Monday, November 30, 2015


Location: Malika

Rating: Not great
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 1250 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes:Butter chicken kid's meal, nasi goreng
English Menu:Yes
Smoking: No

My son and I were experimenting with using the bus to get to his friend's house the other day and afterwards found ourselves in Oppama for lunch.  Oppama is a station on the way up from Yokosuka towards Yokohama, but you must be riding on the Red Express or Black Local lines to stop there.  The Green Express doesn't stop there.  Anyway, we wandered a short distance from the station and I spotted the Indian flag in the distance, so that settled it for lunch!  Malika must be a newer restaurant as Google Maps still has an different restaurant listed at that location and visible in Street View.

Kid's butter chicken set with naan

I was hoping maybe this restaurant had escaped the stamp of sameness that pervades all the Indian restaurants in Yokosuka (i.e. Nepalese staff, very simple flavors, sweet naan), but unfortunately that wasn't the case.  My son at his chicken but disliked the texture of the his butter chicken.  I had the "nasi goreng" for something different (nasi goreng is an Indonesian rice dish).  They also had "indian chahan" (aka fried rice) on the menu, to which my son said that Indian chahan would just be biryani wouldn't it?  I don't know, but I didn't try it to find out.  I was sold by the fried egg on top.

Nasi goreng

I liked my nasi goreng, but it wasn't incredible.  It did have some chunks of shrimp in it that I didn't expect.  I had a cold and wasn't tasting very well at the time, so I dumped more spicy sauce on and enjoyed the fire.  I tasted my son's naan and it was still sweet, blech.  I asked where the proprietor was from and sure enough...Nepal.  But he said he wasn't affiliated with any of the 3 main franchises in Yokosuka, so I guess he's going out on his own.  A pity he couldn't make better tasting food.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Location: Denny's

Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 3
Price: 3900 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Linguini 4 cheese carbonara, porcini hamburg, stewed meat
English Menu: No

We were far afield today, looking for a quick lunch spot with parking, so we headed for Denny's when we saw the familiar sign.  Among "family" style restaurants here in Japan, Denny's is our favorite, thus the Very Good rating despite the food itself being not the best, it's the best in it's category.  Plus they usually have parking.  We actually ate elsewhere than is indicated on the map, but I figured I may as well use Yokosuka's branch as anywhere else, since it's local.

Pass on the caesar salad...

Many people are disappointed by Denny's if they come from the US.  The food selections are definitely not the same.  But I didn't grow up with Denny's so it doesn't bother me.  You can usually find something worth eating on the menu, and the surprising thing is that it usually tastes pretty good!

4 cheese carbonara

My son of course went for the 4 cheese carbonara, my wife got a porcini mushroom hamburg dish, and I had the stewed beef chunks.  We also got something we thought would be vegetables with cheese on top, because we didn't bother to read the katakana name.  It was actually a caesar salad, and not a particularly good one, so pass on that.  But the rest of the dishes were remarkably tasty.

Porcini hamburg

Stewed beef chunks

Tsuru Ton Tan

Location: Tsuru Ton Tan

Rating: Very good
Meal: Lunch for 3
Price: 5380 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Special Udon, Creamy Seafood Udon, sukiyaki don, salmon roll, yakiniku roll
English Menu: Yes

For our first meal back from the Philippines, we ate again at Haneda Airport.  It was a little past lunch time, so we thought we might have a chance at getting into the restaurant that usually has the longest line, Tsuru Ton Tan.  We weren't even sure what kind of food they had there, but it was probably good given the line.

"special" udon with tempura

Turns out it's a mainly Udon noodle restaurant, with some side dishes.  There were tons of options on the huge, well laid out menu.  We liked the look of the restaurant "special" udon with the normal broth, but wanted to try a creamy udon as well, so I got the mixed seafood and chicken.  My son didn't like the look of anything so he opted for a sukiyaki don.  We also wanted to sample the sushi rolls, so we got 2 small orders (3 pieces) of a salmon roll and a yakiniku roll.

