Being a big Japanese food fanatic, people have already told me countless times to pay Little Tokyo in Makati a visit. I've been in the area once, but wasn't able to blog about the experience for lack of decent photos and details. So when my food buddies and I went to the Japanese food haven for a quick snack, I knew I should start a Little Tokyo Series not just to share with you the good eats I've found in the area, but also to motivate myself to visit the place more often and try every restaurant that Little Tokyo has to offer.
Located at the back of Makati Cinema Square in Pasong Tamo extension, Little Tokyo houses a cluster of Japanese eateries and even grocery stores mostly owned by Japanese nationals. Although the quaint but oriental-themed compound is quite small, the area has been a haven not just for local foodies, but also for Japanese expats. And for a Japanese food lover like me, this is indeed a very good sign.
There are a number of small restaurants in the area, but to start off this series, let me share with you first my recent visit to Kagura, a simple eatery specializing in okonomiyaki or Japanese savory pancakes. Like most restaurants in the compound, the seating capacity in Kagura is pretty much very limited. There are a handful of seats by the counter, 3 sets of tatami tables, and about 2 to 3 tables for al fresco dining.
If you're a fan of Ranma 1/2, then you've probably heard of this Japanese savory treat. There are different types of okonomiyaki with different sets of toppings, but for this trip, we decided to go for the Negiyaki Okonomiyaki (P260) -- Japanese pancake with welsh onion, pork and egg, drenched with a sweet and savory okonomiyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise, then topped with seaweed flakes.
Although I'm not a big fan of pancakes in general, I definitely dig its savory Japanese counterpart. The okonomiyaki batter is quite tasty even on its own, and with a variety of toppings, a single order can definitely leave 2 to 3 people stuffed.
The restaurant specializes in okonomiyaki, but they also carry a decent selection of both grilled and non-grilled items such as the Karashi Mayonnaise Ika Yaki-Soba (P270) -- Japanese fried noodles in a karashi (Japanese mustard)-mayo sauce, topped with squid, pork, seaweed flakes and beni shoga (Japanese pickled ginger).
Since I love the distinct hot flavor of karashi which tastes a wee bit similar to wasabi, I definitely enjoyed how its refreshing spicy taste blended beautifully with the Japanese mayo, making the soft yet firm noodle dish one hot and savory ensemble.
We also got ourselves a serving of Tonpei-Yaki (P198) -- sautéed pork sandwich in fried eggs, and served with a cabbage salad on the side, a slice of lemon, some karashi, Japanese mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce. Although I generally like pork dishes, I didn't quite dig this fried item. The pork in egg roll was soft, light in flavor and a little too oily for my liking. Dipping it in sauce makes the pork omelette more flavorful, but I guess I was just expecting the cutlets to be well-seasoned and tasty even on its own.
Aside from the authentic Japanese food and friendly prices, I liked the fact that most restaurants in Little Tokyo allow cross-ordering from other eateries. While staying in a tatami seat inside Kagura, we ordered a serving of Takoyaki (P120) from its neighboring restaurant, Hana. And while I'm already excited to share with you the best takoyaki balls I've had so far, I think you'll have to wait a little for my review specially dedicated on Hana.
Kagura's space might not be big which can pose a problem for diners in large groups. But for a barkada of 5, seating in a tatami table is definitely comfortable to enjoy both a good conversation and an equally satisfying meal. Although the items we've tried were quite good, only the okonomiyaki left a lasting impression. However, this visit for an evening snack at Kagura didn't go in vain as it definitely motivated me to aim trying all the restaurants in Little Tokyo.
Ambiance - 3.5/5
Service - 3/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Kagura, Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo, Chino Roces Ave., Legaspi Vill.
Makati City, Metro Manila