauce. A mainstay in many of the fam’s Japanese meals!

(Trivia: Did you know that the method of preparing tempura was introduced in Japan by Portuguese Jesuits in the mid-16th century?)

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Chicken Karaage (Php199). Boneless chicken thigh pieces are marinated in a mixture of ginger and soy sauce, then coated with starch and deep fried before being served with a side of Japanese mayo for its dipping sauce.

(Trivia: Did you know that in the US, chicken karaage is sometimes called JFC, or Japanese Fried Chicken?)

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Tonkatsu (Php219). A juicy piece of pork cutlet, seasoned then panko-coated and deep-fried, then served with a salad of shredded cabbage and katsu sauce. How can you go wrong with this dish?

(Trivia: Did you know that ton translates to “pork” and katsu – a shortened form of katsuretsu – is a transliteration of the word “cutlet?”)

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Chahan (Php79). Flavorful dish of rice stir-fried in a wok with some minced meat and chopped vegetables.

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

Our lunch of our favorite Japanese food is a happy cap to an outing of three generations!

Hanako, SM Pasig

Hanako, SM Pasig

And since both #ExhibitA and I are Zomato Gold members, we got two of these dishes for free!

Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 (Buy 1 Get 1) deals on food or 2+2 (Buy 2 Get 2) deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get additional 20% off the membership fee.

This Hanako branch is located at SM Center Pasig, Frontera Drive, Bgy. Ugong, Pasig, open daily from 10am to 11pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 5848708.

Other branches are located at:

  • Second Floor, Regis Center, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City
  • Second Floor, The Rock Lifestyle Hub, Holy Spirit Drive, Bgy. Holy Spirit, Quezon City
  • 131 C. Armstrong Avenue, Moonwalk Village Phase 1, Paranaque
  • 30-C Dona Soledad Avenue, Don Bosco, Paranaque

Hanako Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Japanese restaurants:

Zen dining experience at ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Located along the busy Annapolis Street, no more than a minute’s ride after turning right from the traffic-infested EDSA is a haven for Japanese food lovers.

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

ICHO Japanese Restaurant is named after the gingko trees in Japan. Known to be highly resilient as they can withstand pollution and salt in their native environment, they also beautify their surroundings and as well as provide nourishment and medicinal benefits.

ICHO brings the metro’s diners a piece of the serenity that gingko trees have come to symbolize through its calm and peaceful premises. Lightwood furniture, a tatami area and simple murals against concrete walls create a Zen-like atmosphere with which to enjoy the restaurant’s food creations.

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

The restaurant’s menu, designed by Executive Chef Rico Panoy, showcases the versatility and artistry of Japanese cuisine. The mix and match of ingredients as well as the time-honored cooking methods produce a well-curated list of dishes that appeal to both the eyes and the palate.

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Together with my fellow foodie friends from #WeLoveToEatPH and #SaanSaPH, I visited ICHO Japanese Restaurant and sampled some of its bestsellers which include:

Drinks: Icho Iced Tea (Php100), Matcha Milk Smoothie (Php200), Ripe Mango Shake (Php110) and Watermelon Shake (Php110).

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Kani Salad (Php235). Crabsticks with Japanese cucumber and bits of mango that features the interesting interplay of salty-sweet flavors.

ICHO Japanese Restaurant

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Spicy Tuna Salad (Php340). Spicy tuna tartar served with mixed greens. This one has quite a spicy kick but diners can always request for the spiciness to be toned down while ordering.

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Hiroshima Kaki Motoyaki (Php285). Baked oysters with creamy mayonnaise-based sauce. Very rich and flavorful!

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Sashimi Goru Mori (Php720). Five kinds of sashimi which illustrate the freshness of the ingredients and the chef’s mastery of presentation. I may have developed a taste for sea urchin because of this dish!

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Salmon Saikyo Miso Aburi (Php110/pc). Lightly grilled pieces of salmon on top of sushi rice topped with sweet miso paste.

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Foie Gras Aburi (Php250/pc). Lightly broiled goose liver with balsamic teriyaki sauce on top of sushi rice. Definitely a tasty indulgence!

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Roll (Php260). The house specialty maki sushi that has the right combination of textures and flavors that got me reaching for more.

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Chef’s Special Nabe Hot Pot (Php695). Mixed seafood and assorted vegetables in light uni broth. Simple in taste and presentation but very comforting.

