Arafu Cafe: Home-Style Japanese Comfort Food at SM North

While the Metro is already bustling with ramen houses, izakaya joints and teppanyaki places, this new Japanese restaurant at SM City North EDSA, doesn't fall under these categories. Instead, it boasts of offering Japanese comfort food that will make Japanese expatriates feel at home, and make Filipinos fall more in love with the healthy and homey dishes of Japanese cuisine. The name of the place? Arafu Cafe.
Arafu Cafe SM City North EDSA

Located at SM City North EDSA's 3rd floor, Arafu Cafe is a laid-back Japanese restaurant owned by Ms. Manami Maejima. The business first started as a food delivery service catering to Japanese expatriates in Bonifacio Global City. Due to its growing market, a store was first opened at the ground floor of South of Market Condominium in The Fort. And just earlier this year, another branch was built. This time, to cater more to Filipino foodies craving for authentic home-style Japanese comfort food in the north.

Arafu Cafe at SM North Edsa

If you know me, you'd have an idea of how much I love Japanese food. And while at Arafu Cafe there's aplenty, you won't find sushi or sashimi on the menu. Their specialty are homey Japanese dishes, something I'd usually crave for after watching my favorite cooking channel on Youtube, Cooking with Dog. To match the home-style Japanese food, the restaurant itself is kept as homey. There's even catchy yet mellow JPOP music playing in the background. And have I mentioned, there's also free Wi-Fi?

Condiments at Arafu Cafe
Condiments at Arafu Cafe: Uster Sauce (for fried foods; thin in consistency), Ichimi (ground red chili pepper), Tonkatsu Sauce (thick Worcestershire sauce), and Soy Sauce
Dashimaki Tamago (P160)
Dashimaki Tamago (P160)
To start off our lunch, we first had a serving of the Dashimaki Tamago which I commonly know as tamagoyaki. This egg dish usually cooked with rice vinegar, sugar and sake and rolled in layers is a traditional Japanese item in bento boxes. Eaten with grated daikon radish and some soy sauce, the soft and ligt texture coupled with hints of sweetness, successfully whetted our palate making this item a perfect meal starter.

Ebi Fry (2-pc P278; 3-pc P388)
✓ Ebi Fry (2-pc P278; 3-pc P388)
While the first dish was good, this plate of Ebi Fry is what gave the signal that we're on board a great Japanese lunch. To be honest, I prefer ebi tempura more than ebi fry items. However, this serving was just so good that I immediately fell in love with it upon first bite. The prawn itself was cooked perfectly soft and moist, while the batter with panko breading was fried to an enjoyable crunch. I liked munching on it dipped in the Japanese mayo with some lemon juice, but it's great to eat it on its own too.

Yaki Udon (P270)
Yaki Udon (P270)
For some carbs, we also had the Yaki Udon which is a traditional fried udon noodle dish with squid, pork and vegetables topped with fried egg. Although I'm not a big fan of yaki udon, I have to admit that I found myself eating mouthful after mouthful. The udon itself was cooked nicely, but the main factor that won me over was the taste itself, a medley of savory flavors with a little saltiness from the katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) and a hint of sour from the kizami shoga (pickled ginger) cutting through all the flavors.

TAWARA Hamburg Steak with Teriyaki Sauce (P320)
✓ TAWARA Hamburg Steak with Teriyaki Sauce (P320)
The star of our lunch was the TAWARA Hamburg Steak with Teriyaki Sauce. This is also the very item Arafu Cafe is pushing forth. Using a real Japanese recipe, I have to admit that I was excited to try it out despite having a fair share of Japanese hamburgs in Manila. By the way, a serving for dine-in comes with refillable Japanese rice and soup.

TAWARA Hamburg Steak
TAWARA Hamburg Steak with vegetables on the side
TAWARA Hamburg Steak Up-Close
TAWARA Hamburg Steak up-close
SFX: om nom nom nom
Unlike Western hamburger patties, Japanese hamburgs are made from not only beef, but also pork. The same also goes for the TAWARA Hamburg Steak which is very juicy and very succulent. It's also plump, coming in a thicker size than other hamburgs I've tried before. Ms. Maejima shared that most Japanese prefer their hamburgs without sauce. Filipinos on the other hand, love it sweet and flavorful with teriyaki sauce.

Japanese Demiglace Sauce
TIP: You can request for the Japanese sauce or the Demi-Glace sauce
Although not on the menu, there are 2 other sauces the TAWARA Hamburg Steak can come with. First is the Japanese sauce which is light and on the savory and salty side. Then, there's also the subtly-flavored but with a bitter aftertaste that is the demi-glace which is probably made with chicken stock. Personally, I prefer either the teriyaki or the Japanese sauce as they both go well with not just the hamburg but also on rice.

