In between the busy streets of Makati, there lies a secret that only few talk about. The orange arch acting as a gateway between this town to something quite different. You can say it’s just like Narnia, the enchanting feeling of being somewhere else totally different than what you thought it would be.
You’re here, you’re home. Beneath the wooden fixtures and strange writing on the wall, you’re not quite sure how to act. The scent of the burning coal, the sizzle of the grill, the sound of clay glasses clicking, the strange language, and the different clothing. Yes, you’re in Tokyo. The fare ranges from your typical Sashimi and sushi to Yakinuku and Takoyaki. Each of the different restaurants has their own specialty dishes and I will share them all with you.Note that majority of the restaurants don’t have an English menu so you will need to ask the servers who are more than eager to help you with your choice.
In the center of Little Tokyo, there is a courtyard with a small garden surrounded by Christmas lights and lanterns. Restaurants around this area offer Al Fresco dining. This is the best place to sit down if you plan to cross order between different restaurants. You will also notice that most of the servers are wearing traditional Japanese outfits.
Kagura Japanese restaurant prides itself on having the best Okonomiyaki available in Manila. If you want to see how they make their famous Okonomiyaki, get a seat at the bar or if not take a seat in their elevated tables on tatami mats.
Their Negiyaki Okonomiyaki is filled with onion, pork, and eggs. then it’s topped with the sweet okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and nori. You can ask them to add bonito flakes for an extra bite. The whole dish is very well balanced and tasty. If you want something heavier you can ask them to add yakisoba noodles to your Okonomiyaki for only 30 PHP.
They have 2 kinds of Okonomiyaki one with the batter, cabbage, eggs, the other one with the yakisoba noodles. You can customize your Okonomiyaki by adding different variants such as pork, squid, octopus, or bacon. Then they will drizzle it with their signature Okonomiyaki sauce, Japanese Mayo, and Nori flakes. The taste and ingredients of your Okonomiyaki are up to you, you will just need an add a bit of extra.
3. Dojo Dairy
After having your meal, you should visit Dojo Dairy. This ice cream shop specializes in Japan inspired flavors such as wasabi, green tea, miso sake, and black sesame, and even blue cheese. They use Hokkaido milk in all of their creations, you can really taste the richness of the milk in each bite.
Their latest fair is their Hokkaido milk soft serve ice cream topped with cereals, this is very similar to the cereal milk in Momofuku’s milk bar in NYC.
You see the smoke coming from the end of the hall and were a lot of patrons are either standing up or seated all the way to the bathroom. That’s Urameshi-ya. This authentic Yakiniku restaurant has had a big following due to their unbeatable EAT ALL YOU CAN fare on Mondays-Fridays. They serve unlimited Wagyu cubes, shrimps, king crabs, scallops, sausages, and other items to grill.
One of the few places that make handmade soba/udon noodles in Manila, they are also the only restaurant in Little Tokyo where their most of their servers are fluent in Nihongo. Being in a more prominent location compared to others in the compound, Sekitori has a lot of diners. The best things to try here is their Curry, Hotpot, and Soba. For those anime fans, they also have an extensive manga collection inside their restaurant, feel free to browse.
9. Chotto Stop
Chotto Stop is a Japanese grocery where you can buy your Japanese snacks, ramen, furikake, and ice cream. They also have a small restaurant at the back where you can get great Bento boxes for a good deal.
10. Izakaya Kikufuji
Where do I start? Like other Little Tokyo restaurants, Kikufuji has a very large menu but best to try their Gyukushi, Gindara, and their Sashimi and Sushi. Locals, foreigners and Japanese expats frequent this place that it can get very crowded.
The first thing you should know is that it’s better to go to Kikufuji during lunch since they have lunch meals and no service charge. At night, they give away beer stubs after your meal. It’s a nice treat after a long day of work.
11. Shinjuku Ramen House
As its name suggests, Shinjuku Ramen House is known for their ramen. Although unconventional, try their big bowl of ramen that’s good for 2-3 people. Their noodles and broth really stand out and is perhaps the best in Little Tokyo.
12. Bun Chum
Compared to all these other restaurants in Little Tokyo, Bum Chum is the only one that serves intercontinental comfort food. Expect their menu to include sisig, spaghetti, and hamburgers.
Yamazaki is another grocery with a small restaurant inside. You can find your Japanese ingredients and snacks in the grocery while having a quick bite in their restaurant. They have the most affordable meals in the whole compound, a meal can cost you from 150-350 PHP. After dining, you should grab some ice cream in their grocery for a taste of their classic Japanese ice cream brands.
In contrast to Yamazaki, Seryna is one of the pricier restaurants here in Little Tokyo, the ambiance is more fine dining traditional Japanese, as compared to all the other restaurants in the compound. The ceiling has a wooden artwork that is very picturesque. You will notice a lot of Japanese patrons dining here.
I recommend you try their fresh sashimi and sushi, also knows to be the best in Little Tokyo, as well as, their bento boxes.