Monday, November 12, 2012

A Japanese Feast at Yurakuen

The place. The food. The perfect spot for a true Japanese feast. Diamond Hotel's Yurakuen, an award-winning restaurant offering the very best in Japanese cuisine, is one of those rare places where you can see, feel and taste real authenticity at every turn and in every dish.

Yurakuen, which means "paradise" in Japanese, is an appropriate name. Every dish is expertly prepared and supervised by Japanese master chef Junichi Sekiyama, from traditional sushi and sashimi, to the freshest and most elaborate seafood and meat dishes matched with aesthetics that feed the eye as well. All this against a backdrop of impressive three-story high floor to ceiling windows surrounding a magnificent all-glass cherry blossom tree as the centerpiece. And one can understand why the name Yurakuen was chosen.

Entering a marbled floor corridor past Yurakuen's Yakiniku Room and all glass Teppanyaki Rooms, guests then cross a bridge over a soothing pond filled with colored glass marbles, and just a few steps away, a tall brass and gold honeycomb door dramatically frames the impressive 70-seater main dining area.

As we were led to our tables by friendly kimono-clad attendants, tuna appetizers were served, signalling the start of an all-out Japanese feast.

The Chuka Wakame Salad came next, a light refreshing appetizer with seaweed and crisp fresh vegetables with mayo based dressing. A perfect starter to any meal at Yurakuen.

Yurakuen offers a wide range of drinks, I go for the Fresh Fruit Shakes. Refreshingly sweet, as more dishes arrive.

The first of Yurakuen's signature dishes came next, starting with the Sashimi Moriawase, an assortment of fresh seafood including tuna, salmon, octopus, fish roe, hamachi (yellow tail) and prawns with a side of seaweed, cucumbers and radish. Squeeze a little kalamansi on the sashimi, and dip in the light soy with some wasabi to enhance the delicate flavors and...

...perfection in each bite. The freshness of the sashimi was evident with the first bite, releasing a subtle sweetness and briny richness one finds only in premium sashimi dishes. The variety of sashimi each have a delicate yet distinct flavor and texture, all in one plate. The pure simplicity of the dish relies solely on absolute freshness for flavor, and this dish delivers both freshness and flavor with an almost zen-like feel. As with most Japanese dishes, each dish provides a total sensory experience, pleasing the eye before the palate.

Next up, sushi. Yurakuen's Nigiri Sushi Moriawase which featured an amazing selection of maki, ebi (shrimp), tamago (egg), fish roe, tuna, cuttlefish, salmon, and unagi (eel).

Let your eyes linger for a moment, and one can't help but admire the meticulous artistry in preparing each type of sushi. The vibrant colors and the variety of sushi allows one to sample different flavors and textures, a feast in itself.

The sweet and almost rich creaminess of the salmon, the incredible freshness of the ebi which gives it a light snap with the bite and the briny fish roe all combine for an amazing experience.  

Japanese Tea is refilled to cleanse your palates for the next dishes to be served...

Yurakuen's signature Dragon Maki, delicately crafted tempura roll with unagi, with a nice subtle heat from the light spicy sauce making this unique and different. The addition of seaweed adds more flavor and texture in this beautifully crafted dish.

The California Maki, with fresh kani (crab), sweet mangoes and rich mayo blending well with the crunchy fish roe, a familiar flavor yet pleasantly different with the superior quality of ingredients setting this apart from the usual California Maki.

And it can be difficult to stop after just one or two... more dishes arrived. The Tofu Steak, fried tofu with a rich vegetable and meat sauce that enhances the tofu's subtle flavor, a nice blend of contrasting flavors and textures.

The Sanma Shioyaki, lightly grilled fresh Pacific Saury, a thin and slender fish yet deceptively rich in flavor.

The Salmon Teriyaki, delicately grilled to release the fatty flavor of salmon, and perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the teriyaki glaze.

Gindara Teriyaki, grilled black cod with sweet teriyaki glaze. The fatty Gindara has subtle flavors, and the freshness gives this dish a delightful melt-in-your mouth feel, like butter. A personal favorite.

Tori Karaage, crisp fried chicken the Japanese way. Lightly battered and deep-fried, the outer layer has a nice crunch revealing a tender, very juicy chicken meat inside.

Squeeze a little lemon for a little zing, perfect as is or with some steamed white rice.

Ebi Gyoza, traditional dumpling with prawn meat, not your usual gyoza. The dumplings were soft and chewy, perfect with the gyoza dipping sauce.

Seafood Ramen, loaded with an assortment of fresh seafood and vegetables, served steaming hot. The light broth, infused with all the subtle flavors of the ingredients, is simply perfect.

Wagyu Beef Ramen, with vegetables and premium beef in a rich beef stock, enhanced by a raw egg that slowly cooks in the steaming hot broth. The Wagyu Beef is tender, perfectly complemented by the assortment  of fresh vegetables.

On the side, freshly ground spices for the ramen.

We also sampled the Mixed Seafood Set, which comes with miso soup, rice, dipping sauces and vegetable appetizers, a complete meal.

Fresh prawns, cuttlefish, and octopus, all delicately grilled and served on a sizzling plate. A healthy option with subtle flavors.

Finally, the premium Wagyu Beef arrived, Yurakuen's Beef Ishiyaki, dramatically presented and served on a hot stone.

One can hear the subtle sizzle as the premium Wagyu beef is slowly cooked by the heat from the stone, and slowly you can see the beef change in color.