New Item Dorayaki
Up-and-Coming Item: Dorayaki (Doraemon's favorite snack)
For dessert, we were given a sneak peek of the Dorayaki -- a sort of sweet sandwich with 2 Japanese pancakes (similar to Castella cake) filled with sweet azuki red bean paste and cream. I'm not sure when this item will be rolled out on Arafu Cafe's menu, but I'll definitely order this when it becomes available!

Ice Green Tea Latte (P138)
✓ Ice Green Tea Latte (P138)
As for drinks, do not dare miss the Ice Green Tea Latte. It's the restaurant's bestselling beverage, and one of my favorite refreshments. It has the right balance of matcha green tea and milk making it tasty and creamy. It's also served with a honey-sugar syrup should you want to make it sweeter, along with a piece of Homemade Marble Cookie (P80 for 6 pieces) which is another best-selling item at Arafu Cafe.

THE VERDICT

After a visit to Arafu Cafe, I'm very positive that another trip is in order. Although I haven't been to Japan yet, I'm happy to have gotten a taste of real home-style Japanese comfort food. Everything we had that afternoon was good at the very least, despite the dishes being quite simple and straight-forward. And with prompt and courteous service, a nice and laid-back ambiance, and fast and free Wi-Fi to boot, I'm sure I'll be spending another afternoon lazing (and perhaps, even blogging) inside Arafu Cafe.

Taste - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Arafu Cafe, SM City North EDSA
3/F SM City North EDSA, North Ave., Quezon City
Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 403-3794; 441-0268; (0908) 3091-983
Facebook Page

Other Branches:
G/F South of Market Condominium, 11th Ave. cor. 25th St.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

23 comments:

  1. I'm subscribe din sa cooking with dog haha. Definitely want to visit again and try their other dishes. Btw heard they ave an eat all you can

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    1. Saw that on their FB page too! I'm not sure if it's a one-weekend promo or if it'll be offered every weekend. If it's the latter, I'd love to give it a try! :D

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  2. LOL at the om nom nom sfx ;) I hope they open more branches soon. This place looks very promising. :)

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    1. It is! :) Let's hope they open more branches all over the metro.

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  3. oh! everything looks good! I might swing by sometime lapit lang saken :) the yakiudon and tawara looks yumz!

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    1. They're delish! :) I'm planning to go back soon too. Buti nalang malapit lang SM North~

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  4. Wow, I'm interested because it's Japanese-owned.

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    1. I have high expectations on Japanese-owned restaurants too :)

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  5. Boyfriend influenced me with Japanese food. I'm pretty sure he would love to visit this too kaso it's too far from our place. Sna makapunta sa SM North kami together. I'll that in mind, Ice Green tea latte :D

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    1. Go try Arafu Cafe :) In case you're nearer the Taguig area, you can check out their branch at The Fort ^^

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  6. Now I'm really craving for Japanese food. haha

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  7. Your photos are enticing enough! I am not a huge fan of Japanese foods but there are some of their dishes I would love to have as often as I can! This TAWARA Hamburg Steak with Teriyaki Sauce made it to my list of must try stuff! Thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Try it when you have the chance, sis :) And thanks for the compliment ^^

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  8. wow! i really like to try out this kind of food... pictures are making me hungry now..

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  9. tried this out a few days ago and i liked it very much! will definitely go back there.

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    1. We share the same sentiments! :D I'm actually planning to go back this weekend.

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  10. Food looks awesome!!! Question though... why is it you're still fit as a fiddle even if you could eat a lot??? :)

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    1. You're such a flatterer, achie Jaz! Haha :D I'm in now way as fit as a fiddle! I just know how to hide the tabs :))

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  11. Finally! SM North! Lapit lang. hihihi. I'll take my family here soon. It's been a while since we last had Japanese food :)

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  12. I love their hamburg steak and Green Tea ice cream also Ms. Sumi! So delicious! ^^

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  13. Another Japanese Cafe ;) That hamburger steak looks promising :D

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  14. A friend took me there to have lunch last thursday, I had the TAWARA Hamburg Steak with Teriyaki Sauce it was delicious. The staff and the owner were very accommodating... the owner even had time to chat with us. ^_^

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  15. I didn't know that Arafu opened last year pa pala! My friends and I ate there a couple of months ago. I love the interior! :)

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