In the Philippines, the language of love is pretty obvious, it’s feeding people. If you travel to the Philippines and you make friends, the main form of bonding is through eating; whether it is eating out or dining in, we Filipinos make sure to keep our loved ones full of food. This is also why the Philippines has so many types of food, our cuisine is not limited to recipes from our home country, we also have a variety of food from other countries. One country that has a huge following of restaurants in the Philippines is Japan. Though not everyone is a huge fan of raw fish or fish in general, there is still an abundance of Japanese Cuisine, which provides a lot of choices for foodies just as myself. The great thing is, there a Japanese Restaurants in every city, though some do not hold SM Supermalls, most of the malls hold a semblance of a Japanese restaurant of sorts.
When it comes to cravings, one of the things I know I crave for is Japanese cuisine. Most people would think that authentic Japanese cuisine is hard to come by here in Baguio, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Baguio is home to more than 10 Japanese restaurants that do their best to serve authentic food with a twist. I have three personal favorites that I hope can indulge your craving if you’re ever looking for food from the Land of the Rising Sun. Though not everyone is particularly into the raw fish menu, these restaurants also serve dishes that are cooked and still delicious. I cannot stress how wonderful it is to find restaurants or cafes where you can not only enjoy the food but also enjoy the place itself, and for me, these restaurants all have a little bit of Baguio in them that cannot be replicated anywhere else and they’re all just places where I can truly enjoy the taste of Japan.
3.) Zushi Me Japanese Cuisine
Located in the heart of the central business district, Zushi Me offers great sushi rolls and ramens, the prices are relatively affordable, but not all of the food is student friendly. If you’re a student looking for some good soul food, I do suggest the Nagasaki Ramen, it’s a large serving that’s good for two people if you don’t have too much of an appetite; however, if you’re looking for a large platter that is definitely for sharing, you should try the Sashimi Platter, it comes with 3 types of fish that are filleted, scaled and de-boned to perfection. I often come here when I’m just looking for a place to be with myself and my sushi. I used to order the Sashimi rice bowl because it gives me everything I need. The restaurant recently relocated and underwent some renovations which I can assume is why they increased prices since the move, but it’s definitely still Japanese cuisine on a budget. Among other places in Baguio, Zushi Me is the perfect blend of affordable and delicious. If you’re aware of the rules of dining that are involved with three options: good, cheap, and fast. The virtue is, if you want fast food that is cheap, it won’t be very good; if you want cheap food that is good, it won’t be very fast, and if you want fast food that is good, it won’t be very cheap. Zushi Me is a great blend of all three so you don’t have to worry about spending so much on bad service. One thing I absolutely enjoy about this restaurant is that the ramen is consistent, not too salty and not too watered down. You can definitely enjoy a mix of modern-day fusion meets Japanese cuisine.
2.) Sakura Terraces Japanese Cuisine
Sakura Terrace, I was first introduced to this restaurant when I dined in its branch Yamashita Ramen House, I ordered the Soy Ramen mostly because 1.) I enjoy ramen immensely, and 2.) Baguio’s cold temperatures are perfect for ramen nights. When I ate in Sakura after an intense panic attack, it felt like a large hug in a bowl. I find that ambiance is just as important as the food, which is why I like Sakura because it gives me good food and good vibes. It may seem shallow, but I come here when I need a pick-me-up after a really long semester, and I frequently eat here with my boyfriend. The restaurant itself is decorated beautifully and I love that they opt to play smooth jazz for that relaxed vibe. The prices are a bit higher than Zushi Me, but you definitely get your money’s worth from the service to the food. I would say that their sushi platter is impressive, and the prices range from 500Php-2000Php, all the food in Sakura is worth tasting, and if you’re not a fan of fish, I would definitely suggest you order their Japanese chicken curry, it’s one for the books. This lovely restaurant is located along Military Cutoff, so if you’re coming from John Hay or PMA, you can detour and grab some Pork Chicken Ramen for the soul.
1.) Chaya Japanese Cuisine
Finally, last but not least, I can never forget the first time I ate in Chaya. The whole atmosphere was surreal, I felt the authenticity of the restaurant from its decorations to its food and to say the least, I am shaken.The only thing I say would be a downer is that the prices are not student-budget friendly, but it’s definitely worth saving for. If you’re looking for a place to just enjoy authentic Japanese cuisine, this is the restaurant for you. What I enjoyed most about the restaurant was that it gave me a homey-vibe that isn’t common for most. I’ve been to other Japanese restaurants and some of them would have too formal of a feel that just made it difficult to kick back and relax, but with Chaya, I have felt welcomed and satisfied with my meal. Bonus points for it having great aesthetics because your Instagram posts will look stunning. I always think it’s so important when a restaurant captures the right vibe, with Chaya, it’s definitely the right vibe. No stiff dining for anyone! The location is a little out of the way, but I can say that good food is worth the drive.
With this, I know that most will say that there’s a lot of hype around Japanese cuisine, but if there’s one thing that can get me in a good mood, it’s a perfect balance that these restaurants give me. So, if you’re ever in the mood for some palatable sashimi, you should make it a point to check these restaurants out. Or, even if you’re just looking for an effortless date, I find that nothing’s more romantic than a sushi date with your significant other. So if you’re ever in Baguio and have a hankering for Japanese cuisine, skip SM and go find the restaurants that aren’t commonly found in your own towns.
Featured in the photos is Zushi Me.