October 14, 2018

Asakusa: Home of Tempura Now Open at Ayala Malls Feliz

Ahhh... Japan… a country that always fascinated me in so many ways. And when I mean fascinated, I mean it both in a good and a bad way. But don’t worry, the good bears more than the bad. Well, ok, let me tell you about the why first. The first time I came across “Japan” is when I opened a WWII history book from my grandparents’ library containing photos and stories about the atrocities that happened during World War II especially at the Pacific Theater of Operations.

But as I grew up and started to love reading, I slowly got to know more about this country that initially scared me. Turns out, their culture is something so unique that you really have to delve into it before you make any judgements. There was a time that I got obsessed with Japan that I even fantasized that I wish I was born Japanese and in the era where the Tales of Genji was set. Back in college, I read quite extensively about Japan, its literature, its culture, its tradition and its food.

I haven’t been to Japan, but it’s definitely in my bucket list. I always daydream about me participating in a tea ceremony, experience the ritual of wearing and/or dressing up as a Geisha (as I’m very fond of this component of the Japanese culture) and to eat my way out through the streets of Japan. 

Speaking of Japanese food, by now if you’re a regular reader or visitor of my blog, you know that it is one of my favorite cuisines in the world. I’m amazed myself that most of the restaurants I go to or get invited to are Japanese (authentic or not) restaurants. A few weeks back, I found myself again in a Japanese Restaurant. I attended the opening of Asakusa at their third branch at Ayala Malls Feliz. It was built from the owners’ love of Japanese food and Japan. They learned the art of making the perfect tempura from Asakusa, a district in Tokyo.

So how did this restaurant came about? Once, there was a Filipino-born student who visited Japan. He loved it so much that he decided to study in a University in Tokyo. During one break time from University, he decided to go to Asakusa, where he heard served the best tempura, which happened to be his favorite Japanese dish. He roamed around the streets only to find the price too steep for a university student. Almost dejected, he turned the next corner ready to go home, until he found what he didn't imagine would change his life.

Situated in a humble street corner, he found a quaint a little house which displayed a simple "Tempura" sign in front. Curious about the simplicity of the house, he decided to enter. There was not much going on inside. There was just an old woman, attending to several tables of quiet customers. And then there was just an old man, busy working in the kitchen. It was simple but efficient. Upon seeing the prices to be quite reasonable even for a student, he decided to order their special; the Tendon.

What happened next was the experience that changed him forever. His first bite was every bit of perfection he has never experienced in the Philippines nor in Japan. The batter was light but very crispy. And the sauce, was the perfect blend of sweet, salty and seafood aroma. One bite, and he was hooked. He frequented the restaurant and became good friends with the owners. But just like all good things, this one too had to end. Before he knew it he was graduating from the university. He was sad he won't be able to eat his favorite tendon tempura meals anymore. Afraid that would happen, he immediately talked to the Japanese couple and offered to help them bring their restaurant into the Philippines.

The Foodie Couple. Realizing it was a daunting task to bring the restaurant to the Philippines alone, the newly graduated student sought for help. Immediately, he turned his attention to his friend, whose family owned a various restaurant in the Philippines. Their vast knowledge and experience will definitely come in handy. Upon trying the product themselves, this couple, without batting an eyelash decided and agreed that same day that they will help him bring the best tempura they have ever tried to the Philippines. This is the simple and humble story of Asakusa: House of Tempura. 

Asakusa’s menu is small but for me this is great as customers won’t get overwhelmed and the quality and focus on their best dishes will always be upheld. Below are the dishes that we got to try:

Tofu Steak - I love tofu! I mean I can eat it every way it is being cooked. But I love Japanese tofu above all other tofu because just like any other food in Japan it is an art as well. Also it is silkier and finer than others. This tofu steak came with a super thick sauce with minced pork and the tofu was breaded with tempura breading giving it some texture. I just love this tofu steak, it was so yummy and fun to eat. I’ll never get tired of Japanese tofu ever!

