Saturday, October 23, 2021

Four Masters, One Space: Tonkatsu, Ramen, Yakitori and Tempura at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall

Delicately crisp and juicy Tonkatsu, a hearty and sumptuous bowl of Ramen, fresh of the grill Yakitori and elegantly battered and fried Tempura, these are the staples of all your Japanese cravings. And now, you can find it all in one place... 

The Standard Group brings its popular and enduring brands led by Yabu, Ippudo and now Hachibei and Hannosuke under one roof in a unique Japanese food hall concept, Kiwami Japanese Food Hall. Located at Bonifacio High Street, the innovative and spacious establishment redefines the Japanese dining experience with authenticity and masterful execution based on the Four Masters, One Space concept leveraging all of the group's brands in one seamless experience. Read on and step inside one of the metro's exciting new dining destinations...

As the metro gradually and cautiously opens up with the easing of quarantine restrictions, loyal customers are expected to flock back to their favorite restaurants after months at home. The quarantine experience continues to change and transform our daily routine with dining at home, the rise of the food delivery culture and increased online usage emerging as new consumer habits defining a challenging new normal. Diners yearning to head out once more will now be greeted by an exciting and authentic Japanese dining experience at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall. Dining out, long prohibited during the quarantine, returns with a new set of rules conforming to the new normal including temperature scans and contact tracing... 

...and al fresco dining as an option. The clean and efficient use of space at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall allows diners to enjoy a Japanese feast with the proper socially-distanced configuration for your peace of mind. The distinctive "Japan Blue" and Shibori Art, the oldest indigo dye technique in Japan, weaves a thematic palette of hues throughout the new food hall reflecting traditional Japanese hospitality and culture. But the real magic begins once you step inside the unique Japanese-inspired food hall concept...

Four Masters, One Space

Japanese specialty restaurants have long been popular in the metro. When it comes to Tonkatsu, one already has a name in mind. Same goes with Ramen, Tempura and Yakitori. It's specialty restaurants like these that come top-of-mind when it comes to Japanese cravings. One specialty dish, done masterfully with the freshest ingredients, elevates the experience. At Kiwami Japanese Food Hall, four masters specializing in a specific dish come together to redefine your Japanese dining experience. This simply means you no longer need to go to four different establishments to enjoy the very best Tonkatsu, Ramen, Tempura and Yakitori, it's all here at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall from master chefs long known for their specialty dishes. 

From Michellin Bib Gourmand starred Kazuya Takeda's famed Katsu and Tonkatsu at Yabu... Japan's Ramen King and 3-Time Ramen Master Chef Hall of Famer Shigemi Kawahara of Ippudo...

...Tokyo's iconic Tempura Tendon Chef Shinya Kaneko of Hannosuke... 

...and internationally renowned yakitori innovator, Katsunori Yashima of Hachibei, the convergence of acclaimed masters in one place is an experience in itself combining both authenticity and mastery of technique at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall. Four Masters, One Space represents a collection of the very best from Japan, and it's right here at Bonifacio High Street. 

With Kiwami Japanese Food Hall's specialty salts at your table, you're ready for Japanese feast.

The Right Start

A proper and authentic Japanese feast demands the right starter to open up the palate and set the tone for a memorable dining experience. At Kiwami Japanese Food Hall, the perfect appetizer comes in the form of plump and succulent oysters from the cold waters off Hokkaido. The Hokkaido Oyster, available fresh or grilled (P 455 One Piece/P 1,320 Three Pieces) is probably the sweetest and smoothest oyster I've had in a long while.

Flown in direct from Hokkaido, the "jumbo" oysters are also the largest I've seen served in the metro. Paired with Ponzu Sauce and spicy Daikon Oroshi, the clean, briny and sweet notes comes through straight from the half-shell for a vibrant burst of fresh flavors followed by the bright tartness of the Ponzu and the soothing heat from Daikon Oroshi for depth and added layers of flavor.  

