After enjoying a Kapampangan food fest at Diamond Hotel's Corniche earlier this month, I got the chance to revisit the hotel once again. This time, I'm in for a Japanese treat at one of the hotel's most notable dining spots -- Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant which has been included in Asian Tatler Dining's Philippine's Best Restaurants for 2011.
Conveniently located at Diamond Hotel's ground floor, this posh culinary destination boasts of providing an authentic Japanese dining experience the moment you step foot in its simple yet luxuriously-decorated restaurant space. Upon entering Yurakuen, kimono-clad attendants have led us to a marble-floored corridor which extends to a small bridge going to the main dining area famous for its beautiful glass cherry blossom tree.
As much as we'd love to dine under a canopy of glass trees, our group was led to a private room to give us a taste of Yurakuen's teppanyaki dishes, freshly iron griddle-cooked gustatory delights prepared right in front of guests. And although Japanese cuisine is my first love, I have never experienced dining with a personal chef throwing off a blazing flambé right in front of my eyes until this visit to Yurakuen.
A Japanese dining experience won't be complete without meal starters. So to cater to Japanese food lovers like me who can't survive without an array of appetizers, the Teppanyaki Eat-All-You-Can promo at Yurakuen also includes a generous list of sashimi, sushi, maki, temaki, salad and soups, as well as unlimited flow of standard drinks, local and Kirin beer.
|Crab Stick Salad|
|Tuna and Salmon Sashimi|
After a hearty start, we got a sneak peak of what we'll be having for main course. Yurakuen's Teppanyaki Eat-All-You-Can promo lets a hungry and craving guest enjoy unlimited rounds among a wide selection of vegetables, seafood, meats, rice variants and noodles.
|Vegetable Platter of Spinach, Asparagus, Enoki, Shiitake and Konyaku (Vegetable Jelly)|
|Seafood Platter of Tiger Prawns, Scallops, Salmon and Black Cod|
|A Platter of Spine Lobsters|
|Meat Platter of US Beef Tenderloin and Ribeye, US Wagyu Beef Striploin and Baby Lamb Chops|
I know all these raw food platters already look so enticing! But, the magic in teppanyaki-style dining began when the chef stepped foot in our private room. Equipped with skillful hands and an amusing flair of a true master performer in the kitchen, Chef Bibong made us go ooh and ahh as he enchanted us with his kick ass teppanyaki cooking techniques.
Among the wide variety of raw food ready for Chef Bibong's magic touch, we first had a simple yet flavorful vegetable teppanyaki of Spinach, Asparagus, Enoki, Shiitake and Konyaku.
Drenched with a few drops of white wine, soy sauce, salt and pepper, our plate of vegetables was phenomenal. These greens and mushrooms were cooked to perfection -- not too tough and not too wilted. And when I tried Chef Bibong's suggestion of dipping these veggies into the ponzu sauce, it was pure bliss. (That came from a not-so-frequent vegetable eater btw.)
After the plate of veggies came the moment I was waiting for -- seafood. Although I have seafood allergies, I can't help but succumb to the temptation of these big, soft and chewy pieces of premium US Scallops. Cooked with white wine and a whole lot of love from Chef Bibong, these plump scallops sent me directly to heaven!
When it comes to seafood, my allergies' best accomplice would be prawns and shrimps. But with plump Tiger Shrimps cooked to a perfect tender and oozing with both smoky and buttery flavors, I'm ready to just take on more meds and more shots!
Among sea dwellers, my least favorite cooked food would probably be fish. Don't get me wrong, I love eating raw fish especially salmon. But when it comes to cooked fish dishes, I'm one finicky eater. And although I still didn't go gaga for Chef Bibong's Black Cod and Salmon Teppanyaki, I find them cooked very nicely -- firm yet moist and flavorful.
Although not originally part of the standard Tepanyaki Eat-All-You-Can menu, these Spine Lobsters are available unlimited-ly for an additional P500. And if you're like me who can only eat lobsters occasionally, then I'd definitely say, go for it as these are really savory and juicy seafood treats worth the splurge!
After enjoying the lobster meat parts, we were served with a Lobster Miso Soup which uses the head and shell portions of the lobsters we just finished eating. While I enjoy simple and good ol' miso soup, this bowl really got me hooked. There's still the distinct taste of miso and the saltiness of dashi, but the strong lobster flavor really brought the cup to a whole new level.
After a seafood overload, it was time to feed the inner carnivore in us. We feasted on savory slices of medium rare lean US Beef Tenderloin, succulent US Beef Ribeye and wonderfully smooth and buttery US Wagyu Beef Striploin (add additional P500 to avail). We also had a Baby Lamb Chop infused with sweet, refreshing and flavorful Mint Jelly Sauce.
Being in a Japanese restaurant taking pride on its authenticity, we did what Japanese do -- eat fried rice last. (This is according to Chef Bibong who has already cooked for a lot of Japanese guests.) So after feasting on meal starters, vegetables, seafood and meat, our chef gladly prepared some Seafood Fried Rice for our table of four. Cooked with Japanese rice and a selection of flavorful ingredients, I understood why Japanese eat this bowl of rice on its own.
While I really felt very full after the multiple-course teppanyaki meal, I made sure to save some space for desserts as this is also part of the eat-all-you-can promo. First meal ender we had was a platter of soft and creamy Pancakes with Black Bean and Strawberry Ice Cream.
We also had some fresh fruit slices, as well as cups of Diamond Hotel's home-made ice creams -- Black Sesame, Raspberry Sorbet, Genmaicha and Taro-Jackfruit, the perfect sweet endings to a hearty teppanyaki-style dinner.
This review is probably one of the longest ones I've posted to date. But as much as I had a hard time writing and coding this entry, it was more grueling to look at the photos and to reminisce at how sumptuous this teppanyaki eat-all-you-can dinner was.
With calming and beautiful interiors, great service both from the attendants and the chef, and food quality as excellent and as fitting as that of a king's, I definitely say splurging for a tepanyaki eat-all-you-can experience at Yurakuen is certainly worth it.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4.5/5
Price - 3/5
Overall Value - 4.5/5
Teppanyaki Eat-All-You-Can Rate:
Lunch & Dinner - P1,970++
(with unlimited standard drinks, local and Kirin beer)
Unlimited Premium Food Items - Add P500 (per item)
(Black Cod, Chilean Seabass, Black Seabass, Spine Lobster, US Black Angus Beef Tenderloin,
US Wagyu Beef Sirloin, US Wagyu Beef Striploin, US Wagyu Short Ribs)
Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant, Diamond Hotel
Hotel's Lobby, Diamond Hotel
Roxas Blvd. cor. Dr. J. Quintos St.,
Manila, Metro Manila
(02) 528-3000 loc. 1127