At this time of the year, you’ve probably seen a lot of your Facebook and Instagram friends fill your news feed with Sakura-themed travel photos and selfies. And while we do have our local version of a Cherry Blossom-like tree in Marikina, you too can also a taste of Japanese culture thru an authentic Japanese dining experience. Friends, let me introduce you to Shinsen.
Shinsen is the brain child of a group of business partners aiming to revolutionize customer service here in the Philippines. Shinsen moves on the business model aiming customer-centricity. Prepare to be treated like the King and Queen that you are once you step foot inside the restaurant because that’s exactly the kind of treatment you’ll get. From the staff pulling your chair amicably, down to the pouring of your drinks so you won’t have to lift a finger. It truly embodies the Japanese way of hospitality when it comes to dining.
Now, let’s get on to the food because I’m as excited as you are to share everything that we’ve tried.
Tempura Moriawase – P298.00
The Tempura Moriawase is a combination of seafood and vegetables cooked tempura style. The fish was tender and creamy and perfectly complements the sauce. The shrimp was also fresh and had the perfect amount of crisp on every bite.
Salmon Cheese Maki – P378.00
I usually like my salmon prepared sashimi style, but when I had my first bite, all the flavors just exploded in my mouth. There was a hint of mango, shrimp, cucumber, cream cheese and of course, the divine flavor of salmon.
Unagi Maki – P298.00
I’m very picky when it comes to unagi or eel becomes it tends to have that fishy taste and smell if not prepared the right way. Shinsen’s Unagi Maki had a fusion of sweet and savory taste all from the freshness of the eel. It was also well-complemented by the rice with mangoes.
Spicy Salmon Maki – P198.00
The Spicy Salmon Maki contains salmon with a special spicy mayo dressing on top, and of course, combined with the usual ingredients of a sushi roll. The taste can be compared to California Maki except better, or multiply the umami taste times 10.
Okonomiyaki – P338.00
While we all know the all-so-popular Okonomiyaki aka Japanese pancakes, I bet you’ve never tried Okonomiyaki with ramen noodles on top! This is exactly what this dish is all about. It’s savory Japanese pancake made with batter, cabbage, egg, sliced bacon, shrimp, squid and of course the most unique ingredient—ramen noodles! Top it off with bonito flakes and you’ll surely let out a huge burp after devouring this.
Uni Tempura – P298.00
Of all the things we’ve tried, this would probably be my favorite. I mean, I love sea urchin sashimi but I didn’t know it could be served way better than that! The uni tempura was crunchy on the outside but gooey and savory on the inside. Once I bit into it, the uni filling just oozed into my mouth giving me a taste of the ocean. I promise you, if you haven’t tried uni in your life, this would be an awesome dish for a first.
Spicy Miso Ramen – P298.00
The Spicy Miso Ramen is surprisingly the only ramen in the menu, but once you taste it, you’ll know why. It’s THAT good to withstand being the only ramen on the menu. The noodles are nestled in light spice miso with tamago, onion leeks, chasyu, and fish cake.
Spicy Tuna Salad – P308.00
The Spicy Tuna Salad is another one of their salad variations and is a lot like the spicy seafood salad. The only difference is the main ingredient, which is tuna respectively for this dish. Before you even take a bite, you’ll see huge chunks of fresh tuna sashimi covered in their creamy spicy sauce.
Chirashi Sushi – P548.00
If you’re wondering what a chirashi bowl is, it’s basically an array of raw fish on top of rice. Whenever I visit Japanese restaurants, this is a must because the rice they use for chirashi is simply different and it is telling of the authenticity of the place. I can definitely tell you Shinsen has one of the best salmon sashimi I’ve ever tasted in my life. It was creamy and buttery and everything you could ever wish for when eating raw salmon.
Another revelation was the squid. I usually skip it because it’s so rubbery and it always has that fishy smell, but well, not on this one. It was so tender it practically melted in my mouth. All I had to to was add a dash of wasabi to complete the cycle.
Gindara Teriyaki – P878.00
Gindara is a rarity. Whenever we would go to Japanese restaurants, it would be on the menu but it won’t always be available. Which is why I was surprised when we were served with this amazing and very tasty fish glazed in teriyaki sauce. It was so soft; it’s as if we didn’t have to chew it!
Spicy Seafood Salad – P358.00
Last but not the least, we sort of wanted to end things with something light…so salad it is. But it was smothered in all sorts of mixed seafood, cabbage and carrots topped with the chef’s special dressing, so I guess we can skip the healthy part. In most restaurants, we’d usually see the spicy tuna salad, but not this one. It was amazing how there was no amount of fishy smell nor taste even on our last spoonful. All we could savor was the flavorful taste of the ocean and that Japanese umami.
So while you’re still saving up for that most coveted Japan Trip, why not give Shinsen a visit and amaze yourself with a primer of what’s in store for you when you go to the land of the rising sun? I definitely promise you won’t be disappointed. Arigato Gozaimasu!
Shinsen Sushi Bar and Restaurant
2/F Hampton Gardens Arcade, C Raymundo Ave, Maybunga, Pasig