Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A Passion for Clean, Uncomplicated Flavors Re-Ignited at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse

The bustling Quezon City neighborhood probably has more steakhouses than most, but one steakhouse cuts through the clutter with its distinctive Japanese spin...

The constantly evolving culinary landscape is all about change, adapting to it and keeping in step. We've seen trends come and go, but sometimes you need to just stop and return to the basics. Keeping things simple and uncomplicated with real and fresh flavors is often forgotten in the mad rush to be different. Chef Michael Santos takes Nanka Japanese Steakhouse on a different path not only for that much needed differentiation in a densely competitive neighborhood but to showcase a culinary philosophy built around honest and simple flavors masterfully executed. Welcome to Nanka Japanese Steakhouse... 

I first met Chef Michael Santos five years ago at Speakeasy (more on my post here at Burgers and Booze at Speakeasy), and I knew then that simple, honest, uncomplicated and clean flavors were at the very core of his culinary style. It's this uncompromising passion for real flavors that set the tone for our preview...

"In my journey as a cook, I am blessed with many influences, mentors, peers, and eventually mentees. In this journey, I've done foams, soils, agars etc. but I still gravitate to simpler plates, cleaner flavors and straight forward food without the "how to eat this" manual," explained Chef Mike.

As guests arrived for the special preview at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse, Chef Mike Santos and his team offered tasty bites with their signature Oysters Hollandaise (P 365-6pcs), a novel take on a classic draped with indulgently creamy notes without overwhelming the fresh and clean briny flavors of the oysters.

Nanka Japanese Steakhouse offers a variety of oyster dishes including the traditional Oysters Rockfeller (P 355-6 pcs) and Oyster Platter (P 475 with 3 pcs per kind), the perfect starter before your savory steak course. Like a proper steakhouse, fresh oysters are part of the extensive menu at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse. 

Delicately sweet with mild briny hints capped by a velvety smooth richness, the flavors just pop in your mouth draping it with layers of pure, fresh and clean notes. From the very first course at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse all the way to the last, Chef Mike Santos keeps it real.

Nanka Japanese Steakhouse offers more of the day's freshest catch with their delicately flavored Grilled Ahi Tuna (P 355) and the crisp and crunchy Deep-Fried Oysters (P 375-8 pcs). Both dishes delivered contrasting flavors and textures for a tasty glimpse of the varied repertoire of dishes at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse.

Plump and succulent skewered prawns with bold briny notes were served next with the Grilled Togarashi Prawns (P 495-9 pcs) delivering subtle sweet flavors followed by the delectable sharpness of togarashi spices for both balance and depth. 

Each bite begins with an audible snap, with freshness adding its own layer of richness to the dish. The togarashi weaves its bright notes to the prawns to complement its clean flavors for another simple yet masterfully executed dish. And that's just for starters...

Nanka Japanese Restaurant serves Executive Lunch Bowls from Monday to Friday at 11:00 am to 2:00 pm with iced tea for dine-in orders. Diners can choose from seven savory options including Pollo al Brasa (P 199), Roast Chicken (P 199), Crispy Pork Belly (P 199), Mixed Chirashi (P 299), Ebi Fry (P 199), Tuna & Salmon Chirashi (P 299) and Pan-Fried Tenderloin (P 299). The Tuna & Salmon Chirashi brings fresh and mildly sweet notes to the palate kicked up by the wasabi for multiple layers of flavors. It's a meal in itself, perfect for quick weekday lunches without scrimping on real flavors.

Nanka Japanese Restaurant also offers a variety of delightfully surprising dishes infused with Japanese hints like the sweet, nutty and earthy Shiitake Pasta (P 335), a healthy and light option that's big on flavor.

The firm and chewy noodles are evenly coated with the sweet sauce, while thick slices of shiitake completes this satisfying dish along with crisp slivers of garlic and spring onions.

Fresh flavors come into play with the Prawn Garlic Noodles (P 375), a hearty and comforting dish with the nutty notes of garlic blending seamlessly with the briny and succulent prawns. Each component of the dish complements the other in a delicate balance.

"I love food. I love to eat. I come from a family that love it too. I am blessed to have many culinary influences growing up, my family has an abundance of good cooks," says Chef Mike Santos. "I always preferred simpler food. I often gravitated to what our household staff were eating rather than what was on our table. I probably grew up eating more than my fair share of street food even if I was sternly told not to do so, and I still do," added Chef Mike. This passion for simpler, uncomplicated yet rich and real flavors resonates in every dish at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse.  

