Ginza Bairin: Home of Authentic Japanese Katsu in Manila

Katsu or Japanese breaded cutlet has been a pretty integral part of the Pinoys' dining routine nowadays. From way back when Pinoys can only enjoy katsu in our neighboring Asian countries, we now have a good lineup of katsu houses in the metro that offer the classic pork cutlet or tonktasu, and more. And while I still haven't tried all the katsu places yet, let me at least share with you a piece of my experience at Ginza Bairin.
Ginza Bairin Trinoma
Entrance to Ginza Bairin Trinoma
For some background, the founder of Ginza Bairin, Nobokatsu Shibuya was an epicurean pharmacist who decided to close down his pharmaceutical company and open a tonkatsu specialty restaurant in 1927 -- the first in the luxurious district of Ginza in Tokyo. Back then, tonktasu was only eaten with worchestershire or demiglaze sauce, and Nobukatsu developed the first tonkatsu sauce called the "Bairin" or plum forest sauce, from which is said to hold the secret behind their tonkatsu sauce. He also moved onto using panko (light flaky bread crumbs), while others still used old bread and sugar.

Ginza Bairin UP Town Center
At Ginza Bairin UP Town Center
Today, Ginza Bairin still remains a boutique (third generation) family-ran katsu chain, but with branches not just in Tokyo, but also in Hawaii, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Seoul, and now, in Metro Manila. And I'm sure glad I got to dine at all 3 of Ginza Bairin's branches here -- Glorietta 2, UP Town Center, and the newest one in Trinoma.

This post is a collection of all my visits to all three Ginza Bairin branches.
So please forgive the inconsistencies on the photos' lighting. [/excuses]

The Appetizers

When I eat at katsu restaurants, I usually pay no mind to appetizers. Why would I when katsu sets already include complimentary and unlimited cabbage salad and miso soup? However, with wider selection of meal starters, I thought I'd give Ginza Bairin's a try.

Chawan Mushi (P100 Ala Carte; P75 Add-on) and Hiyayakko Tofu (P95)
Chawan Mushi (P100 Ala Carte; P75 Add-on) and Hiyayakko Tofu (P95)
First on our table was the Chawan Mushi which is a steamed egg custard with mushrooms and kani. Though the bottom of this serving doesn't have a lot of surprises, the soft, smooth and quite jiggly texture as well as its taste that oozes with seafood goodness are enough to get me hooked.

The Hiyayakko Tofu on the other hand which uses Japanese silken tofu cubes is another welcome addition to our set of appetizers. Served with spring onions, ginger, cucumber and bonito flakes, this is a simple and straight-forward meal starter that reminded me why I love Japanese cuisine in the first place.

Kani Mango Salad (P180 Regular; P345 Large)
Kani Mango Salad (P180 Regular; P345 Large)
Although my palate was already successfully whetted, we still tried some of the Kani Mango Salad which is a tasty ensemble of greens, cucumbers, panko, ripe mango slices, kani and ebiko in a flavorful Japanese mayo dressing. And while I'm perfectly fine with the complimentary cabbage salad, people who might not be a fan of cabbage can order this more colorful and generally friendlier salad for himself or for sharing.

The Special Katsudon

Call me weird, but I used to dislike katsudon as I find its taste too tiring on the palate. The sauce infused with the egg and the wilted onions on rice -- they all seemed too overbearing for my easy-to-be-bored taste buds. BUT, not Ginza Bairin's katsudon.

Special Katsudon Set (P395)
✓ Special Katsudon Set (P395)
So far, this is the only katsudon that got me wolfing down mouthful after mouthful. And why shouldn't I? This is one of Ginza Bairin's pride as even one of my heroes, Iron Chef Rokusaburo Michiba, hailed it as “the best katsudon he have ever had in his life.” Well, if that's not good enough to convince you to try this, then I don't know what will.