Creamy udon broth

We have a complicated relationship with udon.  We used to think we loved it, as our first experience was of having it in the US at a Vietnamese restaurant.  When we got to Japan, we found ourselves liking udon less and less, as it just seemed more difficult to eat with less payoff than, say, soba noodles.  It's also a really "cheap" Japanese food, so you usually find it in cheap restaurants with rather nasty old tempura and a very plain broth.  Not much to recommend it.

Sushi rolls

But this place has shown us a glimpse of how excellent real udon can be.  The "special" dish's broth was sooooo delicious, slightly sweet.  And the creamy dish was great too, if a little heavier.  The noodles themselves were really good too.  Both of us were stuffed by the end and couldn't finish it all.  The bowls at this restaurant are enormous, and when you order, they ask if you want 1, 2 or 3 orders of noodles.  When you see the bowls, you'll see why, as they are in a flare shape and get very wide at the top, allowing for a ton of volume if you wanted to add more noodles.  We went with just 1 and it was plenty.

Sukiyaki don

My son's sukiyaki don was really tasty too, though he didn't care for the extra bits of tasty gobo root.  It had that sweet sukiyaki taste and came with a soft egg on top.  My wife preferred the salmon roll (it was smoked salmon) while I liked the yakiniku roll better.

Overall, it was a great reinvigoration of the idea that udon doesn't have to be cheap, nasty and unpleasant.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Location: Gino's

Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Lunch for 5 or 6
Price:  ?? pesos
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Sausage pizza, pesto mushroom pizza, mozzerella pesto with cherry tomatoes, salted egg linguine, bolognese
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Gino's is an amazing Italian spot near where my dad lives in Makati.  For our last dinner in the Philippines, my dad really wanted us to eat there.  We were a bit skeptical considering the sad excuses for Italian food (with a few exceptions) in Japan.  But we figured it wouldn't hurt anything.  Wow, are we ever glad we went!  This place blew every Italian place we've ever eaten at before out of the water.  The pizza crusts were so good, I was actually eating the crust first instead of discarding useless hunks of bread like I usually do.  It reminded me of good chewy homemade bread.  There was a very interesting salted egg linguine too.  Salted eggs are a filipino specialty and usually are identified by dark purple died egg shells.  They are, of course, quite salty and the yolk turns a bit grainy in the process.  They never have appealed to me much, but this was a very interesting tasting dish that benefited from the peculiar flavor.   Another dish we loved was a pocket of mozzerella (real and very soft) stuffed with pesto and surrounded by little cherry tomatoes (a bit tart) covered in olive oil and basil leaves.  This variation on caprese was so incredibly delicious, we ordered another one.  After the first sausage pizza (the sausage was incredible), we also ordered a pesto and mushroom pizza with walnuts and kesong puti (water buffalo cheese).  The cheese was a little disappointing in that it didn't have that salty tang I recall from previous experience with kesong puti, but the overall package was great.  I didn't taste the bolognese personally, but I'm told it was also great. 

Salted duck, mozzerella, sausage pizza, that was a wonderful end to our trip to the Philippines!  We will miss the great food here so much and look forward to our next visit.

Pesto mushroom pizza


New Bombay

Location: New Bombay

Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Lunch for 3
Price:  2450 pesos
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Sweet/salty/pandan buko lassi, mutton biryani, butter chicken curry, tandoor chicken tikka, lots of different kinds of bread
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

New Bombay is another in a series of restaurants near my dad's apartment in Makati.  He told us it was quite good, so we decided to try it for lunch one day. was fabulous!  They had at least 5 different types of bread on the menu and so much good stuff we wished we could have tried.  But we limited ourselves to a tandoor chicken tikka, mutton biryani and butter chicken (for my son).  Everything had excellent, complex Indian flavors and you could see the whole spices used in making it throughout.  The one slight disappointment was the salty lassi, which was tooooo salty.  We did try a new flavor of lassi though that was excellent, pandan buko (the green drink).  It wasn't very sweet at all but had the luscious pandan flavor floating out of the drink powerfully.  This place rivals the best Indian we've ever had anywhere in the world.