Fresh and seasonal, this is one absolute must-try at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall whenever it's available. Seafood caught or harvested from cold waters deliver a richer and more intense flavor compared with the usual variety from warm, tropical waters. One bite of the Hokkaido Oyster drapes the palate with its silky smooth texture and fresh flavors, perfectly finished by the Ponzu and Daikon Oroshi. You can also enjoy your Hokkaido Oysters grilled over binchotan, a traditional Japanese charcoal from Japanese Holm Oak often used for yakitori. 

The impressive size with the oyster as large as its shell is just one of the features that differentiates this gem from the usual local catch. But it's the clean and fresh flavors of the ocean that seals the deal. Probably the best oysters in the metro, perfectly shucked and served on a half shell at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall. 

Other tasty starters at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall include Ebi Katsu Bao, Chicken Katsu Bao, Mozzarella Katsu Sticks, Agedashi Tofu and Shio Dare Edamame from Yabu, Pork Buns, Nanban Karaage, Hakata-Style Gyoza, Goma-Q, Okonomiyaki, Chashu Chahan as well as various sushi rolls like Aburi Shrimp Tartar Roll, Aburi Spicy Salmon Roll, Torched Salmon Roll and Ebi Tempura Roll by Ippudo.  

They say the world is your oyster. Then, make mine a large and plump Hokkaido Oyster with sides of Ponzu Sauce and comfortingly soothing heat of Daikon Oroshi at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall.

From The Binchotan Grill

Fresh of the grill, gently charred and infused with delicate hints of smokiness are up next with the traditional Yakitori specialties of Hachibei. Founder Katsunori Yashima is driven by a mission to present authentic Hakata-style yakitori bannered by his signature Buta Bara or grilled pork belly skewers. Romanced by the fiery heat of binchotan, the dense consistency of the charcoal delivers a gentle dry heat of flame and smoke for a delicately nuanced finish. The Platter (P 480) with five skewers is the best way to get acquainted with the traditional yet innovative culinary style of Hachibei...

...with savory Buta Bara Tare draped in a proprietary house-made yakitori sauce, Tsukene or pork and chicken meatball glazed with sweet yakitori sauce, Tomato Bacon Roll with sweet cherry tomatoes wrapped in slow-smoked bacon, Tori Momo Mentaiko with salted fish roe and a dab of Japanese mayo and Tebasaki Shio or salted chicken wings. 

The Buta Bara Tare is perfectly grilled with its delicately charred outer layer over juicy pork belly. The savory richness of the pork are tempered by the sharp notes of sweet yakitori sauce for balanced flavors...

...while the Tomato Bacon Roll brings both flavor and textural contrast into play with the tartness of cherry tomatoes layered with the smoky and savory finish of bacon for another flavorful combination.  

The Tori Momo Mentaiko with chicken thighs brings the delicate richness of juicy chicken with added layers of flavor from the salted fish roe and the creamy finish of smooth Japanese mayo. Expertly grilled, the complex weave of flavors and textures just bursts in the palate while the pork and chicken meatball blend of the Tsukene lays on even more flavorful notes. 

The simple salt based seasoning of the Tebasaki Shio or grilled wings are all that's needed to bring out the subtle richness of the chicken kicked up by the smoky hints from the dense binchotan charcoal. The attention to detail with each skewer clearly highlights the art and mastery of the grill perfected by world-renowned yakitori innovator Katsunori Yashima of Hachibei.

Other fresh-off-the-grill options by Hachibei at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall include the Asparagus Buta Bara Roll (P 165) with the fresh snap of mildly sweet asparagus wrapped in thinly sliced pork belly glazed with yakitori sauce...

...for another flavorful combo finished with the magic of the binchotan grill. Tender and juicy pork with the fresh and clean flavors of asparagus, it's a pairing that works. All the way down to the last skewer.

The Japanese Spinach Buta Bara Roll (P 130) is another innovative yakitori creation by Hachibei at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall with a sharp and creamy cheesy spin. The mild notes of fresh spinach comes through wrapped in thinly sliced pork belly topped with torched sharp Cheddar for a complex yet balanced blend of flavors and textures. The creamy cheese adds an elegant finish to the skewer with its mildly sharp hints.  

