Nihonbashitei

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Award-winning and moving documentary on the art of sushi. A must-watch.

Back in 2012 I watched the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” a moving and artistic documentary about Jiro, the world’s best and might still be the only Michelin star sushi chef. The documentary explored the artistic subtleties in creating one of the world’s most famous dishes, in such a delicate, intricate and passionate manner. The reason why his sushi is considered the best is because of the years of dedication Jiro has committed himself to, in order, to make one of the most expensive and sought after meals in the whole world. Believe it or not, his restaurant is small and quaint but boasts a two month reservation (maybe even more ever since the documentary became mainstream), and a meal can cost upwards of USD200. Jiro explains the wonders and the hardships one has to go through in learning a craft that, of late, is slowly going the way of the dinosaurs thanks to mass production and the almost-generic taste of the sushi we eat.

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Beautifully sculpted by the hands of a master
As of late, my interest in Japanese cuisine has been on overdrive, call it cravings if you wish and just thinking about Jiro and his mouthwatering sushi was more than enough to make me crave for the meal itself. Today being Good Friday, complete with the abstinence and fasting, it was the perfect time to really crave for sushi. In order to satisfy my craving I had to look for the perfect place to get sushi, I couldn’t fly off to Japan and go to Jiro’s restaurant and pay upwards of USD200 (I didn’t have that kind of money), so I settled for the next best thing. On this somewhat cool summer day, my brothers and I, drove off to Amorsolo corner Arnaiz (or is it the other way around?) in Makati and had a generous early dinner at Nihonbashitei; a restaurant that serves very good and delicious sushi.

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The last sushi standing

I have been to Nihonbashitei before and I have always and still do enjoy their delicious meals. My first outing was to sample their sushi, which according to my older siblings, has always been the main attraction of the restaurant. On my second outing, I had their katsu and the all to traditional California maki. But the main draw is really their sushi and on Good Friday, it was really the perfect opportunity to indulge in the treasures of the ocean. Since my family was observing the whole fasting and abstinence thing, I had nothing inside my stomach except for a few morsels of shrimp, bread and water. I had skipped two meals to have the appetite for this.

Just looking at the almost 10 pages of Nihonbashitei’s menu was enough for the non-sushi eater to be put off. Thankfully, my brother Lio, who learned and traveled to Japan was familiar with the different kinds of sushi deftly made his way ordering a little bit of nearly everything. On the other hand, my brother Liro, ordered his favorite, spicy toro maki; as for me, I just watched in awe with the coming and going of the sushi chef and his staff.

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Spicy toro maki with its array of colors
Being seated in the bar area certainly had its perks. For one I could practically see the head chef dipping his hands in water then scooping some rice, a pinch of wasabi on the interior, then shaping and molding the different ingredients of the meal. Sea urchins, prawns, shrimp, egg, squid and a whole lot of other things were masterfully done with just a few movements of his fingers and his palm.

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Shrimp, squid, egg, tuna and another kind of fish. The sushi party is all here
Our dishes came along nicely, with my brother Lio pointing out the finer details of dining with something akin to a painting: do not place the wasabi on the soy sauce but rather get a pinch using your chopsticks and spread it on top of the sushi itself, lightly dip and never drown your sushi in the soy sauce (these aren’t Chinese dumplings you know); and yes, chopsticks are optional, one may use their fingers to grab the sushi. Thanks to his understanding and experience of having eaten in an authentic Japanese restaurant, the meal was more meaningful because of these nuances.

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Cold soba noodles, check out the ice
While eating the colorful array of sushi spread out before our very eyes, enjoying every different texture and flavor of the ocean, I really couldn’t help but admire the beauty of what I was eating. Even though our chef was Filipino and not an authentic Japanese one, I still appreciated the level of skill and expertise in preparing our meal. After having thoroughly enjoyed our five different types of sushi, my brother ordered cold soba. Cold soba are your typical Japanese noodles, much like ramen, except that these are served cold. Without the intense heat emanating from a ramen bowl, cold soba noodles are dipped in a small bowl of soup with seaweed, quail egg, onions and the all to famous wasabi. An alternatively delicious meal if you don’t want the accompanying sweat of ramen.

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The ingredients of your cold soba
For many years, people have come to Nihonbashitei for their sushi and it’s a given why they do. It is delicious and, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can go beyond the American invention of California maki and try something new and alternative. There are really a lot of choices to choose from and because there is an ala carte menu, the possibilities of finding a favorite are endless. The prices may vary from dish to dish, but nevertheless everything is all fine. Besides a little experimentation wouldn’t hurt every now and then, especially if your sushi eating experience have been limited to the following: the typical bilao of sushi in your office party or the disgusting maki served in Tokyo Tokyo.
Nihonbashitei is located at 806 Arnaiz Avenue (just before the entrance of the Skyway) . Pasay Road, Makati. 
You may call them at 818-8893.
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