And in just minutes, the premium Wagyu beef is grilled perfectly, right before your eyes. Tender and juicy, with just the right combination of marbled fat to retain the juiciness for that melt-in-your-mouth feel. Served with a variety of dipping sauces, I prefer the premium beef as is, as the bold, rich beefy flavor is all you need.

The prime Wagyu Beef Tenderloin came next, also served on a hot stone...

...and the tender meat is grilled in just a few minutes, changing colors right in front of you. Tender and juicy, the premium beef really makes a difference.

Ebi Tempura, a traditional favorite, large prawns in batter and deep-fried with a side of radish and an elegant deep fried fan-shaped eggplant.

To cap the feast, we sampled signature desserts from Diamond Hotel's The Cake Club, like the Le Royale, a rich and decadent cake with valrhona dark chocolate mousse, almond meringue, and hazelnut crisps...

...and The Guia, a rich maple and walnut cheesecake, a delicious blend of textures with the rich and creamy cheese and the crunch from the walnuts.

And there's more. You definitely have to try The Cake Club's premium homemade ice cream, like the Cheesecake Ice Cream elegantly served on Fresh Mango.

I go for an old favorite, the Supermoist Chocolate Cake Ice Cream, with chunks of real cake from one of The Cake Club's signature cakes. Rich, dark chocolate and chewy Supermoist Chocolate Cake, a top pick for chocolate lovers.

True to its name, Yurakuen is definitely a true paradise for authentic Japanese cuisine, and the beautiful interiors serve as a dramatic backdrop completing one's dining experience.

And as the mid afternoon sun prepare to set, lights were turned on revealing intricate ceiling details framing the majestic and beautiful all-glass cherry blossom tree. And if you stay a little longer, you can catch another spectacular Manila Bay sunset through Yurakuen's elegant floor to ceiling glass windows.

Yurakuen also offers four glass-enclosed Teppanyaki rooms for a group of eight, perfect for family gatherings or groups. Sit back on elegant chairs ornately encrusted with colored glass as you enjoy a culinary presentation by a skilled master chef.  Yurakuen also offers Teppanyaki Eat-All-You-Can every lunch and dinner for only P 1,970++ per person, with unlimited flow of standard drinks, local beer and Kirin Beer. You can start the eat-all-you-can feast with a  wide range of appetizers California rolls to seaweed salads before unlimited servings of fresh seafood and premium meat such as Blue Marlin, Codfish, scallops, shrimps, US Beef ribeye, lamb chops and chicken with a side of Japanese Fried Rice all prepared right in front of you. Then cap it off with flamed desserts over Diamond Hotels' signature premium vanilla ice cream.

Or you can opt for Yurakuen's Yakiniku Eat-All-You-Can Buffet for only P 1,620++ per person and grill your own food on special yakiniku tables at the Yakiniku Room. Pretty awesome deals worth checking out.

A remarkable dining experience that totally captivates all your senses, Yurakuen is definitely your paradise for authentic Japanese flavors. Open daily from 11:00 am to to 10:00 pm, excellent Japanese cuisine is never far away. Special thanks to Melanie Pallorina, Public Relations Manager; and Twinkle Lacsamana for an awesome lunch.

Check out Yurakuen and discover freshness and authenticity, your very own paradise for excellent Japanese cuisine.

Diamond Hotel Philippines is located at Roxas Boulevard, corner Dr. J. Quintos Street, Manila. For inquiries and reservations, you can call 528-3000/305-3000 or e-mail bizcenter@diamond For more information, simply visit

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  1. My Husband and I really love Japanese food! All foods looks delicious! I love Fresh Fruit Shakes! Yum yum!

  2. It all looks very tasty!
    Great photographs.

    1. Hi Higley, thanks! And thanks too for stopping by!

  3. sad i missed this :( i want the wagyu beef!!

  4. Another great master piece article, well captured.. I can almost taste it! well done.

  5. wow beautiful snaps. You managed to capture the essence of Japs food. Great job!

    1. Hi Jen, thanks! It was an amazing lunch, great to hear from you Jen!

  6. Everything looks gorgeous, it would be unfair to comment on just a dish or two. If this isn't a Japanese feast, I dunno what is :)

    1. Hi Lazy Black Cat, thanks! And yes, everything looked good and tasted good too! Great to hear from you Lazy Black Cat!

  7. Replies
    1. Hi April, Yurakuen offers both a la carte and buffet meals. You may want to check out Yurakuen's Yakiniku and Teppanyaki Eat-All-You-Can packages, pretty good deals. Thanks for stopping by April!

  8. That truly is a feast! The restaurant looks pretty cool.

    1. Hi Angie, a very cool place, and awesome food too! Thanks for stopping by!

  9. The Japanese are the kings of food preparation, everything looks so stunning. I envy you, I wished I could have been there. =P

    1. Hi Helene, very true. The Japanese approach to food is a total sensory experience, where each dish must please the eye as well as the palate. Always great to hear from you Helene!

  10. The Sashimi Moriawase alone makes me wanna run to Yurakuen :)

    1. hey Drunken Pig, freshness and authenticity make it worth the run, and the place is pretty impressive too! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. The foods and place look interesting.

  12. hi dude! the place looks gorgeous!!!! now i'm wondering if the flavors and quality do justice to your photos. will try this place out.

    1. hey Jay, definitely worth trying out, great food! Great to hear from you bud!

  13. Stunning food... no way you ate all that lot 'though! I Love Japanese food. A.

    1. Hi Anthony, it was some feast, great food! Great to hear from you!


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