Izakaya Kikufuji

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Flavors of Japan in Little Tokyo
Lately, the Bio channel has been showing this documentary titled “Destination Flavor: Japan” wherein host Adam Liaw goes all around the wonderful and mystical islands of Japan. In each episode, Adam samples different regional dishes that have tickled my senses and most definitely my stomach. Again, the urge to eat something authentically Japanese has once again led me, Tricia and her friends to the enclave of all things Japanese—Little Tokyo. In this enclave, is Izakaya Kikufuji, voted by our country’s version of Esquire Magazine and considered by Spot.ph as one of the best places to eat Japanese cuisine.

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Low tables, seated on the floor, socked/bare feet are a definite must
Arriving an hour before lunch, Izakaya wasn’t yet filled up, but because of its immense popularity (I think), our group ended up in the smoking section. This section of the restaurant was a step into the old and traditional: low tables, seated on the floor, bare/socked feet is a definite must. The setup was actually very nice and added a lot of authenticity to the experience.

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Izakaya’s appetizer selection, no refills allowed

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Appetizingly good spicy tuna
With nothing else, it was time to order, as usual I went for the hire katsu, while Tricia and her other classmates ordered: an una don, cold soba, and we all decided to add nigiri sushi. While waiting for our orders we were treated to some very rich appetizers: a soy-like soup with cucumber, tomato and cabbage; and a dish I can only describe as the toppings of our traditional pancit sans the noodles. The crowning glory of the appetizer experience was the arrival of the spicy tuna. Tuna, being the prized fish of any Japanese cuisine was served in an unassuming manner: simple and alluring. The tuna had a wonderful texture, tender, and flavorful. The spiciness did not overpower the other flavors and the crunch of the fried potatoes complemented the dish perfectly. This was one of the best appetizers I’ve had in quite some time.

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Hire katsu, don’t be deceived by that small dollop of mustard-looking wasabi, it packs a mean and spicy punch!

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Cold soba, perfect for our climate. Noodles without the complimentary sweat
In no time my hire katsu arrived along with the other orders. Izakaya’s katsu wasn’t special nor was it any better than Yabu’s or Saboten’s. Though Tricia’s friend Bach, had an appetizing una don (eel); from where I was seated, the golden brown glaze of grilled fish looked better than my hire katsu. Tricia, on the other hand, has always been interested in the concept of soba, she undoubtedly had a good introduction to the ramen alternative. Instead of the steaming bowl of ramen, soba is its cold cousin: cold brown noodles served on a plate, the needles are dipped into a cup of shoyu-type soup and slurped down without the complimentary sweat.

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A wonderful buffet of sushi
Any Japanese dining experience wouldn’t be complete without a sampling of the restaurant’s sushi. Our order of nigiri sushi was the last one to arrive. A buffet of different types of sushi laid out on a wooden platter with the quintessential pickled ginger to finish off the presentation. After watching a video on how to properly eat sushi, I applied what I had learned masterfully and with grace. Picked up with three fingers and dipped (not bathed and lathered) in soy sauce and eaten in one go, the sushi was good and the taste of the tuna really comes out, some light wasabi was tasted but it wasn’t enough to overpower the entire sushi. I was particularly interested in the uni (sea urchin) since it was a long time since I last tasted its creaminess and milkiness. When I first tasted it in Nihonbashitei, it was an acquired taste and it’s itsurance is a bit off-putting. But now I wasn’t disappointed and the uni tasted better than the one in Nihonbashitei.
Izakaya Kikufuji is located at Little Tokyo, 2277 Pasong Tamo, Makati.
Their telephone number is (02) 893 7319.
They are open everyday. 
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