I haven’t been traveling lately and won’t be traveling anytime soon. I’m at my wit’s end, counting down the months until the next trip. The self-imposed travel ban was due to me trying my hand at being responsible, putting my money into grown up expenses like insurance, business registrations and an accountant, instead of squandering it on impulsively
planned booked trips. The farthest I’ve been traveling lately is to Makati, where I get to experience the closest I’ll probably ever get to Japan: Little Tokyo.
Amazing map by the designer/photographer/calligrapher extraordinaire, Cla 😀
(Click on the image to see the bigger version)
Little Tokyo is actually a compound where you can eat the best and most authentic Japanese meals in Manila. Many of these restaurants are own by Japanese, with a Japanese chef manning the kitchen, preparing and cooking ingredients imported from Japan and served to Japanese nationals.
Though I’ve been hearing about this place for years, it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally tried eating there. Thanks to my dolly obsession, I’ve gotten to know and became great friends with a crazy bunch of people who are as passionate about food as they are about the toys they collect. Aside from the toys and food, we all have a common interest in Japan. And so Little Tokyo became our unofficial meeting place.
Since then, I’ve taken friends to this little slice of Japan in Makati, pointing out which restaurant serves the best value lunch sets, telling them about the special deals of each, and treating them to a medley of flavors. Now, it’s your turn to take the tour.
Here’s a run down of the restaurants and shops in Little Tokyo, with a short description and recommendations for each. I’ve enlisted the help of some friends who’ve tried more restaurants than I have and have more discerning tastes to share their favorites with you.
Our favorite restaurant in LT. Khursten describes Hana as having the best “Japanese comfort food.”
Order: Hana maki, pork senbei (BACON!), cubic steak, tofu steak
Average cost: Php 200
Hana: Authentic Takoyaki in the heart of Makati
Hana scores a homerun with their new menu options
Like Hana on Facebook
If you’ve read Ranma 1/2 manga or watched the anime, you’ve probably wondered how okonomiyaki tastes like. Wonder no more and try this hearty Japanese pancake here.
Order: Modern-yaki with everything on it
Average cost: Php 250
What to Eat Where: The Quick and Dirty Japanese Resto Guide for Manila
A popular lunch place for employees and executives working in the area. Open for dinner too.
Specialties: Sushi, sashimi
Order: Kaizengozen (chirashi-don), kami nabe
Average cost: Php 350
A box of treasured from the sea
Little Tokyo’s Seryna: Best. Chirasizushi. Ever.
Izakaya style dining
Specialties: Sushi and anything seafood
Order: Seafood salad, Salmon ikura bowl, maguro-don, shake ikura-don, nasu tempura
Unforgettable Sushi at Kikufuji
Discovering umami in Kikufuji
Love meat? Grill ’em here!
Special: Gorge on all the meat and seafood you can grill and eat every Tuesday for Php 500.
Note: This is not like the other yakiniku places in Manila that feature smokeless grills. They use the traditional grills that leaves you smelling like meat. If you have pets, expect a very amorous welcome when you get home.
A Japanese grocery with a small restaurant off the side
Order: Cha-han (fried rice)
Average cost (restaurant): Php 140
Convenience store selling various Japanese food products for Php 80. Has a small restaurant serving bento on the side.
Average cost (bento): Php 250
Co-op finds a new home
A favorite among Filipinos
A small restaurant serving sumo-sized meals
Specialities: nabe (hotpot)
Order: Chanko nabe
Filipino-owned Japanese restaurant
Another Izakaya serving the usual Japanese favorites
Order: Tonkotsu ramen, ikura-don, yakitori
A Japanese chef mans their kitchen
Specialties: Sukiyaki and sushi
An old coffee shop that also doubles a bar and stays open until late.
Order: Crispy pata
There you go! I do hope you find it useful, and I hope I bump into you at Little Tokyo one of these days!