Posted by: nastypen | February 9, 2008

Showdown in Little Tokyo

I have been going to Makati Cinema Square for years now. I have watched movies there back when they had cinemas. It has become my favorite haunt for pirated DVDs of art films. I know the environs of the place. I know there was an adjacent area there named “Little Tokyo” but never really had the inclination to go there. Last night, I finally did.

It is part of the complex of the mile-long row of offices, karaoke bars, restaurants. One area had a minature red torii gate with “Little Tokyo” and it was a gateway to a collection of Japanese restaurants frequented by Japanese expats. We went to Kagura, a restaurant specializing in Okonomi-yaki, or, simply put, Japanese pancake-type meals.

While most people venture to the malls and eat in restaurants with overpriced crap on their plates, Kagura is a refreshing find. The prices are affordable and the food is authentic. Sure, it is hardly the glamorous eating place; it’s basically a hole in the wall type of restaurant but with aesthetics of cramped Japanese eating places for the working masses. I like the touch of ?Japanese kitsch like the bobbing heads of Hanshin Tigers Baseball Teams greeting those who ate at the bar.

This place beats any overpriced Italian restaurant littered with social climbers. People who went to this place obviously came for the food. No schmaltzing.
They have two tables and a bar. Last night, the place was brimming so we ate at the bar. The TV was blaring Japanese news of a latest scandal in which some food imported from China are laced with pesticide. The cook and owner, a softspoken Japanese man was busy with the food in a meticulous routine.

I really miss this sort of set-up. I remember the days going to a particular Japanese restaurant in Cebu wherein they prepare the food in front of us. Those were great times. i learned how to use the chopsticks in that place. So the sizzle and smoke wafting before me made me think of those days and I smile.

The preparation of the food itself is interesting. Some may want to discuss about work, while others watch the TV, we were mesmerized by the process. It’s like a culinary ballet. Ok that may be too much drama of a description but we were entrenched and watching.

The food looked and smell scrumptious. For under 300 pesos, my companions barely finished theirs. It was that filling. I, on the other hand , ordered the most expensive okonomi-yaki. No, not because I want the best, it’s because that meal had my most favorite fruit on earth: CHEESE. My sister would have approved of the meal given its balanced segments. It had vegetables, pork, fish, squid, and the pancake.

The food is like sandwiched between pancakes and this is what I ordered:

My yummy meal is ready for the close-up:

For an extra charge, you can have noodles in your meal and have these fish flakes sprinkled on top.

Well well well….Next time, I should try these out with the meal:

I paid 350 pesos for my meal and fresh calamansi juice. That was the highest among the group. Still, it was not a bad deal. I was burping for the next hour.

The showdown happened as to who could finish their meals. I did because I didn’t have any lunch nor dinner then. The others asked for a doggy bag for half of their meal.

The taste was very subtle. No taste buds calisthenics here but exquisite, nonetheless. What it lacked in taste made up for the several textures that rolled in my mouth. So the food resonates the restrained quality found in generally Japanese aesthetics: zen garden, the noh, the tea ceremony, the haiku et al.

Of course, I’m returning. This is the place to make quiet conversations and enjoy food. This is the place one can bravely and deservedly label “authentic Japanese.” With that, please do not expect any bottomless iced tea in this place.



  1. punta tayo dito ha… hehe

  2. ohmygarsh! okonomiyaki!!! Lafang talaga ako dyan on my veylklation!

  3. uwaaa!!! =) sugoi!!
    i’ve been wanting to visit Little Tokyo but i have no idea how.. i was wondering if you could help me how to get there?? please.. how do i get there if i came from ayala MRT?? sankyuu =)

  4. terge, you take the mrt and get off at Magallanes station…NOT ayala…MAGALLANES Station… take the jeep going to JP Rizal…ask the driver if they are going to Makati Cinema Square. If they are passing through Makati Cinema Square, get in…..tell them to drop you off Makati Cinema Square…..Little Tokyo is just next to that. you can’t miss it because Makati Cinema square is in between Little Tokyo and a vacant lot….if you see a Red Tori’i (japanese style) gate, that’s the place….just get in…it’s a compound filled with restos and bars catering to mostly Japanese clients. Enjoy….

  5. OMG ang sarap jan! authentic japanese food talaga.

  6. hi yun fud nag sineserve jan gud for ilan tao??? sa labas ba ng restau ng little tokyo my makikita menu para mabasa yun prices ng fud… thank you… god bless

  7. one serving can feed one big guy like me and it was filling….so this means it could serve for two “normal-sized” people as well. i don’t remember seeing a menu outside though. Little Tokyo is not a restaurant though. It’s the name of the place with a collection of different Japanese restaurants like Kagura.

  8. thanks sa reply may i ask madali ba makita ang kagura sa lttle tokyo side from okonomi-yaki what other food they serve syaka how much price range. god bless

  9. Nats, there are signages inside Little Tokyo so you wouldn’t miss Kagura. And Little Tokyo is not exactly huge like that horrendous Mall of Asia so you wouldn;t get lost there. I mentioned the price range in the blog. I think it’s better if you finally go there and see for yourself.

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