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Robata Platter (Php885). Mixed grilled meat, seafood and vegetable skewers which include tender wagyu cubes and the resto’s namesake: gingko biloba!

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich (Php300). A delightful confection made of vanilla ice cream in between slices of chocolate and vanilla sponge cake with mochi. A sweet and fitting end to a lovely meal!

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

So the next time you have a hankering for tasty Japanese food, head to ICHO where you can enjoy it Zen-like surroundings.

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Icho Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

Many thanks to Chef Panoy, JM Tan and the crew of ICHO for the warm welcome and delicious food!

ICHO Japanese Restaurant, Greenhills

ICHO Japanese Restaurant is located at 6 Annapolis Street corner Purdue Street, Greenhills, San Juan City, open daily from 11am to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 11pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 2 535 0020 or +63 917 1346027.

ICHŌ Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I attended a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant.  All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Check out my reviews of other Japanese restaurants:

Birthday dinner at Soru Izakaya, Ugong

As a foodie that has been exposed to various cuisines, restaurant concepts and cooking styles, of course I would want an extraordinary meal at an extraordinary restaurant for my birthday dinner with the family.

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to dine at Soru Izakaya ever since I caught sight of pictures showing its colorful and creatively presented makis. Add the fact that the resto chain is currently a Zomato Gold partner where I can get free dishes as a Zomato Gold member, and that sealed the deal.

An izakaya is a type of informal pub originating from Japan, where small and inexpensive dishes and snacks are served to accompany alcoholic drinks. This kind of dining establishment has proved perfect for afterwork de-stressing with friends through drinks and good food.

Soru Izakaya’s visually arresting aesthetic also adds to the relaxing vibe. It takes inspiration from bishoujo (pretty girl) manga, traditional Japanese art, the colorful Tokyo night life and the emergence of speakeasies.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

For my birthday celebration, the place proved to be an awesome venue where the extended family came together for a great meal, which included:

Miso Soup (Php45). A staple among Japanese soups wherein softened miso paste is mixed into a savory dashi stock with tofu cubes.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Kani Salad (Php240). Shredded crabsticks tossed in salad greens dressed in a mixture of miso and Japanese mayo. Toppings of crunchy kani, ebiko and nori strips add to the flavors and textures.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Spicy Maguro Salad (Php300). Tempura flakes and cubes of fresh tuna top salad greens dressed in miso and spicy mayo.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Wagyu Steak Teppan (Php990). Iron-grilled wagyu steak served with mixed vegetables.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Tomahawk Katsu (Php320). Deep-fried breaded pork tomahawk cutlet served with sweet and savory katsu sauce and shredded cabbage in roasted sesame dressing.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Unaguro Aburi (Php390). Tempura rice topped with torched tuna and unagi with teriyaki sauce and a bit of truffle oil.

Lava Maki (Php390). Salmon skin, crabsticks and tamago topped with cubes of fresh tuna and salmon in a spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Shake Belly Aburi (Php230). Torched salmon belly with wasabi teriyaki sauce, finished with wasabi mayo, oborro mayo and Japanese mayo.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Nori Tempura Nami (Php330 for 5 pieces). Deep-fried tiger prawns in nori flavored batter.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Meiji Kare (Php260). Japanese-style beef curry with potatoes and carrots on rice.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

Shoyu Ramen (Php290). Tender chasyu pork slices, boiled egg and mixed vegetables in a steaming hot shoyu broth.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

It was a fun birthday dinner in a new place for the fam.

Soru Izakaya, Ugong

On my next visit, I would love to try the Tantanmen ramen and one of Soru Izakaya’s desserts.

And since four us unlocked our Zomato Gold privilege, we got 4 of these dishes free!

Zomato Gold provides members with 1+1 (Buy 1 Get 1) deals on food or 2+2 (Buy 2 Get 2) deals on drinks. All you have to do is sign up for a Zomato Gold membership here. Use my code JELLYB to get 20% off the membership fee.

This Soru Izakaya branch is located at Techno Point Building, Julia Vargas Avenue, Ugong, Pasig City, open Sundays to Thursdays from 11am to 12 midnight and Fridays to Saturdays from 11am to 2am.

