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.
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?
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.
|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)|
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.
|✓ Ebi Fry (2-pc P278; 3-pc P388)|
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.
|Yaki Udon (P270)|
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 with Teriyaki Sauce (P320)|
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.
|TAWARA Hamburg Steak with vegetables on the side|
|TAWARA Hamburg Steak up-close|
SFX: om nom nom nom
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.
|TIP: You can request for the Japanese sauce or the Demi-Glace sauce|
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!
|Up-and-Coming Item: Dorayaki (Doraemon's favorite snack)|
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.
|✓ Ice Green Tea Latte (P138)|
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
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
G/F South of Market Condominium, 11th Ave. cor. 25th St.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Posted in: comfort food, food, home-style, japanese, japanese-western, quezon city, sm north, yoshoku