Authenticity In A Bowl

From the binchotan grill to the fryer, a bowl of Shinya Kaneko's tempura tendon creations at Hannosuke pleases the palate next at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall. Long known in Japan for his authentic Edomae-style tempura tendon, Hannosuke takes pride in their specialty fresh water eel or unagi, shrimp, soft-boiled eggs and vegetables fried to a delicate crispness drizzled with their heirloom sweet and salty sauce. Based on a family recipe passed on to Shinya Kaneko by his grandfather, Hannosuke is now one of Japan's best for traditional tempura tendon. The elements for that perfect tempura tendon include the freshest seafood and vegetables, the use of sesame oil for that golden and fragrant crunch, specialty flour for that signature light and crisp finish and the family's very own tendon sauce straight from Japan to your bowl.

The assortment of fresh and crisp seafood and vegetables are then served on a specially designed "arita yaki" porcelain bowl from Saga Kyushu in Japan that retains heat and holds all the sumptuous components of the perfect tempura tendon including the long golden and crisp conger eel.  

Served with lightly battered tempura laid on soft and fluffy rice with Miso Soup, pickled vegetables and tentsuyu or their signature tempura sauce, each bowl is a lavish feast in itself. The Premium Tempura Tendon Set (P 685) by Hannosuke is a seriously loaded dish with unagi, ebi, squid and scallop kakiage, onsen tamago, eggplant, sweet potato and nori for a sumptuous seafood and vegetable meal in a bowl.

The light and crisp batter brings that delicate crunch with each bite, followed by the sweet notes of eggplant and sweet potato while the fresh briny sweetness of unagi, ebi, squid and scallop kakiage and nori come through for an authentic taste of Edomae-style tempura tendon. But there's more...  

Gently tap the lightly crisp battered surface of the onsen tamago and let the yolk ooze down the rice for even more flavor. It's the perfect finishing touch for a hearty bowl of authentic flavors by Hannosuke.

In addition to Tendon Sets served in bowls, Hannosuke also offers Meshi Sets with the tempura and rice served separately and Tempura Platters. Yakitori from Hachibei and Tempura Tendon from Hannosuke, that's just half of the offerings at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall. There's more with the Katsu and Tonkatsu specialties of Yabu and the signature Ramen of Ippudo. And you don't even have to move to another establishment to enjoy these authentic dishes representing the very best of Japan. It's all here in one elegant space at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall.  

Sweet Endings at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall

Cap your authentic Japanese feast on a sweet and high note with Soft Serve Ice Cream made from the finest Hokkaido milk. The indulgently smooth Hokkaido Soft Serve is available in Lengua de Gato Cone (P 125), in a Cup with Kuromitsu Boba (P 150) and in a Cup with Crushed lengua de Gato (P 150). 

Hokkaido's famed fresh milk and dairy produce ranks among the world's finest, and quite fittingly you'll find it at Kiwami Japanese Food Hall which boasts of serving Japan's best in one space.

Kiwami Japanese Food Hall does something special with its Hokkaido Soft Serve Ice Cream by pairing it with sweet Lengua de Gato or thin butter cookies. Originally shaped like a cat's tongue hence its name, Kiwami Japanese Food Hall transforms the local delicacy into a cone as the perfect vessel for the smooth Hokkaido Soft Serve Ice Cream. I like my ice cream in a cup so it's less messy but you can have it with the crunch of Lengua de Gato too. Topped with crushed Lengua de Cato and the remaining bottom half of the cone, enjoy your Hokkaido Soft Serve Ice Cream with a sweet crunch in a convenient handy cup.   

We've seen new consumer habits emerge and unique innovations as the food service sector adapts to the new normal. Kiwami Japanese Food Hall is one of those innovations. As more diners venture out and enjoy dining out once more, Kiwami Japanese Food Hall should be on your list of must-try restaurants. Showcasing the best of Japan, you can enjoy the famous Tonkatsu of Yabu, the specialty Ramen of Ippudo, savory Yakitori of Hachibei and Tempura Tendon at Hannosuke all in one space for a memorable dining experience in this new normal.

Kiwami Japanese Food Hall is located at the Lower Ground of C3 Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City or call 0919 074 4541 for inquiries. You can also visit their FB Page and IG Feed at and @kiwamifoodhall for more updates.

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