Other branches are located at:

  • Ground Floor, 140 Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City
  • Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

Soru Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Japanese restaurants:

Chill sounds and good eats at Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Ermita

Like the fabled children of Hamelin, the denizens and passersby of Ermita, Manila’s Arquiza Street as well as guests of the Red Planet Hotel Manila Bay, will find themselves drawn to the bright lights, good music and chill vibe of the Pied Piper… Well, the Pied Piper Gastrolounge, that is.

For people who love to enjoy their favorite brews along with their meals, gatrolounges (also known as gastropubs) are the place to be. In these places, they are assured of a steady supply high end beers to satisfy their discerning tastes while still indulging themselves in hot dishes know as “pub grub.”

In contrast to the usual pub grubs, however, Pied Piper Gastrolounge’s menu features a fusion of Japanese and other cuisines, thanks to the input of Chef Mikel Aguirre. It also has some classic Pinoy-style grilled items courtesy of managing partner Carlo Religioso, the man behind Daddings Kitchenette.

Together with my fellow foodies from #WeLoveToEatPH, I was able to sample some of its offerings during its pre-anniversary concert.

These include:

Bacon Sushi Roll (Php250). Smoked pork is wrapped in nori and sushi rice and topped with torched bacon. Dipped into soy sauce with wasabi, this is a sure winner!

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Crispy Spareribs (Php320). Meaty pieces of pork ribs are braised for three hours, grilled for a smokey flavor and then deep fried to get a crispy exterior. Dipped into the house barbecue sauce, it’s a must for every carnevore.

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Baked Tahong (Php280). A Japanese version of the bar staple, this baked mussels dish make use of a special Japanese cheese sauce.

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

To accompany our food, we had our fill of Rhum Cokes (Php150/glass) and Vodka Sprites (Php150/glass).

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

This shindig was also marked by musical performances by Viva Hotabes Maricar dela Fuente and EB Babe Molly Baylon.

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

With the resto’s chill surroundings, friendly staff, good eats and cool sounds, it was a spirited night for me and my friends at the Pied Piper Gastrolounge.

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Manila

Pied Piper Gastrolounge, Ermita

Pied Piper Gastrolounge is located at Ground Floor, Red Planet Hotel Manila Bay, Arquiza Corner Alhambra Street, Ermita, Manila. (Note: Parking may be a problem). It is open everyday from 10am to 1am. For reservations and inquiries, call +63 927 2915211.

Pied Piper Gastrolounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclosure: Together with other foodies, I was invited to join a foodie meetup held at this restaurant. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself

A new take on sushi at Inari by Hamaru, The Podium

By now, with the proliferation of Japanese restaurants all over the metro, you would think you know sushi like the back of your hand.

But sushi at Inari by Hamaru is no ordinary sushi. This I discovered, together with my fellow foodies, during a recent food tasting event held at The Corner Market Food Hall of the Podium that featured its newly opened food stalls.

Inari’s claim to fame is its inarizushi: it is a pouch made of seasoned and fried tofu stuffed with sushi rice and other fillings. It takes its name after the Shinto deity Inari who, legend has it, has quite a fondness for fried tofu.

During this particular food tasting, however, our group was treated to other items in Inari’s menu such as:

Black Rice Sushi Platter (Php775). These are forty pieces of five flavors of sushi rolls – Ebi Tempura, Torched California, Spicy Tuna, Sweet Eggplant and Crispy Salmon Skin – all made using organic black rice. This is quite a step in a healthier direction as black rice is imbued with the highest amounts of antioxidants, protein and dietery fiber among all rice varieties. Its health benefits include a stronger immune system, cancer and diabetes prevention and improved digestive health. Black rice also aids in weight loss, reducing swellings and in promoting heart and brain health. If only I’m not looking for that sticky and fluffy white sushi rice with every bite! Oh well…

Inari, The Podium

Inari, The Podium

Nori Tacos Ebi Salad (Php185) and Chimichurri Tuna (165). An imaginative take on nori-wrapped sushi rolls, these feature crunchy deep-fried seaweed shells stuffed with fresh sushi filling. For me this is a way to enjoy old sushi favorites in new tastes and textures.

Inari, The Podium

Inari, The Podium

Inari, The Podium

I was only able to sample a few of Inari’s offerings during the food tasting so I just might drop by the Corner Market Food Hall again, just to check the other items out!

Inari by Hamaru is located at the Corner Market Food Hall, Second Floor, Podium Mall, Ortigas Center, Pasig City. It is open Mondays to Thursdays from 11am to 10pm and Fridays to Sundays from 10am to 10pm.