Andok's Chicken

Location: Andok's Chicken

Rating: Excellent
Meal: Lunch for 5 (and more)
Price: 940 pesos
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: 3 whole chickens, 1 liempo
English Menu: Yes

Andok's chicken is one of several roast chicken and pork chains in the Philippines.  It's my favorite, probably due to childhood memories, but I'm not the only one who thinks so.  It was one of my son's requests during this trip that would eat some Andok's chicken at some point, and we finally got around to it the other day as we were driving home in traffic from my old school (Faith Academy).  We have been known to eat an entire chicken in the car (not the easiest of feats), but today we didn't feel up to it, so we took our haul home (another hour or so in traffic).  I bought 3 whole chickens and 1 liemp (roasted pork of some kind).  We started getting faint from hunger in the car, so we all partook of the liempo as it was  easiest to eat with fingers.  Once home we put two of the chickens in the middle of the table, poured the little sauce packets into some bowls, added rice, and presto!  We had lunch.  We never made it to the 3rd chicken which is (un)safe in my dad's fridge and will probably be consumed today some time, as we we are about to board the plane back to Japan.

What makes Andok's chicken so good are two things:  1)  pandan leaves stuffed inside the chicken and 2) charcoal roasting.  Pandan leaves are very aromatic and are frequently cooked with rice to impart the aroma to the rice itself.  It's a long, green, fibrous leaf that you can't eat, but is used as a kind of spice like cinnamon sticks.  Stuffed into a chicken, it seeps into every fiber of the meat.  The slow rotisserie charcoal roasting also imparts an excellent smoky flavor to the chicken.   There may be a sweet soy sauce baste involved too, but I've never asked.  All together I believe this style is from the Bocolod region and it is widely considered the best in the Philippines, and I can say personally, the best in the world.

BTW, there are Andok's Chicken restaurants all over the place, and almost none have seating, so it's usually a strictly take-out affair.  Also, the locations I selected on the maps bear no relation to where we actually got our food.  I can't recall where that was so I picked random restaurants for reference.  You will know them by their sign.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Wholesome Table

Location: The Wholesome Table

Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Breakfast for 2
Price:  1764 pesos
Payment:  Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Fruit juice, duck adobo flake with fried brown garlic rice, corned beef hash
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Yay!  I was hoping we'd have at least one Excellent rating during this trip and boy have we found it.  The Wholesome Table is an all organic, free range, locally sourced, etc... wanna be hippy food joint nearby us here in Makati.  And it's incredible!  We had breakfast there this morning and every bite was delicious.

I started with a juice blend that included beets, ginger, carrots, and camu camu.  The comment I made to my wife was that this must be what blood tastes like to vampires.  It wasn't too sweet, and unlike some juices that feel too light, there was a strong umami undertone that gave it a compulsive quality.  It was very hard not to down it straight.

My wife got a corned beef hash that came with eggs, beans and a salad.  It was excellent.  I got a duck adobo flake that came so crispy and dry, I was glad to see a little reduction of sauce to mix in with it.  Adobo flake is basically taking adobo cooked meat, shredding it, and then frying it up in a pan.  This stuff was cooked to being dry as tinder, but all the flavor was concentrated in it, kind of like bonito flakes.  It also came with eggs and fried garlic brown rice, and small diced fresh tomatoes.  So naturally I mixed it all up into a porridge and ate it.

They are also open for other meals, but we have to keep something to try when we come back again someday.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pho Bac

Location: Pho Bac

Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner for 3
Price: 867 pesos
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Pho with beef and beef balls, fried rice, pork with lemon grass, fresh spring rolls, tofu with garlic salad, steamed pork bun 
English Menu: Yes

Pho Bac was our first real disappointment of the trip to Manila.  We really wanted good Vietnamese as it's so hard to find in Japan, and my dad said this place was recommended by some Vietnamese friends of his who said it was the most authentic in town.  Well...we weren't impressed.  The pho was ok, but not great, the fresh spring rolls not very flavorful with the usual herbs, the "lemon grass pork" didn't have any lemon grass flavor to speak of, and the garlic tofu was bland as all get out  My son was happy (as always) with his fried rice.  The one pleasant surprise was the odd steamed pork bun, which was nothing like Chinese/Japanese/Filipino bao.  It was almost like a thick corn-meal pyramid covering some very tasty bits of ground meat and a quail egg.  I was tempted to rate it "Not Great" but my wife said it was just my disappointment talking, it's more like a solid Ok.