I’m a picky eater but I always get excited whenever I get the chance to taste a foreign country’s cuisine or food from different parts of the Philippines. I’m always willing to try out food I’ve never had before as long as there’s no frogs, snakes, rats, alligators or other weird or exotic ingredients involved. Don’t expect me to open my mouth and say ‘ahh’ to that.
Living in a small city where there is only a small number of restaurants that offers cuisines from countries other than the Philippines is kinda sad for people like me who enjoys trying out different food from different countries. For me, being able to get a taste of a country’s cuisine is an exciting experience because not only do I no longer have to wonder what those food tastes like, I sometimes get to learn something about a country just by tasting their food.
One of the very few restaurants in the city that offers non-Filipino food is Sakurajima Japanese Restaurant. I’ve heard of this restaurant before and I’ve passed by the area a couple of times but I’ve never dined there before. However, a chance to finally experience dining there has come and here are my honest thoughts about the restaurant.
According to the information available on Google, the restaurant is supposed to be open at 11:00 AM but when we got there it was still closed. We were waiting outside in the scorching heat of the sun. We could see them preparing in the open kitchen and some of the staff saw us but none of them bothered to come to us and invite us to get inside and take a seat while we wait for the restaurant to open.
As soon as the restaurant opened, we went inside and we were asked where we wanted to dine. They had a dining area in front of the open kitchen and the upstairs dining area. We decided to eat upstairs where we can have a little bit more privacy and some peace and quiet because I wasn’t really keen on dining while hearing the rattling noise of the pots and other kitchen utensils coming from their kitchen.
Before we head upstairs, we were asked to take off our shoes and put on the slippers they provided. Good thing I wasn’t wearing a pair of sneakers so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of putting them back on for when we leave.
The interior of the upstairs dining area was nice and it felt like I was in a traditional Japanese restaurant. There were six tables and each table is good for 4-6 people. We decided to take the table in the corner with a small shelf adorned with some pretty Japanese ornaments. It was hot when we got there. I just brushed it off thinking that it’s because the AC had just been switched on and it will get colder after a couple of minutes. The temperature did drop a bit but I can hardly feel the cold. Some beads of sweat still formed on my forehead during our stay there. I was too shy to ask the staff to turn the AC up a bit. One of them did turn it up later on but it was still kinda hot. It was like being in a room with a fan that’s blowing warm air. But thanks to the cold cucumber lemonade, I didn’t feel as hot as when we first came in.
After taking a few pictures, we started to scan through their menu and ordered food. We ordered gyoza, salmon sashimi, california maki rolls and a bowl of tonkotsu ramen. My first impression upon seeing the prices is that some of their food was a tad bit more expensive than other Japanese restaurants I’ve been to but some were cheaper. I couldn’t wait to get our food and find out if it lived up to its price. The serving time was quite fast. Our food was served a couple minutes after we ordered.
When the gyoza was served, I got kinda confused because I didn’t remember ordering any pancakes. I didn’t know what gyoza was but I was told that it was fried dumplings so imagine how confused I was when I saw what looked like a large pancake. It was tasty although the taste is similar to Chinese dumplings or Korean dumplings.
I’ve never had sashimi before. The thought of eating raw fish kinda grosses me out but I decided to give it a try. It didn’t have any strange after-taste and the texture was soft. I didn’t have problems chewing it. It actually tasted good, way better than what I had imagined. I imagined it would taste like how uncooked fish smells like: bloody, stinky and gross. Hahaha! My friend did point out though that it wasn’t as tasty as the ones she had in other Japanese restaurants and that the color was slightly different but it was good.
The california maki rolls were good. Nothing special. It tasted just like the ones I’ve tried before. The rice wasn’t too dry or too soggy. It was just right. The mango bits were sweet which I like because I’ve experienced eating california maki rolls with slightly sour-tasting mango bits and it just didn’t taste good. I don’t have any complaints about the taste but presentation could be better. The rolls were looking pretty sad.
I enjoyed the tonkotsu ramen. It was pretty decent for the price. I liked how soft the pork was. It was so easy to chew and swallow. Although I prefer my boiled eggs well done, I really didn’t mind that some parts of the egg’s yolk was still soft and slightly liquid-y. However, the texture of the noodles was a bit weird but the ramen was still delicious nevertheless.
What I liked:
- It’s easily accessible
- There’s parking space
- Nice minimalist interior
- Serving size is good
- Nice selection of food
- Prices are reasonable
- Dining areas are spacious and not cramped
- The dishes we’ve tried were good
What I didn’t like / what could be improved:
- It was hot. The AC wasn’t capable of keeping the upstairs dining area cold.
- The presentation of some food was so-so.
- The texture of the ramen noodles was kinda weird.
- The food was good but there was no WOW! factor.
- The menu had no description of the dishes. First timers who have no idea about Japanese food would appreciate it if there were descriptions and mouthwatering photos. People might also end up ordering food that has certain ingredients that they’re allergic to like shrimp.
Total Amount Spent: P820
Overall, I’m gonna give this restaurant a 3 or 3.5 stars out of 5. Will I go back there? Sure, why not? I’d love to try other food from their menu. I personally think the food was good. It was pretty decent and reasonably priced. It wasn’t cheap but it was still affordable. I hope that when I come back next time, the AC will be powerful enough to keep the place cold. I think it would be better to go there in the evening when it’s not that hot. I’m not sure about the authenticity of the taste of the food but if you’re not particular about that and you feel like trying something different, this restaurant is worth a try!
Sakurajima Japanese Restaurant
Filindia Arcade, Brgy. 59Picas, Sagkahan, Tacloban City
Monday – Sunday
11:30 AM – 2:30 PM
5:30 PM – 9:30 PM