Friday, February 10, 2017

Nanbantei: an excellent barbecue place in Makati

Japanese food is also known for having its unique twist on barbecued dishes. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to try it out at Nanbantei, a Yakitori bar located in the heart of Makati. Most of the menu, unlike their other Nanbantei branches, is heavily focused on the barbecued dishes. I found that more than 20 selections are on a stick, ranging from beef, pork, chicken, and even seafood. 

According to the owners, they use authentic Japanese binchotan charcoal, one that is specifically used for making barbecue. It doesn't burn fast or have ashy residue, unlike ordinary variants. Furthermore, the charcoal provides the dish with a stocky, smoky flavor that is distinct in Nanbantei's skewered favorites. 

We started off with a taste of the Kani salad. This appetizer is the usual Crabstick on top of lettuce, mango chunks, and pink mayo, with carrots to boot. It had a mix of a sweet and sour taste. It was accompanied by  the ubiquitous California Maki, which was one of the typical Japanese sushi variants in a restaurant. I don't like sushi, so I can't speak for the quality of the dish. Lastly, we had the Ebi Nigiri. This was a simple variant composed of shrimp atop a rice ball.  I found it quite plain to the taste.

The next selections were much more appetizing. The skewered meals were served hot and fresh off the grill. We started with the Tebasaki. It was a generous helping of chicken wings grilled to perfection. It had a simple marinade, which was not too tasty. Yet the meat itself was tender easy to chew off the bones. We followed up with the Ebi Tempura, which I would say is the best dish to boot in the restaurant. It was the classic fried shrimp with breading; yet this was done with so much excellence. The breading was crispy and crunchy. The shrimp meat was hot and well-fried. 

We then went on to more ambitious dishes. We tried the Aspara Maki, which was pork wrapped on asparagus. It was grilled perfectly, with no burnt edges on the pork. The mix was pretty tasty too. It had this smoky, bitter flavor which gave a garlicky kick. Add to that the juices and fat trimmings, and you have a grilled winner. A solid follow-up was the Shiitake Maki, which was shiitake mushroom wrapped with fatty beef strips. I enjoyed the juicy and tender textures of the mushroom and beef. It also had the smoky, bitter flavor due to the charcoal used.

Another fried favorite was the tori karaage. This Japanese style fried chicken was not too oily for the palate plus it had a crisp and juicy texture.  The servings were also generous. However, I didn't quite enjoy the Ebi Kushi Yaki, which were grilled shrimps. I believe that it had to have more flavor. Plus the shrimps weren't quite fresh. This was compensated by the baby squid or the Yaki Ika. This grilled seafood was pretty generous and fresh at the same time. 

We then ended the main course by having 3 of their skewered bestsellers. The first was the pork yakiniku. This grilled favorite was composed of juicy pork strips grilled with the fat in the strips. The marinade plus the charcoal gave it a full-bodied flavor. I paired this with the Chicken Yakitori, which were composed of chicken chunks freshly grilled. It had an excellent smoky taste too. The most memorable was the beef yakiniku, which was composed of thin beef strips grilled well. It was dripping with its marinade when served. Plus, the beef was served with a golden brown color which made it all the more appetizing. 

We ended the meal with their house special: the avocado ice cream. It was not too sweet and easy on the palate. It was a fitting way to end a hefty experience. 

Nanbantei is truly one of the best kept secrets at the heart of Makati.

Nanbantei Yakitori Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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