Tuna Salad - this dish reminds me of a poke bowl. The flavor is great and this had a lot of texture in here. This can be ordered spicy and regular. Another must try when at Asakusa.

Gyoza - one plate contains 6 pcs. of minced pork dumplings that are seared. It’s actually good but the only thing that I noticed that they weren’t uniform in size or appearance. Either way, they are still nice little pillows of goodness.

California Maki - one order contains 8 pieces. There’s nothing special with these makis but I won’t say no to them either. Japanese rolls will always have a space in my heart and my tummy hehe.

Gyudon - consisting of a bowl of rice topped with beef and onion simmered in a mildly sweet sauce flavored with dashi, soy sauce and mirin. Another Japanese dish that I love. This gyudon comes with an egg on top which you can choose how cooked you want it to be. I love the sweet soy sauce that it is flavored with. Also Asakusa uses real Japanese rice so it’s very filling.

Salmon Teriyaki Don - ahhh… salmon… a few of the things that I love in this world. If I could eat only one thing in the world for the rest of my life, I’d choose salmon. The tasty teriyaki sauce goes perfectly with the rice and covers the fishy smell of the salmon. The salmon portion is also large enough to fill you up. It also got some buttery notes to it that I loved. This is a winner and a must order.

Saikoro Steak - this tender diced beef steak uses Australian beef cooked in garlic infused oil and with ponzu soy sauce. The meet was succulent and was a joy to eat. The stir fried vegetables that it came with was flavorful as well.

Emperor Set 2 - one of the best-selling tempura sets offered by Asakusa which contains 2 black tiger prawns, scallop, shiitake mushroom, kani, fish, zucchini and French beans. This goes well with Asakusa’s flavored rice. I like that Asakusa uses quality ingredients including black tiger prawns instead of small ordinary shrimps. The tempura batter/coating wasn't that oily and it was also light and crispy. I loved this!

Cold Soba - soba is the Japanese name for buckwheat. It usually refers to thin noodles made from buckwheat flour, or a combination of buckwheat and wheat flours. Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup. I actually wasn’t able to try this as this was another blogger friend’s order. I’m not really a fan of cold noodles but I’ll probably try it next time.

Uni Tempura - I love sea urchin! Well I mean their roe. I remember when I went to Bohol, there was a seller offering them for 20 pesos a piece, fresh from the sea and you'll just drop some vinegar on them and eat them straight up. Man those were super good and I ended up paying 200 pesos at the end of it. Since then I always love eating them whenever I get the chance to. These uni tempura from Asakusa are done so right, they are out of this world yummy! With a hot crispy exterior made of nori wrapper with tempura batter were crispy as hell. And has a warm creamy interior thanks to the uni. Gosh I can finish two batches of these myself! A must order!

Salmon Sashimi  - eating raw fish is something some people might find a little bit irky. But when the fish is fresh it is the most heavenly thing on earth. I love salmon sashimi to bits. These were fresh and had that creamy and milky texture to them. So good!

Coffee Jelly - made with coffee jello squares with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A perfect way to end a sumptuous meal.

Valrhona Chocolate Brownies with Green Tea Ice Cream - I'm someone who is just ok when it comes to matcha but these brownie cubes made of Valrhona chocolate are oh so yummy you wouldn't mind it being combined with matcha. The matcha flavor of the ice cream was a bit intense for my liking. But if you are a fan of matcha you should try this one.

I enjoyed majority of the dishes that Asakusa made us try. Some were hits some were misses but the good thing that the tempura that they carry are so good. They are not oily and the batter was crispy and light. Plus that they only use the quality and freshest ingredients. Truly a plus point. Would I go back? For sure! Especially that I loved their Salmon Teriyaki Don, tempura sets and the uni tempura and because they have two branches that are just a stone’s throw away from where I live.

3F, Ayala Malls Feliz, Dela Paz, Pasig City
Contact Nos: 02 7441228 / 02 9410157
Email: info@asakusa.com.ph

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Asakusa: Home of Tempura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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