Japan, a land known for its unique mix of modern culture and tradition, has always been famous for good food and their commitment to quality and freshness. A culinary journey to Japan, for instance, reveals that its food is not only one of the world’s healthiest but also most aesthetically appealing. This applies to a variety of fascinating Japanese cuisine.
Grilled and skewered dishes called yakitori abound in Japan. Yakitori-ya (yakitori stands and restaurants) are dining places frequented by office workers and businessmen before their train ride heading home This is their way of de-stressing from Japan’s highly competitive corporate jungle.
In the Philippines, a restaurant dedicated to serving the best yakitori dishes- NANBANTEI OF TOKYO - recently opened its 2nd branch at the new Bonifacio High Street Central to give diners a taste of Japan’s fresh, tasty and healthy grilled dishes.
It caters to young professionals, businessmen, families, and just about anybody who loves grilled food done the Japanese way.
HOT OFF THE GRILL
Yakitori means “grilled chicken” in Japanese but at Nanbantei, there’s more to feast on than just chicken. The restaurant prides itself in showcasing its flavorful yakitori dishes -- from beef, pork and chicken, to seafood and vegetables.
For that authentic yakitori experience, the most popular items on Nanbantei’s menu are Tebasaki (chicken wings), Aspara Maki (asparagus wrapped with pork), Pork Garlic Yaki (pork with garlic flavor), Tsukune (chicken meat balls) and Yaki Niku (grilled thin slices of beef). They are skewers of succulent meat interspersed with a variety of fresh ingredients then cooked over a hot grill.
Other yakitori dishes that are must-try as well are Shiso Maki (pork with Shiso leaf); Shishitou Maki (Japanese pepper with pork); Nanban Yaki (beef with special Nanban sauce); Shiitake Maki (shiitake mushroom wrapped with beef); Leba (chicken liver); Suna Gimo (chicken gizzard); Kawa (chicken skin); Shake Kushi Yaki (grilled salmon balls with teriyaki sauce); Ika Maki (cuttlefish with Shiso leaf) and Ebi Kushi Yaki (skewered shrimps), among others. Those who prefer an even healthier meal can choose from the vegetable yakitori such as tofu, corn, peppers and other skewered greens.
For a little of everything, there are platters and sets that include assorted yakitori varieties (Yakitori Set, Best Seller, Surf & Turf and Seafood Platter).
“We want to give our guests the authentic yakitori experience,” says Laine de Jesus- Vallar, marketing manager. “We achieve this through faithful execution of the yakitori way of cooking – fresh ingredients, healthy grilling, and tasty food. Our dishes are nothing fancy. They are simple, straightforward, and unpretentious, yet very satisfying. From ingredients to preparation, guests are assured of stringent standards that the Japanese are known for in food preparation and presentation.”
NANBANTEI - FROM JAPAN TO THE PHILIPPINES
Nanban means “foreigner” and Tei rest house or teahouse. When put together, Nanbantei means a place where guests can unwind and have something to eat or drink after a long day of work. Nanbantei of Tokyo is an international chain of yakitori restaurants, with locations in Singapore, Shanghai, and the Philippines. Their flagship restaurant is in Roponggi, with a history that spans over 40 years.
The chain’s longevity can be attributed to their commitment to the traditional way of preparing and cooking yakitori, as well as the kind of service and ambiance that the Japanese are known for.
In the Philippines, Nanbantei opened its first branch in Polaris St., Makati in 1998. It then moved to Greenbelt 3 to cater to a more diverse market in 2002. It renovated its restaurant in 2010, when Am-Phil Food Concepts (the group that brought Chili’s in the Philippines in 1996) took over its management.
When Nanbantei opened in the Philippines 14 years ago, people were not fully aware of yakitori except for Japanese expats and families or businessmen who have been to Japan. Through the years, it has been embraced and enjoyed by Filipinos who are well traveled, well read and more adventurous and open to trying something different.
“Grilled food is always a healthier option to fried dishes. Filipinos love everything grilled as can be seen in the numerous barbecue restaurants around. Nanbantei elevates this affection to an almost delicate Asian art form, the Japanese adopted tradition of grilling, brought to Japan by the Dutch during the Edo period.”
Aside from the variety of yakitori dishes, Nanbantei offers the Filipino palate a peek into Japanese way of life and culture through its culinary techniques, giving a whole new meaning to the word “grilling,” Vallar explains.
Nanbantei of Tokyo Philippines has developed its own unique training system that incorporates Japanese dining traditions with Filipino sensibilities. “We strive to maintain the authenticity of service and food preparation required by the franchise, and apply internationally accepted food handling and safety procedures,” Vallar adds.
The new Bonifacio High Street branch comfortably seats at least 120 persons, and boasts of a fantastic view of the Makati/Taguig skyline at night, from its perch at the 2nd level of the new Bonifacio High Street expansion mall. The restaurant’s high ceiling adds to that airy, uncluttered and cozy feel. The minimalist modern décor and bamboo accents provide a quiet sophistication.
“Bonifacio High Street’s open air mall and cosmopolitan concept perfectly suit our brand, as we feel that we cater to the young, hip, and adventurous when it comes to trying new and emerging restaurant concepts,” Vallar says.
With the thought that Filipinos are now more receptive to new dining experiences, Nanbantei is looking forward to more yakitori items to spice up their menu as it further promotes “Culture Through Taste” and celebrate the Filipino love for grilled food through the yakitori tradition—the hip and healthy Japanese way.
As an opening treat, Nanbantei in Bonifacio High Street is offering a “Beer Bucket” promotion where guests can avail of six (6) bottles of local beers for only P360.