Just mention Japanese and you’ve got my full attention. Mention Japanese cuisine and this girl’s attention meter is jumping all the way up to ‘eleven.’ And on that level sticky Japanese rice (gohan) becomes near heavenly that I end up jumbling ‘exercise’ for ‘extra rice’ and I dive into a 25-hour crave fest for rice-based dishes like Onigiri (rice balls), Donburi (rice bowls), and of course, an endless variety of sushi.
To meet that intensely irresistible craving and to break my perpetual half-cup-of-rice-only diet, my sushi squad and I decided to try ROFL, which stands for Rolls of Friends/Family and Lovers/Loved ones – a Japanese restaurant along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.
It’s almost hidden behind SM Hypermarket and Berkeley Condominium, but their tarpaulin sign led us to a small parking space between a bakery and Mercury Drug. We knew we arrived when the sign “Best sushi here” plastered over pictures of Maki Sushi caught our eyes. Time to get our sushi fix!
This homey little restaurant only has a single table on the first floor, so we climbed up the spiral staircase to a well-lit space adorned with off-white walls, character-printed tenugui (Japanese traditional cloth) and other kawaii Japanese decors.
Settling in a table for six and slowly relaxing to instrumentals of Japanese OSTs in the background, we were ready to order. To our delight, they had reasonably-priced nigiri sushi and hosomaki starting at P70, sushi rolls ranging from P189 to P289, and sushi platters for groups who want to try their most popular variants.
Based off of those prices, ROFL becomes the apt spot for those who want to enjoy Japanese food regularly. Add a great Wi-Fi connection and an ambiance that encourages conversation and it becomes a great place for a casual lunch or dinner date.
One of my friends tried their Daily Sushi Lunch Set with the accompanying miso soup upgraded to a hot bowl of ramen (+P80). It was then that an attentive server – as it’s typical of almost every Japanese restaurant – offered complimentary hot/cold barley and green service tea. I’m assuming that it acts as a palate cleanser. Some have opined that the roasted barley flavor goes well with the food while for my friends, it had them comparing it to smoked wood, burnt sinaing, or even taho!
Sushi is great for sharing with a group of friends. For our sushi squad of four, their Sushi Moriawase-Deluxe had something for everyone. A carnival of pinkish and nude colors from the 15 pieces of fresh fish draped over hand-rolled rolls of vinegared rice. The spread just looked so colorfully appealing that we were encouraged to try the more adventurous kinds like Uni (sea urchin), which as one of my friends commented, tasted like it was fresh from the sea. In the end, I went back to basics, though. I thought the Salmon Sushi was the best with its bright taste and slightly firm texture.
And they have so much more than just sushi and rolls, too…
We followed up with Donburi, or Japanese rice bowls topped with cooked fish or meat with sauce and vegetables. At that point, my half-cup-of-rice diet was a mere fading vestigial remnant of an inconsequential illusion. Still, I went for the safe choice -the totally pedestrian but delicious Teriyaki Chicken Don (P228) because, well, everybody loves teriyaki.
However, that totally-fun-loving-adventurous-devil-may-care primal part of me clandestinely eyed my friend’s vibrant Kaisen Barachirashi (P278). Actually, his order was a slightly different beast from donburi as instead of cooked meats or fish it’s topped with diced sashimi and cucumber over sushi rice. It looked like an oversized, deconstructed nigiri sushi or more precisely “chirashi (aka. scattered sushi).”
If you’re not familiar with takoyaki from Osaka – those crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside batter balls filled with octopus- ROFL’s version comes in chunky squares and are filled with ika (squid) instead. For those who like things deep-fried, ROFL offers an assortment of shrimp, squid, and vegetables tempura.
We got to try their Matcha fondue with fruits, matcha pound cake, and Azuki (red bean) pancake dipped into the chocolaty Matcha sauce. Magic happened when they poured hot water over the dipping sauce and turned it into matcha latte after a little stir! I love how the matcha sauce lent its color and earthy flavor to the bite-sized pieces but some found it a bit too sweet for their liking. Their recipe might still change, though since it’s still an upcoming menu item.
Certainly not the least, thanks to a Tokyo sushi academy alumnus Chef Hiro for the fresh Japanese fare that landed on our plate. With him at the helm of the kitchen and serving us personally, we were brought on a short virtual culinary trip to Japan for a totally oishii experience.
For now, I wouldn’t contest their claim of being one of the best choices in Diliman for sushi lovers who want value for money. They delivered the all important freshness factor, only mildly-vinegared rice, and a good seafood-to-rice ratio consistent with every nori-wrapped piece. I highly recommend sushi fans to visit their little nook and roll into a food coma right after!
My sushi cravings have been o-fish-ally satisfied!
P.S. Nobody in the sushi squad turned into a short, fat chibi character that started running around the restaurant shouting, “oishii, oishii!” That’s just so totally not true.
ROFL Sushi Restaurant
Mon-Sat (11:00-21:30) Sun (11:30-21:30)
K2 Bldg., 341 Katipunan Avenue. Quezon City