Sunday Yakiniku Night at Ryuen

YAKINIKU in the broadest sense means "grilled meat" in Japanese. Today, it is more known as a style of cooking bite-sized meat and vegetables on a grid-iron over flame of wood charcoals carbonized by dry distillation. Typically in a restaurant, you are served with just raw meat and vegetables which you cook yourself to the doneness you want. When cooked, you may dip the ingredients in sauces known as tare to give it more flavor. The most common sauce is made out of soy sauce combined with mirin, sake, sugar, garlic, fruit juice and sesame. 

Yesterday, my palate craved for our usual Sunday routine in New York which was Yakiniku West so after hearing mass in Urdaneta, we headed to our favorite place here in Manila...Ryuen. It's our tried and tested yakiniku spot which we discovered through my husband's brother Joel. It's been almost 2 years since I last ate there and I have to say...it's good to be back!

Their trio of dipping sauces : sesame oil with white pepper, lemon juice and their special soy sauce creation

the condiments you can add to your dipping sauces

their house salad of shredded cabbage and sesame oil-based dressing - and what makes it more delightful is that it's FREE :)

Yukke Sashi - seasoned raw beef with raw egg (Php 280)

Tokusen Karubi - extra tender beef rib (Php 450) for the additional Php 120 this was really more tender than the regular karubi

Karubi - regular beef rib (Php 330). I was happily satisfied with the amount of fat this beef contained (your could see by the marbling on the meat) and its tenderness... although there was a slight resistance to it when you first bite a piece off. I would recommend this if you want good quality and reasonable price (in comparison with the Tokusen and Rosu)

Kimchi Tofu Nabe - spicy kimchi tofu hotpot (Php330) the spiciness of the broth was just right and undeniably soothing...it really cleared my throat! 

Rosu - beef tender meat (Php 280) - since this was the least expensive beef it goes without saying that it was the least tender of the three. We actually ordered this just to be able to compare each one. 

We savored each piece of meat we grilled and finished our bowls of sticky white Japanese rice with matching cold house tea. And just when we thought we couldn't take it anymore, we were lured into the Ministop near our place for their Php15 Hershey chocolate softserve ice cream. How could you go wrong with such a cheap treat?

This is why I love Sundays...it's family pig-out time!

Ryeun Yakiniku
Ground flr., Mile Long building
155 Amorsolo st. corner V.A. Rufino St.
Makati City, Philippines


Jozu Kin at Burgos Circle

My dad wanted to bring us somewhere new to celebrate Mother's day so he took us to Burgos Circle which is supposedly one of the newest hotspots at the Fort. We came without a reservation so we had to wait a couple of minutes outside. I was able to meet one of the owners while we were waiting and during the short chat we had, she told me that their executive chef trained in New York (because we told her we just arrived from there) and worked for Balthazar and under Mario Batalli. She also specifically advised me to try the Aspara Kani Maki so I did. I wasn't really that impressed with it though. 

Aspara Kani Maki (Php 225) 
It's a simple asparagus roll with crabstick, lemon zest and bonito flakes. Nothing stellar really plus there was too much mayonnaise that masked the sushi. On the positive side, I liked how the lemon zest stood out.

My brother and dad's staple sashimi plate - Sake Sashimi (Php 115).  I love that they served it with freshly grated wasabi and not the powder form you mix with water. It really makes a huge difference!

Uni Sashimi (Php 205) - Generous serving, very fresh and sweet

Tenderloin with Foie Gras (Php 760) 
They weren't stingy on the foie but the beef cubes were tender. It was a little overcooked though as I specifically mentioned I want it to be medium rare.

Ebi Tempura (Php 350) 
Well this is a rather straightforward dish. It was no stand-out but it satisfied my craving for fried shrimp albeit too oily! 

Our Rating: Satisfactory food (7.5 out of 10) and above average service for a reasonable price. I have to admit that Omakase still remains be my favorite neighborhood Japanese-fusion restaurant here in Manila.

Jozu Kin
Unit ES-2 Forbes Town Center
Burgos Circle, Fort Bonifacio Global City
Taguig City


Saturday Morning at Salcedo Market

I want to start my new chapter of food raves here in Manila with this entry about a family ritual we used to enjoy when my mom was still alive... Saturday Mornings at Salcedo Market! My mom was particularly an early riser. She would be up and about by 6 am or even earlier. She said that waking up early is a good habit because you really get to accomplish a lot ("the early bird gets the worm"). I even remember her saying that it should be one of the traits you should look for in a husband because it shows a lot about his character - I guess she equated it to being hardworking and determined. Phew! I'm glad Joel is a morning person! 

