Before only travelers to Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore can eat authentic specialties from around the world. Now more and more foreign food outlets are setting up branches in Manila. I can’t help but think we’re really on our way to having a tiger economy. Go Philippines!
The latest import to the country is Ginza Bairin, the first tonkatsu specialty restaurant to open in Ginza in 1927.
Pardon the yellow pictures. My camera was in the wrong setting and I didn’t check my pictures. Grrr…
We went there last Friday when traffic was it’s worst. It took me and a couple of my friends 2.5 hours to reach Glorietta 2 from Greenhills. Another hour or two we could have been in Tokyo!
Tonkatsu restaurants in Japan DON’T serve gyoza. But since Filipinos love gyoza the local franchisee came up with their own gyoza which the Japanese partners approved.
The gyoza was quite pleasing with it’s thin skin and juicy pork filling.
There were two kinds of dressing for the unlimited shredded cabbage – wasabi soy sauce and sesame dressing. Both are good on it’s own but I like mixing both. Asides from their own signature tonkatsu sauce they also had himalayan pink salt.
Hire is pork tenderloin and the leanest cut of meat. Each set comes with miso soup, unlimited Japanese Koshihikari rice and shredded cabbage, Japanese pickles and seasonal fruits.
You can order 3 or 4 pieces for your katsu set. According to my friend Pat she couldn’t finish 4 pieces since it was too filling.
The most expensive option is the Kurobota Rosu from the Berkshire black pig which was juicier and had more flavor from the marbling of fat.
I tried a piece of this and found the breading to be light and crisp. It was tons better than the one I had at Ginza Bairin in Hong Kong which had strong oily taste that was almost rancid. They only use imported cottonseed oil to fry their food and you can taste the difference.
Debbie was the only one who ordered fish and she proclaimed her salmon to be perfectly cooked.
It took the kitchen staff a lot of trial and error to perfect the frying time of their fish dishes. Next time I want to try their fried parrotfish (mameng) and unagi (eel) which I’ve never seen in other katsu restaurants.
The curry sauce comes in mild or spicy variants. I was able to try the spicy and all I can say is you WILL eat a lot of rice. The curry sauce was thick and very rich.
I ordered the special katsudon for the simple reason that it has sauce on the rice. I have this weird quirk that I can’t eat white rice with fried food or without sauce. Since I was so hungry this was the only dish asides from the curry that I can eat rice and be full fast.
Let me say the egg was fantastic! The first picture I took (left) showed the egg yolk not breaking. I poked it with my finger and later on with chopsticks and it still didn’t break. I had to poke it hard for the membrane to break and let the golden yellow yolk flow into my rice. I also dipped the sweetish tender hire pork into the yolk and tonkatsu sauce. I couldn’t finish the rice nor the pork. It was a big serving despite how it looks in the picture.
Ginza Bairin’s katsudon was rated the no. 1 donburi by Japanese tv shows “Tokyo Restaurant Guide” and “VivaVivaV6” and by Iron Chefs Robusaburo Michibo and Yoshiharu Doi.
This was my cabbage salad with two dressings mixed together.
We all had coffee jelly but I requested sesame ice cream instead of vanilla ice cream. The coffee jelly was a bit too soft but the coffee was strong and unsweetened just the way good coffee jelly should be. The sesame ice cream was creamy and had a balanced sesame flavor.
I loved their strong flavored matcha (green tea) ice cream. No wimpy flavor here! I just wish the green tea ice cream was as creamy as the sesame ice cream.
I found the prices very reasonable considering most of the sets cost less than P500 and you can have unlimited delicious Japanese rice. That’s a great deal considering the Japanese restaurant in Solaire sells a bowl of Japanese white rice for P450.
Welcome to the Philippines Ginza Bairin! Keep up with the excellent quality and service and you will have a long life in the country.
Ground Floor Glorietta 2 (along Palm Drive), Ayala Center, Makati City
telephone: (02) 553 7350