So I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in Nihonbashitei for the first time; I was spotting Japanese dudes1 all over the place, always a promising sight for a Japanese eatery.
The first thing came out was the Salmon Sashimi, which wasn’t surprising, because, well, it’s raw. You can usually tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of their sashimi. You see, fresh seafood smells like the ocean. If you smell fish, you should throw that garbage out. The salmon sashimi at Nihonbashitei though, was amazing. It was firm, it was fresh, it was just a fantastic experience to be eating food that good to start a meal.
Of course, we didn’t stop with the salmon. Up next was the Uni Sashimi. For those not in the know, Uni is sea urchin. Frankly, I have never been a fan just because it looks weird and I am a shallow, superficial bastard, but credit where it’s due, it was AWESOME. The entire table descended on the few pieces like rabid dogs, tearing it to shreds until nothing remained.
Next up, the Spicy Toro Maki. Easily the best fucking thing on the menu. If you do not like this, we can no longer be friends. I suggest you stop reading right here, because to do so, to disagree with me on this dish, is as sacrilegious to food as it gets. It’s rice. With spicy tuna toppings. And tempura batter crisps. Sesame seeds. It’s a fucking party in your mouth.
The Asahi Butter Clams2 was just alright after all that orgasmic sushi and sashimi. I’m not a fan of clams, but they were smothered in butter, so I accept the compromise.
Beef on Vegetables3 is exactly what you would expect: beef on top of sauteed vegetables. The beef was really good, except for the fact that there was too little of it. Fortunately, the vegetables weren’t bad at all! In fact, they were actually… GOOD! A toast to the Japanese, the one nationality that can make vegetables edible!
“Some Grilled Mackerel? Why, yes, thank you! So kind of you to offer! Wait a sec. This isn’t good at all. I will never order this again. I can’t believe you led me on like this, with your open kitchen and your wafting scents!”
No Japanese restaurant review is complete with an Ebi Tempura rating. Nihonbashitei does not disappoint in this category. The batter is perfect. The shrimps are perfect. Just like this author.
Perhaps the thing I will come back for, over and over again4 is the Tonkatsu. By far the best quality of pork I have ever seen used in the traditional Japanese breaded pork cutlet. It was tender. It was juicy. There was no visible fat. The breading was light and crispy and golden brown. It was a game changer, for sure. The bar has been raised, my eyes opened, my taste buds spoiled. This is the standard to which all Tonkatsu should be held against. If I were a pig, I would gladly give my life up for this.
… And I can’t believe they fucked it up like this. Curry Tonkatsu, the bastard cousin, the black sheep. Next time, if you feel like ordering this, have the curry on the FUCKING SIDE.
Japanese Fried Rice was just OK. Nothing spectacular, really.
Grilled Teriyaki Salmon was just OK, too. This is saying something because I don’t like salmon with teriyaki sauce. But the fish was fresh, and I can respect that. FPJ approved.
The Beef Sukiyaki was pretty damn good. One order is around 7-8 bowls if you are a normal, decent, functioning human being, or 4 bowls, if you are a disgusting pig like I am. Order appropriately.
I’m sure there were other dishes that came out that I failed to take photos of, but you can’t argue with the sheer quantity at this point. I was stuffed5, but apparently we had free desserts coming. We had a choice of nata de coco or iced coffee. For once, I chose the coffee and I gotta tell you, from a non-coffee lover6, this was pretty damn good. Not too sweet, not too bitter, and not too strong. This must be what Goldilocks would prefer — just right. If you’re offered a free dessert, ask no questions and order this one!
Overall, GREAT meal! The Toro Maki itself is worth the trip to Makati (even with the traffic). OK, maybe not just the Maki. Add the tempura, sukiyaki, and the coffee, then let’s take that drive. They have valet parking so parking shouldn’t be a problem. I also hear they have basashi (horse sashimi) so that’s another reason to go back. I hate to be redundant but this place is kakkoii7. At least that’s what Google Translate is saying.