Ginza Bairin Special Katsudon
Katsudon egg porn~
Unlike most katsudons I've had, this bowl had tender and succulent hire katsu over a serving of fragrant Japanese koshihikari rice which is drenched in a flavorful sauce of broth simmered for hours, with a double serving of golden farm fresh eggs -- one infused in the dish, and one beautifully sitting on top. ☆*:.。. o(≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆

You get to break that golden yolk which blends beautifully with the whole ensemble. And I don't know if it's just the yolk that really gets to me... But even if it is, it doesn't change the fact that this is still the only katsudon I've had so far that I willingly finished on my own!

The Katsu Sets

I've already ordered the Special Katsudon three times now! And while I still haven't gotten tired of it, and I doubt I would, I figured it would be wiser to order other sets too.

All sets include complimentary and unlimited hot genmaicha (brown rice tea), miso soup, cabbage salad, pickles, fruit slicess, and rice. Basically, everything except the katsu.

Kurobuta Rosu Katsu Set (P595)
✓ Kurobuta Rosu Katsu Set (P595)
On one of my visits, I had the Kurobuta Rosu Katsu Set which uses a cutlet of the Berkshire black pig prized for its texture and flavor. We all know that a rosu cut that has a layer of fat is juicier compared to the lean hire. However, since this is a Kurobuta pork, it's even more tender, succulent and flavorful as it has better marbling. As you know, fat = flavor, and this 120g of goodness delivers what anyone would want from a tonkatsu -- crisp, flaky, non-greasy outer layer, and an inside that oozes with juicy, meaty pork flavor.

TIP: To really appreciate the pork's goodness, try it without the tonkatsu sauce. Instead, dip a slice in some pink Himalayan salt. Enjoy!

Ginza Bairin Menchi Katsu with Cheese
Menchi Katsu with Cheese Set (P375)
Menchi Katsu with Cheese Set (P375)
If you've read my review for another katsu place, you'd know how much I love menchi katsu. So just imagine my joy when I found out that Ginza Bairin also have their own Menchi Katsu which comes either with or without cheese. I got to try the one with cheese, and it's definitely a cheese lover pleaser. Tucked inside the ground meat cutlet is creamy cheddar cheese that beautifully oozes and gives the meat distinct saltiness. It's very good when eaten with rice, but I personally found it a little too rich for my liking.

Menchi Katsu with Cheese Curry Set (P380)
✓ Menchi Katsu with Cheese Curry Set (P380)
It's not the case with the Menchi Katsu with Cheese Curry though. While I prefer Yabu's menchi katsu with just plain rice, with Ginza Bairin, I can't help but think their menchi katsu with cheese is meant to be eaten with curry. The spicy, earthy flavors of their homemade curry just blends beautifully with both the cheese and their menchi cutlets. Seriously, these two are a match made in heaven! ٩(●˙▿˙●)۶…⋆ฺ♡

Rosu Katsu Curry (P375)
Rosu Katsu Curry (P375)
If you love curry, but want a simpler protein in it, there's also the Rosu Katsu Curry. You'll get the same spicy, earthy and just delicious curry with Ginza Bairin's fattier cut of pork. This, I see my dad going for. But if you don't have anything against cheese, I still suggest you go for the Menchi Katsu with Cheese Curry.

Premium Seafood Set (P575)
✓ Premium Seafood Set (P575)
Seafood lovers don't need to look elsewhere since Ginza Bairin also has something for you. From their new offerings, they carry the Premium Seafood Set which includes a black tiger prawn, a Hiroshima oyster, a jumbo US sea scallop, and a kani cream korokke all in katsu form, of course. And while hefty eaters might find this set a little too small portion-wise, I can't deny that when it comes to quality, they nailed it! Every element here is something I'd gladly devour again and again (when my allergies subside).

The Desserts and Drinks

Watermelon Mint Shake (P100) and Matcha Vanilla Panna Cotta (P95)
Watermelon Mint Shake (P100) and ✓ Matcha Vanilla Panna Cotta (P95)
For something to quench the thirst, I had the refreshing Watermelon Mint Shake from their new menu. And to those looking for a light and subtle meal ender that won't overpower the palate, I recommend the Matcha Vanilla Panna Cotta. It has both a mellow matcha and vanilla flavor with an enjoyable soft and smooth texture. Yum!

