Light, crispy and non-greasy – this is how a delicious tempura should be.
The year was 2013 when the happy couple Celline Bautista and Jason Bautista were about to head home from their honeymoon until they realized they hadn’t had tempura during their trip. They ended up in a mom-and-pop store in Asakusa simply hoping for a quick fix, not knowing they were in for the biggest treat!
The tempura they tasted was so good, they knew they had to let more people back home enjoy it. The owners of the store were more than delighted to teach them the art of making the perfect tempura, and the rest, as they say, is history! As Celline shares, it was “out of love of Japanese food, and Japan, that prompted us to set up a restaurant, and serve guests with the best tempura.”
Named after the memorable place where they found the “best tempura,” the restaurant is called ASAKUSA.
Asakusa just opened its third branch in Ayala Malls Feliz after successfully establishing itself as a homegrown Japanese restaurant at the Grove by Rockwell, as well as in Ayala Malls Vertis North. It was a beautiful day, and of course, we couldn’t pass up the chance to try their dishes.
Asakusa’s menu only has 28 items. This is because they put greater value in perfecting each dish rather than having a variety of average options. It’s like the saying, “the better the restaurant, the smaller the menu.”
We had Gyoza (Php228) as our appetizer; but if you’re looking for something fresh to eat before indulging in the main dish, you can also try their Tuna Salad (Php218) or Salmon Salad (Php258).
The sought-after 5 star Shogun Set – Black Tiger Prawns (Php608) is a shared dish for two people. It’s crispy, light, and bigger than usual tempura. It’s served with the traditional tempura sauce or Asakusa sauce – the latter, being thicker and sweeter than the regular dip.
They offer five tempura sets – the Geisha Set (shiitake mushroom, squash, eggplant, sweet potato, and French beans), Seafood Catch (black tiger prawn, fish, squid, and kani), Samurai Set (black tiger prawn, fish, squid, eggplant, squash, and French beans), Shogun Set (black tiger prawns), and Emperor Set (black tiger prawns, scallop, shiitake mushroom, kani, fish, zucchini, and French beans). All sets come with plain rice, but we upgraded ours to fried rice (a must-try!)
Note: A good way to try a little bit of everything is to create your own set, where you can choose the tempura, side dish, and sauce.
Asakusa’s Gyudon (Php318) is also enjoyable. It has a hefty serving of sweet and flavorful thinly sliced beef and is topped with egg (you can have it raw or poached), onions, leeks, and pickled red ginger. This Japanese bowl is a simple and foolproof meal – perfect for when you’re in a rush, or are just undecided about what to order!
We couldn’t miss out on the Japanese food staple California Maki (Php258), either – a delicious dish that helps cleanse the palate. These Japanese rolls can easily become anyone’s all-time fave, and that was the case here.
After the heavy meals, we decided to get some treats. There are two desserts on the menu: Coffee Jelly (Php118) and Valrhona Chocolate Brownies with Green Tea Ice Cream (Php158). I like the former.
Refreshing, and sweet – perfect as a classic comfort dessert. The crunchy bits also complement the ice cream well.
On the other hand, matcha lovers will appreciate the Valrhona Chocolate Brownies with Green Tea Ice Cream – made extra creamy, and tempting. This is sweeter compared to the coffee jelly, but is just as satisfying!
The food is undoubtedly the highlight of the restaurant, but guests will also appreciate the modern and interesting (almost industrial) interior of Asakusa. It makes for a great place to catch up with friends and family over good food and fun stories. The owners also made sure to add an authentic touch to everything – from the kitchen equipment to the hanging scroll paintings by the restroom – all of which came from Japan.
Asakusa currently has three branches in Grove by Rockwell, Ayala Malls Vertis North, and Ayala Malls Feliz; but they will soon open more stores to serve in the South and the Bay Area, as well. Have you tried Asakusa yet? How was your experience?
ASAKUSA: Home of Tempura
Level 3, Ayala Malls Feliz, Santolan, Pasig