July 7, 2014

Suzuki Carinderia: Cheap and Authentic Japanese Food in the Heart of Tondo

I have always been fond of anything Japanese. from their culture, to their literature, to their fashion and most especially their cuisine. I can still vividly remember my parents bringing us almost every Saturday at the original Tokyo Tokyo branch in Greenbelt when it was still a middle-end restaurant back when my sister and I were still in elementary. And most kids my age won't usually love eating Japanese food and raw food like sushi, I on the other hand have greatly enjoyed eating sushi and maki at a young age. And as I grew older, Japanese food is still one of my favorite international cuisine to eat.

Most Japanese restaurants in Manila, well to be honest, is quite expensive and it is really hard to find those authentic-tasting ones and those that are cooked and prepared by a Japanese who really knows by heart what true Japanese food should taste. So when I stumbled upon, Suzuki Japanese Carinderia on Facebook, I really got super intrigued and researched about it. I found several blogs that had written about this place and I promised myself that I would go and try what they're offering and if it really lives up to the buzz it has been creating.

I them that we should go and try it. Although, the neighborhood where Suzuki Japanese Carinderia has an unpopular stigma, I was surprised that more than being skeptic to go, they were all excited about it. 

Suzuki Japanese Carinderia is a neighborhood eatery in the heart of Tondo, Manila who serves authentic tasting Japanese food and owned by a retired Japanese cook Mr. Tosh and his Filipina wife Ms. Edith (A little trivia, they are the parents of Survivor Philippines Palau ex-participant Suzuki). Their humble business became famous after it was featured in several a local TV shows. Since then, they have grown from a 3-wooden table eatery to a more presentable, well-lit, bigger and loved neighborhood food stop. The original carinderia was in Hermosa St. in Tondo, Manila; but since they cannot accommodate the large crowd flocking to their place curious to try their menu offerings and to avoid the long wait, they ventured out and moved to a larger space in Del Fiero St. in Gagalangin, Tondo, Manila. 

Tondo is a very notorious place and has a bad connotation for most Filipinos, and many are afraid to even try setting foot in this area of Metro Manila. But honestly speaking, it is not; just like any situation or any place that has fear attached to its name, you just always have to be aware of your surroundings and always act properly and aware, for sure you will be out of harm's way. 

From my research, Suzuki Japanese Carinderia usually opens at 5:00pm and closes at 10:00pm, and since we want to be there early to avoid waiting long to get a table and eat, I told my sister Hazel, my brother Aaron and his girlfriend Princess that we will  pick them up around 3:00pm so we could be at the eatery by 4:00pm. It was Sunday afternoon so there was not much traffic in Manila and we got there just a few minutes before 4:00pm and we were surprised that it is already open and few tables are already occupied. We didn't waste any time, sat on a table and ordered several items from their menu.

Food are prepared and cooked after you order, this makes sure that you get to eat something that's made with fresh ingredients. The place is also clean so issues of sanitary aspects, like in most cases of other neighborhood eateries, won't be a problem. We would love to try almost every entry from their menu (which hang in one part of the carinderia) but we we all have our own Japanese food favorites so we ended up ordering several orders of the same dishes; in this way we will all go home satisfied because we were able to eat our favorites to our heart's content.

always jolly Mr. Tosh making maki's and another Japanese guy cooking

These are what we ordered:

Seafood Yakisoba - We ordered two servings of this my sister Hazel, my brother Aaron loved this! I tasted this and agreed indeed that it was good. Although I was too excited for my Katsudon that I didn't took another bite.

Katsudon - We had 2 orders of this, and I must say that it is great; it tasted like all those that I've tried before from other locally famous Japanese restaurants. Although they didn't use Japanese  rice with this, I was super enjoying it that I didn't mind at all.

Mixed Tempura- My sister ordered this for herself but we couldn't resist so we all dug in. Still, it tasted comparable to all those tempuras you would get to eat in any Japanese resto. Love the eggplant! We liked that it wasn't too oily and that the batter used to coat the veggies and the shrimps really tasted authentic.