Last Saturday, Joel, Henri and I were up at 4 am! We were all still suffering from jetlag and so I suggested that we visit Salcedo. We also invited my brother Hip to join us because I was sure he wouldn't mind waking up for a good breakfast meal. At exactly 6:30, we were there by the entrance. Some stalls weren't even open yet! Ha! Sharing with you our morning market finds...

Joel and Hip's First Stop : Wagyu Shawarma (Php190)

Next Stop was a bag of "Pandesitos" (Php50) which are super cute bite-size pandesals for Henri

I really missed Chicken Inasal with Garlic Rice (Php175) so I couldn't resist buying it (even if it's not exactly breakfast food!)

Tinapa Rice with Chopped Tomatoes and Red Egg (Php180)

 Green Mango Popsicle (Php40)

Buko (Coconut)-Lychee Sherbet (Php50)

I love Saturday Mornings! :)

Salcedo Market
Makati City
Every Saturdays 7 am -2 pm


In New Yoooork...There's Nothing You Can't Do!

New York is a tough city. It either makes you or breaks you. I moved to this unforgiving city last February 13 (I vividly remember that day because it was a day shy of Valentines). I was anxious, single (well engaged to Joel) and ecstatic about starting a new career and a new life altogether. I can't believe it's been almost 2 years already.

Tomorrow we will be moving back to Manila and starting another chapter of our family life. Filled with much anticipation and excitement, a part of me is sad to leave. I have to admit that it was hard in the beginning but I think I adjusted pretty well to the life here. Allow me to share the highlights of my rather ephemeral stay. It's my 29 at 29 (since I turned 29 a few months ago!). 

1. Became a Chef.

2. Watched 3 absolutely amazing concerts (U2, Coldplay and Dave Matthews Band) - Woohoo!

U2 360 Tour in Jersey

Coldplay Concert in Pennsylvania

DMB Concert at the IZOD Center

3. Dined in Per Se (French Laundry) and Blue Hill Stone Barns (two of the most amazing restaurants in the city).

4. Watched a Gossip Girl live taping in Soho (saw Dan, Vanessa, Georgina and Blair)

5. Had a romantic photoshoot at Central Park (for our prenup video).

6.  Had a sexy and dramatic photoshoot with Joel when I was 34 weeks pregnant.

7. Met Jean Georges himself (one of my chef idols) when we dined in Nougatine for my birthday.

8. Visited the CIA campus for our anniversary.

9. Went on a hunt for the best Steak House (Peter Luger, Wolfgang, Morton's and Smith & Wollensky and Quality Meats)

Hip's Birthday Dinner at Wolfgang's with Wolfgang himself

10. Cooked countless homemade dinners for our family.

11. Survived without a maid...shared all the chores with my hubby.

12. Ate a 12 lb. lobster in Long Island.

13. Went skiing in Hunter Mountain.

14. Learned how to snowboard.

15. Watched the Philharmonic Orchestra of NY at Central Park when I was pregnant.

16. Worked in the Morimoto Kitchen (with Iron Chef Morimoto himself there!)

17. Had a road adventure to Atlantic City in the middle of a severe snow storm.

18. Made new friends which I know will last a lifetime (you know who you are!)

19. Went to a casting call with Joel for a Food Network Show (even if we didn't get the part!)

20. Revived my foodblog and made a new one about my baby boy - www.projecthenri.blogspot.com

21. Visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to see the cherry blossoms at peak bloom

22. Walked the Brooklyn Bridge.

23. Visited Lady Liberty (after so many years) again with a bunch of friends.

24. Saw the Tim Burton Exhibit at the MOMA for my birthday.

25. Walked almost 50 blocks (not kidding!) with my dad and my two brothers when I was 36 weeks pregnant.

26. Gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy * ... and survived without a yaya until today!

27. Breastfed...to be able to give gift of nutrition to my little one was the most wonderful thing.

28. Got married to the most amazing husband one could ever ask for. *

29. Started a wonderful family. *

Thank you New York for allowing me to accomplish so much (especially for the three statements with asterisks).

Goodbye...for now.

Sushi Yasuda : A Haven for Sushi Purists... Food Porn Indeed!

