Tag Archives: Japanese Cuisine

food + drinks by Alyssa Castillo

Alabang’s #SecretSecret Japanese house excites local palates

Mr. Roboto’s array of contemporary flavors puts a twist on a well-loved cuisine

When the man behind Neil’s Kitchen is your dad, you’d obviously grow up being exposed to food. That’s how it was for Daniella Ramos, a pastry graduate from Le Cordon Bleu who unexpectedly didn’t go the dessert route. After she and business partner David Mendoza went on an extensive food trip to Tokyo and Osaka, they decided to start Mr. Roboto out of her love for cooking and his appetite.roboto-5Mr. Roboto is all about modern Japanese cuisine, but without that Westerner tendency of overwhelming you with flavors. Here, they highlight the taste of the fish by using a star ingredient as well as complementing sauces for every dish on the menu. The latter is an impressive list that includes pink salmon and roasted beet sauce, tuna sesame, unagi, teriyaki, spicy mayo, herb mayo, and uni butter. If you’re a fan of that kind of variety, you’ll most likely enjoy their sashimi sample platter, with salmon that is soy sauce brushed, one that is spicy, and one with cream cheese. “We make everything from scratch,” the young chef proudly says. “We want to know exactly what we serve to you.”roboto-4Among their many rolls, the Mr. Roboto maki is the quiet hero and comes with tuna in three ways—spicy, negi, and oburi—with cucumber or radish and furatake rice. “Everyone’s doing crazy things with rolls these days. They stuff everything in,” Daniella explains. “What we do is we build them up from the base to the top. This way, you see how much you’re getting.” Meanwhile, the not-so-hush-hush components of their Secret Secret roll are unagi, pickled radish, caviar, and ebiko.roboto-2The chirashi bowls offer salmon or tuna in five different ways, one of which has soy truffle. On the side are poached, pickled, and torched prawns and Japanese ceviche made of sake, ginger, and lemon. There’s also the bestselling lamb katsu bowl where you can choose between homemade sauces of curry or gravy.roboto-1They play up their nigiris as well, with their Ika version coming in black squid ink rice with torched and pickled squid on top as well as negi, teriyaki sauce, and ebiko. Their Shake’s rice is pink from the salmon beet sauce, which is topped with the negi cream cheese and soy truffle salmon.roboto-7As the food pleases the palate, Mr. Roboto’s design concept appeals to the eyesight. The duo’s fondness for the Styx song that their restaurant is named after made them decide on the 80s retro Japanese theme, adding old anime like of Voltes V and Mazinger Z to their aesthetic. They even named some their dishes after these cartoon characters. All these to the beat of cool 80s music.roboto-3One other secret of the restaurant lies behind the open counter: an all-female sushi rolling team Daniella and David believe that a woman belongs in an authentic Japanese restaurant and that female hands aren’t too warm to preserve the quality of fish. “Having female sushi chefs is kind of our way of breaking the mold,” Daniella says, and continues that she is fueled by making people happy with her food. “I’m really blessed that I can make a business out of doing what I love.”

Photography by Renzo Navarro
Production assisted by Kris Cuaresma

MR. ROBOTO IS LOCATED AT MADRIGAL AVENUE, ALABANG, MUNTINLUPA. FOLLOW THEM ON INSTAGRAM AT @MR.ROBOTOPH AND ON FACEBOOK.COM/MR.ROBOTOPH.
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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @lysscstll.
food + drinks by Alyssa Castillo

Hamaru is a Modern-day Izakaya that’s Worth the Traffic

“We’re confident that our Tsukune might be the best one in the Philippines.”

You won’t find many Japanese restaurants to choose from along the lengthy stretch of Visayas Avenue. But behind a busy food park called The Food Hive, we found Hamaru: a modernized take on authentic izakaya of sushi rolls, yakitori, and sake. And in all its modern-day Japanese gastro pub setup, it whispers eat me a little louder than your grumbling stomach.hamaru-1Co-owner Tadeo Chua and Sous Chef Joma Sanchez tell us that a good friend, Chef Niño Laus of Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge, had influenced the steps taken in fostering their creative take on authentic Japanese cuisine. The Sous Chef shares, “As a culinarian and as a customer myself, taste matters most. From this, you can tell if what you’re getting is worth it. The dish can look really well-plated (or not) but it all boils down to the question: masarap ba? I’m proud that all our dishes are of high standard.”hamaru-2Oyster Motoyaki is Hamaru’s version of baked oysters, which are traditionally salty and loaded with heavy cheese, but instead use cauliflower puree for a healthy alternative that’s equally tasty nonetheless. The Hamaru Soft Shell Crab Roll is their take on the classic California Maki–replacing kani with soft shell crab, then topping the roll off with kani strings and aligue mayo.  hamaru-3Their Tsukune Shiso is chicken meatballs infused with different herbs and spices that give a burst of flavor once you bite into it, especially when paired with its egg yolk sauce. The team themselves believe that it might just be the best Tsukune in the country.hamaru-4The Corn Croquettes is made out of Japanese corn puree. Since it has a naturally sweet taste, it’s balanced out with umami flavors, salt, and edamame hummus. And the Butabara, an original recipe, is garlic pork belly skewer in sweet potato puree, pickled eggplant, and chili strings.

Among their array of desserts, we swear by their Tofu Cheesecake. It’s made with Yuzu cheese, which has a mild sour taste that’s complemented by the tofu – making for a light take on the sinful cheesecake.hamaru-5Behind the bar, bartender Armand Kiyoumarsi makes a special sake – a favorite for an adventurous crowd of drinkers. But if you don’t identify as one of them, his lemonade is made up of lemon juice, honey, cucumber, and butterfly pea flower tea – a tall, refreshing glass rich in antioxidants.hamaru-6Authentic Japanese izakayas are known for their eat-a-little-then-drink-a-little routine. Here, you can do that too, but we’re warning you now: Hamaru’s servings are relatively huge, but that’s only because the fullness in flavor that their dishes hold can’t simply allow for normal bite-sizes—not that we’re not complaining, though.

Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Sittings by Sam Potenciano
Photography by Renzo Navarro

FIND HAMARU IN 80 VISAYAS AVENUE, QUEZON CITY. LIKE THEM ON FACEBOOK.COM/HAMARUPH AND FOLLOW THEM ON INSTAGRAM AT @HAMARUPH.
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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @lysscstll.