My (former) staff at our field office in the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan has informed me earlier this week of a new eating place near the City Hall. They said it was an authentic Japanese eatery – their definition of authentic being, “the cook is Japanese” – and they were raving about the taste of the food. Naturally, I had to try it. Unfortunately, I’m only scheduled to report at the CSJDM office on Tuesdays and Thursdays and since it was a holiday last Tuesday, I only got to sample it today.
The name of the eatery is “Tokyo Tee“. It’s a simple hole-in-the-wall resto; no ambiance to speak of, and the only thing that told me that it’s authentic Japanese – aside from the Japanese cook who was making fresh noodles as we entered; yes, you read that right, FRESH noodles – were the food items and condiments lined up at the kitchen area. All of them, including the salt, mayonnaise and the beer (Asahi) were Japanese brands. I even saw a couple of bottles of sake. Oh wait, there’s a non-Japanese brand: Del Monte tomato ketchup. I was pleasantly surprised, because I never expected to see authentic Japanese cuisine in that city. Even if it’s close to Metro Manila, the city center itself isn’t very progressive. Most of the known restaurants and fast food places can be found in other areas of the city.
Since it’s my first time to try this place, I decided to sample the ones that my former staff recommended:
The waitress said one order is good for only one, but it’s too much even for me who’s a heavy eater. My only comment on this is that it’s not as sticky as it should be, but taste-wise, it’s good. I love that all the food that I’ve tried on this eatery is neither bland nor salty; the balance of the flavor is just enough.
One of my companions ordered this and let me sample it. Paired with cabbage slices that could rival that of a getting-popular Katsu place here in our country, the tori katsu is quite filling. However, I found it to be a tad bit overcooked because I like my fried chicken to be soft and juicy. This one’s crispy like chicharon (which is good, too, except that I did not order for chicharon). Side note: I love that they didn’t sacrifice quality over cost and used Japanese mayo as dressing which is like, double the price of regular mayonnaise.
This was one of the items that my staff were raving about. And thankfully, it did not disappoint. It’s so NOT like the usual gyoza that are served in most Japanese restaurants here, especially the ‘fast food’ variety. For one thing, Tokyo Tee’s gyoza is not as oily as the others. The accompanying sauce doesn’t have the “umay” after-taste that makes one feeling nauseated after eating. It’s a good thing that we had two orders, otherwise I’d be fighting with my companions over this.
This one’s the highly recommended item on the menu by my staff. At first, they warned me that I might find the sauce too sweet for my taste (they know that I hate sweet food unless it’s dessert), but they swore that it’s really good. Naturally, I ordered this one for myself. Well, what I can say: If you’re expecting something out of Jollibee, you’re at the wrong restaurant. THIS is burger steak. The patty is about as big as a regular hamburger patty from the friendly neighborhood burger joint, but so much thicker. However, it’s not beef; according to the Japanese cook (who’s also the owner, I think), beef would be too expensive so he uses lean pork instead. Honestly, even if I knew right away that it’s pork, I didn’t mind at all. The patty is hearty, juicy, and has very little to no fat at all. This paired with rice (I think plain rice is P10.00/order) will fill you up until dinnertime. I didn’t need to have an afternoon snack today.
I’m not sure, but I think the owner/cook saw me taking pics of the food and making spot reviews, so we were surprised when the waitress brought us two large bowls of miso soup. She said her boss is asking us to try it. This is the one that made me say that the food is authentic Japanese. All local Japanese restos that I’ve been to here in this country has always served me miso soup that is wayyyy too salty. However, I had the pleasure of sampling the real thing at a couple of Japanese households: the first was when my friend Atsushi from the bandstalker era invited us to his parents’ home. His mom served us miso soup along with a stew that has broth and we were like, “um, we already have soup (referring to the broth from the stew)” and she was like, “that’s not soup! This is soup.” Her miso soup is clear and not salty at all. The second one was at Hiroko’s house when she was still living in the Philippines. Her miso soup is the same as Atsushi’s mom’s version. This one from Tokyo Tee is along those lines, except that instead of kelp, he used half a crablet to have that seafood flavor. Maybe because crablet is cheaper than kelp.
All in all, I paid P285.00 for a meal for three persons, and we were all clutching our stomachs from eating too much. Not bad for Japanese food, right? We didn’t order drinks, though, because they serve ice-cold water, anyway. My slightly negative comment is that the service is a bit slow, but that’s because all orders are cooked on-the-spot, and the Japanese is the only one cooking. I’ll just make sure never to eat there when I’m pressed for time. I will definitely come back, and next time I will try their noodle dishes because I am enticed at the fact that the noodles are FRESHLY MADE.