I've said this many times over but I really adore Anthony Bourdain. I'm a fan of his show and his writings. His book Kitchen Confidential solidified my choice of pursuing a culinary career and becoming a chef de cuisine. So I have a lot of gratitude towards this amazing chef/food writer/show host. I recently chanced upon a segment of his show called "Food Porn (Pornography)" where he features food that is said to be 'more than delicious'... its pure goodness makes you want to scream. It ranges from something very upscale such as caviar, uni topped with lard (yup! cured pork fat with sea urchin!) down to the simple guilty pleasure of eating street food (halal chicken rice on 53rd st). Since I am huge Japanese fanatic (one of the first ever blog entries I wrote was about Sushi and it's not surprising that I opted to work in the Morimoto Kitchen after graduating culinary school instead of somewhere French!), the thing that caught my attention the most was the feature on Sushi Yasuda in Midtown Manhattan. I watched Anthony savor each and every piece of sushi with so much passion and gusto. - Here's the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1t-XVVhm-6o&feature=player_embedded (start at 2:09).

"I HAVE to eat there" I told myself. Last Thursday, I ticked it off my bucket list.

I have three letters for you...OMG

Let me share with you why...

We had dinner reservations at 9:30 because that was the only slot left when I called. Like a child waiting for Christmas eve, I was really excited about this dinner. So I made sure we were there really early because the Japanese guy specifically said that they only hold reservations for 10 minutes. I didn't want to lose our slot. We were actually way too early, we were there 30 minutes before. But it turned out to be a good thing because I found out that we were going to be seated in a regular table when I wanted to have the Omakase at the bar. I thought I made it clear when I called that I wanted to be seated at the sushi bar! The manager said that the bar is already booked for the night and the next 3 nights as well! I was so disappointed. I told Joel, my husband, that we should just forget it if we don't get seats at the bar. That was a crucial factor to me. Not wanting to give up that easily, we used our charm and negotiating power to convince the host to consider us should there be a cancellation. I gave him the whole drama that we were going back to the Philippines in a few days and I really want to be able to eat there! He said that it would be a long shot but it wouldn't hurt to try. Anyway, the long of the short is that we got our wish! Although we didn't get the coveted corner seat where Yasuda is stationed, we still got prime seats by the bar with his sushi chefs serving us personally. I was ecstatic! 


Yasuda believes that the most complex part of making sushi is the rice. He believes that sushi is first about the rice then about the fish. This is Yasuda's specialty because he's been cooking sushi rice for 38 years (he mentioned this in Anthony Bourdain's interview with him that he does not delegate this task). He uses domestically grown mix of short and medium grain rice, the perfect amount of rice vinegar, japanese sea salt and a pinch of sugar. The cooking time and temperature have to be exact...like a science in itself. 


The coveted corner where Yasuda himself stands as your sushi chef and creates his masterpieces in front of you. Next time, I will specifically request to be seated at this corner!

We were given a warm oshiburi (hand cloth) to begin the meal. This way, we can use our hands when eating.

Appetizer - Pickled Salmon Skin

The chef asked us what fish we wanted to start our meal with and I chose Kanpachi - Hawaiian Yellowtail ($5.00)  which was glazed in shoyu. The chef said there was no need to dip it anymore. It tasted very "clean", no fishiness whatsoever, and was drizzled with a little lemon and salt!

Joel and I both nibbled a piece of pickled ginger to reset our palates. A dynamic combination came next: Toro ($8) - perfectly-marbled, fatty and just melts into your mouth like butter and Uni ($5) - I always order uni sashimi whenever I eat Japanese but this was incredibly creamy, sweet and a little bit briny. Both were shoyu-glazed so we ate it straight up. The uni was nothing short of orgasmic! Yes! you heard it right! 

2 kinds of Mackarel - Jack Mackarel ($5) and Gensaba ($5)

Anago -fresh dark water eel ($5.50) - This almost made Joel cry when he ate it! He said that it's one of the best things he's ever eaten in his whole life!  Shirayaki- fresh white water eel ($5.50)

Peace Passage Oyster ($4.00)

Orange Clam ($3.75)

Toro Maki with scallion ($9 - 6 pcs.) and Sardine ($4.50)

After this point, Joel and I were both getting full already. We agreed that we should pick 2 of our favorites among the ones we had and have it for the second time so we would end with a bang! He chose the Anago and I opted for the Toro. We cheers our green teas before having the last bite.  Carefully we placed the tiny pieces of heaven in our mouths, closed our eyes and savored the freshness and perfection. It was explosive! 

Sushi Yasuda
204 East 43rd Street
New York, New York 10017-4713
(212) 972-1001