Disclosure: Together with other food bloggers, I was invited to attend a Blogger Event held in the Corner Market Food Hall. Food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.

Inari by Hamaru Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Check out my reviews of other Japanese restaurants:

A vastly improved dining experience at Teriyaki Boy, SM East Ortigas

My first and second dining experiences in the SM East Ortigas branch of Teriyaki Boy with my family were less than stellar as detailed in my previous post.  I was therefore quite pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation from the management to dine again at the same branch for free.

Together with Hubby and the kids, I set out to give this branch another chance.

Well, what can I say? The service and kitchen team set out to wow our group and they did!

As instructed, I looked for the manager-on-duty, Acee, when we arrived.  The service crew immediately ushered us to our seats and handed us the menu until Acee came out to greet us.

She clarified a lot of my misgivings during my earlier visits in this branch.  For one thing, our first visit here was during the first week of the branch’s opening and the group was still ironing out some kinks in the system while dealing with the first rush of people.  Another was on how we can better enjoy the steaks we cross-ordered from Teriyaki Boy’s sister-restaurant Sizzlin’ Steak (more on that in this post).

From Teriyaki Boy’s menu, we ordered most of what we got during our first visit such as:

  • Tempura Tuna Tartare (Php165) – This spicy mix of tuna sashimi, Japanese mayo and tempura flakes is a great appetizer as the slight spicy kick of the wasabi-seasoned sashimi is counterbalanced by the creamy mayo and the texture of the tempura flakes.
  • Gyoza (Php155 for 5 pieces) – Another of my daughter’s favorite appetizers, these steamed and seared pork dumplings were juicy and flavorful on the inside and has a slight crisp on the outside.
  • Dynamite Roll (Php185 for 8 pieces)– I found this sushi roll composed of fresh tuna, chili oil, Japanese mayo and Japanese chili pepper togarashi too spicy for my taste but Hubby loves it and orders practically all the time.
  • Tonkatsu (Php280) – This breaded and deep-fried pork is actually my son’s favorite dish.  We just ordered a Gohan (Php65), or steamed Japanese rice, to go with this viand. We are happy to note that this time, the breading does not fall apart from the meat unlike in our previous visit.
  • Katsu Ju (Php345)– Pork tonkatsu that has also been simmered in sweet soy sauce, diced onions and sliced leeks, and served with a beaten egg on top of steamed Japanese rice, and whose blend of flavors and textures appealed to my daughter.
  • Teriyaki Boy Cotton Cheesecake (Php115)– This cross between a rich cheesecake and an airy souffle is one of Japan’s most popular desserts.  Next time, though, I’ll request to have the chocolate syrup on the side rather than drizzled on the cake.

This much more enjoyable time at Teriyaki Boy was also brought about by the attention and assistance of servers Rhea and JR who immediately fulfilled, and even anticipated, our requests.

The week after this visit, Hubby and I dined at Sizzlin’ Steak and we cross-ordered Endamame (Php90) for our appetizer, two orders of Tonkatsu and Yakimeshi Rice (Php75).

I’m glad I was able to have the opportunity to change my mind about this resto.

By the way, with the Max’s Group’s All You Can Wednesdays Promo, you can eat all the Ebi Tempura you want at Teriyaki Boy from 2pm to closing time at only Php349, available all the Wednesdays in June.  More details are available in this blog post.

Teriyaki Boy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Satisfying Japanese fare at Ariake

Japanese cuisine is characterized by fresh ingredients prepared in accordance to the season as well as simple yet artistic plating.  Both are present in Ariake such that it’s among our group’s go-to lunch places for a Japanese meal.

Among its dishes that I recommend are:

  • Crunchy Tuna Sashimi (Php255) – raw tuna mixed with tempura flakes and a special dressing
  • Ebi Tempura (Php180 for 3 pieces)
  • Beef Teppan (Php355) – cubed tenderloin steak with sauteed vegetables
  • Tokyo Style Ramen (Php250) – shoyu-based soup, pork slices, boiled egg, leeks and cabbage

Ariake is located at Unit C Barretto Building, 284 Tomas Morato Corner Scout Rallos, Sacred Heart, Tomas Morato, Quezon City.

Why not try your hand at preparing Japanese cuisine at home?  Check out these recipe books from Amazon.com!

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