There is beauty in the simplicity of Japanese food. At plain sight, their dishes might seem like just what it is; but upon tasting, an explosion of complex flavors will burst in your mouth, making it a gastronomic experience you’ll never forget.
Japanese cuisine has always been my favorite. As a heavy rice eater, I love most (if not all) of what they serve: sushi, curry, donburi – you name it! With my passion for Japanese food, I have tried numerous restaurants in search for the best one in the Metro and recently, I discovered a hidden gem in Little Baguio, San Juan called Fukujin Izakaya. After trying it out, it honestly easily ranked as one of my top choices to go to for a delicious and unique Japanese meal.
Fukujin Izakaya is a resto-bar specializing in Japanese meals with a twist. The head chef, Paul Castillo, has vigorously perfected his craft and uses that skill to elevate traditional Japanese food into something distinct and long-lasting (flavor-wise). Western techniques, Asian flavors, and local flavors are all incorporated to produce something new without disregarding the cuisine.
After tasting their bestsellers, you’ll surely be craving for Japanese food specifically from Fukujin Izakaya. Again, the dishes might seem simple, but the dealbreaker lies in the tastes. They make use of spices, homemade sauces, and nothing but fresh ingredients that are all meticulously cooked to create their signature trademark.
They have an extensive list of Japanese food on their menu, but here’s a run-down of what we ate:
Let’s start off with the sushi. We had two kinds of sushi: Land and Sea Maki (Php 380) and Salmon Aburi Maki (Php450). The former sushi has the best of both worlds: fresh shrimp tempura wrapped in nicely seasoned rice and with an Australian Striploin added on top.
The latter is for those who prefer a more indulgent flavor; the cream cheese and torched salmon will entirely envelop your mouth.
They also have a special Nigiri that will be part of their menu soon. I tell you: it’s worth every penny.
FNext, we have their Cheese Gyoza. I love cheese and I can assure you that this isn’t just some faux cheese to make it more satisfying; they use something beyond satisfactory. The piping-hot cheese is wrapped in crunchy gyoza wrap and then drizzled with some spicy mayonnaise. It’s a must-try at only Php200.
Want some veggies? They have salads, too! Their Seaweed Kani Salad (Php280) is made of shredded crab meat and tempura flakes with sesame marinated seaweed and drizzled with spicy mayonnaise dressing and unagi (eel) sauce.
They also have a Spicy Salmon Salad (Php360) for those who prefer something spicier.
While waiting for the bigger meals, Fukujin Izakaya’s Roasted Bone Marrow (Php280) can satisfy your palate. This sinful dish is as soft as butter yet as savory as steak. It is served with Toast Points to saturate the umami.
Last but definitely not the least for their appetizers is their Smoked Duck Ala Mansi (Php380). It’s visually appealing and its taste is even more divine. This smoked duck is tender and juicy; the acidity of the thinly-sliced calamansi and citrus juice balance out the flavor of the meat.
Moving on to the main courses, they have Chicken Umami Soba (Php320). Soba consists of thin noodles made from buckwheat and can be eaten hot or cold. This one is prepared with carbonara as the soba is mixed in a rich mushroom dashi (kelp) sauce. It’s topped with grilled chicken to make it even more filling.
*Also available: Chicken Teriyaki (grilled chicken thigh with Fukujin’s Teriyaki sauce)
You will love their Smoked Halibut Tempura (Php540) even if you’re not a fan of seafood. This type of flounder fish is known for its mild yet delicious taste whilst being a good source of omega-3. It’s deep fried in tempura batter and then poured on some Whisky Beurre Blanc (creamy butter).
If you’re looking for a light but savory meal, their Yakitori (Php80.00) (chicken) and Ox Tongue (Php150.00) kushiyaki (skewers) are perfect for you.
Japanese Curry is one of the best comfort food you can eat in Japan; Fukujin Izakaya’s version is no exemption to this. Their Pork Curry Nabe-meshi (Php320) is served in a bowl with curry broth, rice, crispy pork belly, and other ingredients. Imagine the curry broth already infused in the rice. This gives it a depth of flavor you’ll love to always taste in curry.
For dessert, you should definitely try Fukujin’s Nori Ice Cream (Php90). This is the first and only seaweed ice cream in the Philippines! I know. It’s surprising because seaweed-flavored iced cream sounds insane, but it actually works! The creamy vanilla ice cream is infused with nori and topped with what looks like tempura flakes (but is actually shredded corn). The saltiness of the seaweed and the sweetness of the corn puffs make one hell of a dessert.
If you’re craving for great Japanese food, you now know where to find it. Trust us: this one is a Japanese restaurant you should try. Itadakimasu!
TNA Building, San Juan