i ate at: yutaka izakaya

"are you hungry?" he asked after greeting me with a kiss.

"did you bring me breakfast?"

"sorry, no."

we drove to the uerm hospital in sta. mesa to deliver the final art and collect payment for the project we'd just finished.

"where do i wait for you?"

"look for that hole-in-the-wall japanese place i was telling you about. it's on the other side so make a U-turn somewhere after CCP."

"CCP? isn't that far---"

"central colleges of the philippines."

"ah. see you later."

i dropped off the FA at the president's office and crossed the street to get to the admin building. while i waited at the treasury office, he called my landline (i use a dual-sim phone).

"i'm here at the jap place. it's actually quite nice inside, and the tea is good," he told me excitedly.

"okay, i'll be there in a bit."

i walked pass the CCP campus and finally get a close-up look at the resto i'd been eyeing for a month.

a pregnant nice-colored cat greeted me at the door.
as in most jap restos, the servers screamed "irrashaimase!" when i slid the door open. it's not a swanky place by any measure, but not quite as seedy as i thought it might be. a waitress immediately came to attend to me but a black clearbook folder that serves as a menu was already at our table. coach sat grinning at a corner, teacup in hand.

"i already ordered some mix sushi. they have authentic chawanmushi here. look at the photo."

"it's too hot for soup. i want either yakisoba or gyoza."

"get both."

so we got both. a few minutes later, a pretty tray of sushi approached our table.

picture muna!

"that's good," he said through a full mouth after taking one of the fish. "the rice is glutinous and well-seasoned. here, you can have the tamago." (i have yet to learn to appreciate the taste of raw fish.)

and it WAS good. just enough vinegar and mirin to give the rice good flavor, and make it the right level of stickiness for sushi. the egg was sweet and folded to a nice thickness. the house tea tasted delicately of rice, sort of like the one served in teriyaki boy, but this didn't have slightly the burnt flavor. it came in wide-rimmed cups of different designs.

the yakisoba i ordered came with miso soup and rice (for some odd reason). slightly greasy (as expected) with flavorful bites of pork, crisp carrots and cabbage. it wasn't quite spicy enough so we asked for some togarashi. mmm! so much better than instant noodles!

we were pretty stuffed by the time the gyoza arrived but we HAD to have some, right? it was okay, it had lots of ginger. but nothing to write home about.

overall, Yutaka Izakaya is a good place to go to for quality, reasonably priced sushi. coach pronounced it "the best sushi i've had in a while" even though he did find a single fish scale in the maguro (looks like the chef needs to sharpen his knives). the slices are generous and hearty, and the tuna had a slightly bloody taste (which coach likes) because of the fleshy cut.

our bill amounted to about 500, excluding drinks because we prefer to drink tea when in jap and chinese restaurants (i think the flavors go better together). they had trouble processing credit card transactions that day so i had to make an atm run over at mezza while coach waited with the cat.

she's a rather nice cat. he's a sometimes-nice boy.
we'd like to go back and try other menu items, but the location is kinda out of the way. then again, we're known to make food pilgrimages (from antipolo to ongpin!). otherwise, commuters can get on the purple line mrt to J Ruiz station and take a short jeepney ride to right in front of the resto.


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