Beef Ramen - We got 2 servings of this, one for my brother Aaron and one for his girlfriend Princess. They were generous enough to share it with us and we all gave a thumbs up for this ramen. Nothing fancy just plainly good ramen. My brother who is a picky eater, totally dig this. The soup was really tasty and there was a generous amount of beef and veggies in it.

Sukiyaki - We all haven't tried eating sukiyaki before, we got curious and ordered one serving so that we can finally get to try it. Like all of the other items that we ordered we liked this one too! But we all agreed that we loved the tofu that was an ingredient of the Sukiyaki. It was super yummy and it tasted like "taho" (soya bean curd).

Hile Katsu - my sister Hazel got curious about this item so we ordered 1 serving. This katsu is just like tonkatsu but pork loin was used for it. My brother's girlfriend, Princess, thought all the while that it was chicken because it was soft and tender.

Gyoza - Ok, don't judge us, but we ordered 4 servings of the gyoza! Lol! They were supposed to be appetizers, but when we arrived at Suzuki, they were just preparing the filling for the gyoza. They served the gyozas to us only after we have finished everything that we ordered. But no, we didn't complain, how can we? When these tiny pockets of heaven were so awesome!

By the way, if you're on a diet, just like my sister Hazel, who is always on a diet (but ordered 4 dishes all for herself hahahaha!), you can opt to remove the rice from any meal that comes with it, a Php 5 will be deducted from its price.  Also, I forgot to ask if their Hermosa St. branch is still existing. 

After being overwhelmed with all that food that were upon us,  the verdict? They were all good! Seriously! The taste of the items that we've tried at Suzuki Japanese Carinderia have little or no difference from the ones that we've tried from other Japanese restaurants both fast food, middle-end and high-end ones.

Also, we didn't encounter any untoward person or situation at all and we parked our car on the street just in front of the carinderia. For 13 plates of dishes and a 1.5 liter of Coke for 5 people with big appetites, we only paid a little over Php 1,000; which will never be the case if we ate in Japanese restaurant elsewhere. Super cheap right?

The staff of Suzuki Japanese Carinderia was also very helpful and attentive. We even get to talk with the owner, Ms. Edith and even had our photo taken with Mr. Tosh! Just before the sun set, we left Suzuki with smiles in our faces,  thoughts of when will go back, overloaded stomachs and ideas of how can we lose all those calories we have consumed.

Here's the map of Suzuki Japanese Carinderia:

Watch the video feature of Suzuki Carinderia from GMA's Front Row here:

Suzuki Japanese Carinderia
549 Vicente Del Fierro St, Gagalangin Tondo, Manila
Store Hours: 4:00pm-11:00pm
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Suzuki-Hapon-Carinderia/242211539197412

For more information and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile:

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  1. AnonymousJuly 09, 2014

    Japanese is and will always remain one of my favorite cuisine options. We went on such a Japanese tour in a two year span, I completely turned Kristina off to Japanese food. LoL. She, as of late, is back to the cuisine, but that's because we don't frequent any Japanese establishments as once before. As for this location, It doesn't seem it has sushi items on the menu. Unless I am incorrect of course. I like the theme of this blog. Great job love...great job.

    1. Thanks for the comment my friend :) they only serve maki, and not much on the sushis probably because the target market around the area aren't that open to eating raw stuff and it is hard to keep them pristinely fresh... but this one's really unique especially in that neighborhood, you only get to see japanese restos in malls and high-end areas... let's have a Japanese food trip and eat all the sushi, maki and sashimi that we can when you and kristina come home for a vacation. Love reading your and kristina's blogs :)

  2. Wahhh how I wish I live somewhere near this place. Boyfriend and I love Japanese food! He will like it here for sure plus super affordable ng food nila :)

    1. thanks for the comment genzel! :) the place looks safe naman... just bring more friends and someone who's quite familiar with the area... food there is great! cheap pa! :)

  3. Love this article. Nicely written. It makes me crave for Toshi-san's food more!!!

  4. Love this article. Nicely written. It makes me crave for Toshi-san's food more!!!

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  6. I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much Sushi la jolla


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