Green Tea and Black Sesame Ice Cream (P80 per scoop)
✓ Green Tea and Black Sesame Ice Cream (P80 per scoop)
Alternatively, there's the Green Tea Ice Cream if you dig a creamier, more bitter-sweet meal ender. Or, the Black Sesame Ice Cream if you prefer a more nutty and textured ice cream. Either way, both are sure crowd-pleasers so go ahead and take your pick!

THE VERDICT

Manila's katsu rat race has never been this exciting. While I've found favorites from the other big katsu houses, Ginza Bairin proves to be yet another worthy competitor with its sumptuous appetizers and katsu sets. At the moment, I can't say that I'm biased towards any of these katsu restaurants. All of them are worthy of their popularity, with their continuous consistency in offering good food, great service and value for money. Seriously, you can eat at any of them and leave full and happy. But when it comes to katsudon, I can say that Ginza Bairin has won me, my heart, my stomach and my palate over! It's definitely one of, if not, the best katsudon I've had, so far! (۶´ヮ´)۶ʸᵉᵃʰᵎ

Taste 4.5/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Ginza Bairin, Trinoma
G/F (Garden) Trinoma, North Ave. cor. Mindanao Ave.,
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
+63 917 852-9975
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Other Branches:

Glorietta 2, Ayala, Makati
G/F Glorietta 2 (beside Wee Nam Kee)
+63 917 816-0057

UP Town Center, Katipunan, Quezon City
G/F UP Town Center
+63 917 871-0041

18 comments:

  1. The Japanese food are plated deliciously with different colors. This place seems perfect for dining in. More katsus to serve.

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    1. Definitely! When you get the chance, try dining in one of Ginza Bairin's branches. :) The food, service and ambiance are all a treat!

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  2. Your food shots never fail to make my mouth water. I still have to pay Ginza Bairin a visit and fulfill a promise to my boy. I hope we can finally dine there this weekend.

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    1. Thanks for the compliment, Mauie! <3 Hope you can finally try Ginza Bairin this weekend. I'm sure your boy will love it! ;)

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  3. Hmmm another katsu restaurant to try! The Kani Mango Salad looked flavorful and fresh. I think that alone will make me full enough. The katsudon egg porn is too tempting! It's perfect, wow! I thought the scoop of ice cream is too small though for the price.

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    1. Do try the Special Katsudon when you visit Ginza Bairin. The actual thing is more porn material than the photo! ;) And yeah, the scoop of ice cream is pretty small. It's good, but I think the coffee jelly with a scoop of vanilla ice cream at P90 has better value.

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  4. I love Japanese curry for their overflowing spicy taste. I'm sure to love the Menchi Katsu with Cheese Curry which is curry with cheese.

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  5. I haven't tried authentic japanese cuisine, but I'm looking forward to trying katsu and other delicacies

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    1. Give Ginza Bairin a try! It's a good place to get your first taste of katsu. :)

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  6. Another katsu place I haven't tried yet. I think I really need to go out a lot more. hahaha! :) I want to try the Kurobota!

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    1. Go give it a try, Michy! :) You'll definitely like it. Oh, and hope to see you soon! It's been so long already! ^^

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  7. Whyy.... Do you post such yummy pics.. I tried ginza bairin once and I regret not ordering their katsudon . BTW love reading the history of Ginza Bairin. It is something I don't usually include in my posts hehe

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    1. I don't include background and history of establishments too, UNLESS it's pretty interesting or something that my readers should know about. ^^ Anyway, order their Special Katsudon the next time you dine with them. I'd like to know what you think of it! ;)

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  8. I miss eating Japanese food. The desserts looks yummy! You know me, I like to eat sweets first before the main dishes :)

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  9. I wish they will have a branch here in the South. I like to try their Katsu and that Kani Mango Salad.

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  10. I haven't heard of this one before but to take your words, it sounds really interesting. I'll make sure to give it a try when I can come home in Summer.

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  11. I loved Ginaza Bairin. It was my first time there during the Trinoma Food Crawl and I'm planning to go back there with my family.

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  12. The price is reasonable pala at Ginza Bairin! I really want to try this resto. Thanks for sharing your experience

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