The Garlic Crabs (2 crabs at market price) makes its appearance on the table, proving once again that a good dish doesn't have to be complicated. You just can't go wrong with succulent crabs draped in garlic and butter...

...so get ready to get down and dirty with these crabs. I recall a chef telling me a long time ago that "freshness is flavor." This dish is definitive proof.

You can enjoy your crabs with garlic noodles, but if you can't resist a bowl of steamed white rice to soak up all that rich, buttery and garlicky sauce, go ahead.

Chef Mike Santos then presents the premium selection of imported beef at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse. Like the finest steakhouses, guests are presented with the steaks before firing up the grill to their preferred doneness. It's a tradition that adds to your dining experience at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse.

"I like clean flavors. I like to emphasize the protein. I was taught to give respect to the animal being served and I feel that the best way to do that is to not lose its soul, its flavor," shared Chef Mike Santos.

Sourcing the finest beef from Australia's famed Rangers Valley, Nanka Japanese Steakhouse offers WX Rangers Valley Wagyu Cross Beef and Rangers Valley Black Onyx Pure Black Angus Beef for its steak selections. That's serious beef. Nanka Japanese Restaurant also offers Japanese Wagyu Beef A4 and A5 as well.

The WX Wagyu Cross Ribeye (P 650/100 g) is perfectly grilled to medium rare with its rich marbling adding both bold flavors and buttery texture with each bite. Carved into slabs for sharing, the beef is fork-tender almost like butter with just that slight bite to remind you this is beef. A lingering richness follows after every bite, coating your palate with its savory indulgence. Nanka Japanese Steakhouse serves a mildly sweet and tart sauce along with their homemade chimichurri...

...but you can also ask for their Togarashi Salt and Wasabi Salt. For beef this good, all you need is a pinch of salt and that's it. And it's got to be medium rare. Anything more than medium is like killing the cow. Twice. 

The WX Wagyu Cross Strip Steak (P 600/100 g) is a leaner yet equally tender cut with beefier flavors. The salt brings out the beefy notes, delivering a burst of real and robust beefy flavors. That tender bite and the rich flavors will have you going for another slice... 

In between bites, a dip in the chimichurri tempers the beefy richness to cleanse the palate and you're ready for another slice. The presentation may be spartan, but you don't need much with beef this good. The steak is clearly the star of the plate, and Chef Mike reinforces that with the way it's presented. It's as simple as that. 

Pair your steak with a variety of tasty sides like the Mashed Potato (P 185)...

...the Nanka Fries (P 265)...

...the Sauteed Wild Mushrooms (P 365)...

...and Roasted Assorted Vegetables (P 315).

Finally, the Black Onyx Tomahawk (P 495/100 g-good for 3-4 pax) is served. The massive Black Onyx Tomahawk is conveniently carved into tender slices so you don't have to be a barbarian on the table. After all, a premium slab of fine beef deserves some finesse.

Any way you look at it, this Tomahawk just impresses. Known for its marbled beef, Black Onyx Pure Black Angus Beef brings that sensation of tender juiciness and decadent mouth-feel with each bite. 

As the final photos were taken, the Tomahawk calls.

Grilled to medium rare perfection with a juicy pink center, a pinch of Togarashi Salt completes the experience at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse. It just doesn't have to be complicated.

The Quezon City neighborhood has its share of steakhouses, and Nanka Japanese Steakhouse is a welcome addition to the vibrant culinary scene with its uncompromising approach to simple, straightforward and real flavors.

"I prefer a lot of things like peanut butter on my banana or just damp but not soaked cereal, that's just me. My taste is not for everyone, but I know this for sure, most like simple, straightforward and clean-flavored food, that's enough for us to do what we do and give that to the customer." Chef Mike just nails it with his uncomplicated approach to real flavors at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse.

For dessert, Nanka Japanese Steakhouse satisfies your sweet cravings with their indulgent Japanese Green Tea Mousse (P 215)... 

...and the intricate Chocolate Ganache Mountee (P 245) to end your feast on a high note. 

"My team and I commit to serving delicious, clean-flavored and uncomplicated dishes to your table. We strive for excellence. We are passionate. We are Nanka," stated Chef Michael Santos. Rediscover simpler, uncomplicated, straightforward and real flavors, and find out why this Quezon City neighborhood is abuzz once more...at Nanka Japanese Steakhouse.

Nanka Japanese Steakhouse is located at 1810 Mother Ignacia Avenue corner Roces Avenue, Quezon City or call +632 517-9677 and +639 776-218-472 for more information and inquiries.

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