Thursday, April 13, 2017

Yokocho at Victory Food Mall, a large-scale Japanese food court in the South

Baclaran is commonly known for its vast expanse of retail clothing stores. However, it also boasts of one of its newest notable attractions: Yokocho, meaning "side of the road". This well-kept gem is a vast expanse of 10 restaurants in a food court serving various Japanese specialties, totaling 40 percent of mainstream Japanese cuisine. Under the auspices of Ms. Cindy Dominguez and Ms. Bambi Flores, I was able to try out this new joint!

The place was situated in the 3rd floor of Victory Food Mall, Baclaran. The entire space was dedicated to making quality Japanese food at highly affordable prices. Upon arriving, I was enthralled at the effort the owners took at decorating the place to make it look like a legit Japanese village. There were lots of banners and lanterns in Japanese. Also, the decor, tables, and the stalls were made out of wood. Some of the owners of the stalls were Japanese, for that authentic taste.

The place is right beside Baclaran church. This is truly strategic for the foodcourt since a lot of people go to the iconic church throughout the week. It can truly cater to more than 250 diners at any given time. 

The prices were very reasonable for a Japanese restaurant. A lot of the ingredients are sourced from Japan; however, some ingredients were appropriated from local sources since these were cheaper and were akin to the taste and quality of authentic Japanese dishes.

The drinks place had a wide assortment of sake; but it only offered Kirin canned beer and Sapporo draft beer.

This place was known for its Soba or cold noodles, served in gigantic porcelain bowls.

Tanemiya's specialties were ramen and gyoza.

The furniture was all wood! Even the lanterns. 

Buta-senka serves Yakitori and rice meals. It also serves a humongous pork hot pot called the Buta Bara Nabe. 

This was Tanemiya's menu. Note that they serve more than 10 varieties of ramen.

This place had Sukiyaki and Yakiniku for specialties. 

Yokocho is run by Jake Akazawa (right), a half Filipino who spent most of his life in Japan. Upon returning to the Philippines, he opened Yokocho under the name of Japan Food Ventures, a corporation he started with his business partners. His food consultant is the veteran chef named Keita Kamimoto (left), who has a wealth of experience running restaurants in Japan.

Jake partnered with restaurants in Japan in order to bring their specialties here in the Philippines. All 10 brands are all open in different parts of Japan such as Tokyo and Nagasaki. Given this fact, you can be rest assured that the dishes are served with high regard for Japanese preparation and quality.

This place had a wide variety of rice meals. 

Ramen Chidori also served crepes, aside from the usual ramen.

Chef Keita with some of Yokocho's excellent cooks.

The Pork Yakitori was comprised of 10 servings of skewered pork dipped in a pretty sweet marinade. I enjoyed devouring an entire stick due to the tasty sauce and the tender pork chunks.

The Japanese chicken dish was comprised of a chicken thigh cooked in a sweet, sugary brown sauce. While a bit small, the flavor justified the price. The sauce was quite tangy.

The Karaage, apart from being generously served, had a truly crispy breading and tender meat. I must say that finishing a piece was not difficult due to the tasty Japanese recipe made on the chicken.

The Buta Bara Nabe or Pork Hotpot was being prepared here. The Php 380 price justified the size. 

Ah the Tempura lived up to Japanese standards with Philippine prices to boot. The breading was very crispy, while the shrimp was fresh. I enjoyed eating a piece because the shrimp meat was soft and tasty.

The Okonomiyaki or Japanese pancake was a thick layered dish with a bread crust, fried cabbage, mayonnaise, fishflakes, and seaweed. I took a bite and found it to be quite sumptuous.

The Yakisoba was the quintessential fried Japanese noodles. It was a generous serving of the fried noodles itself with a variety of toppings such as cabbage, leeks, and meat. 

The California Maki was served in generous quantities. It was a perfect match with Kikkoman soy sauce.

The cooks were hard at work preparing our gyoza and ramen. 

The sushi came in different cuts and flavors.

The gyoza was served fresh and hot. Every bite had a rich and full flavor of fried ground beef. It was served with a chili soy sauce and leek toppings. 

This ramen variant had a helping of toasted mozzarella cheese. The cheese topping did seem to accentuate the broth flavor. 

This one was called the Buta Yaki. It had a topping of thinly cut pork strips and sauteed onions atop steaming hot rice. I loved the pork for being tender and easy on the bite. The thin strips accentuated the texture and the taste. 

The Buta Bara Nabe was prepared for cooking on the spot.

One stall even had the traditional Japanese rice cakes. 

This was a serving of Buta Yaki albeit with a bigger helping and on a plate. 

The owners of the crepe stall demonstrated the making of a crepe. 

The Karubi Donburi had a big fried egg on top of stir fried beef slices. The beef was quite sweet due to the marinade.

The Sukiyaki nabe was their version of beef stew. It had thinly sliced beef strips cooked on a sweet marinade and topped with assorted vegetables. The beef had a sweet taste and was pretty tender too.

The ramen selection was a blast! These were served piping hot and with a variety of top notch ingredients. The Bantan-men was the one I enjoyed the most because of the large pork strip which covered the entire bowl. Each had a helping of Bokchoi and Seaweed, which definitely added a variety of vegetable tastes to every dish.

Kimuchi Soba Cold was an admirable display of noodles. Surely, a single person can't finish that. I enjoyed taking the kimchi slices while dipping them over the black sauce. 

Dai Inari Gozen was also soba albeit with gyoza for toppings. 

The Gyutan Donburi was perfect with lettuce wrappings. This serving of beef strips, in ultra small pieces, served as an enticing snack. 

I had the mango crepe. This was composed of fresh mangoes atop vanilla ice cream, syrup, and crepe. Every bite was sweetness galore. 

The curry rice was shaped in the face of Hello Kitty. I liked the sauce for being mild and tasty. Every sip was did not possess the strong curry taste. Instead, it had a light tangy flavor that was perfect with meat.

The meal was great with Kirin Ichiban, a leading beer brand. It wasn't as bitter as our local beers; yet it gave a full bodied flavor. 

I enjoyed the strawberry crepe for its excellent design and the overload of the fruit with every bite. The ice cream accentuated the flavor by providing a creamy addition to the meal. 

For affordable Japanese delicacies and meals, go to Bacalaran's best kept secret, Yokocho. It is located at Victory Food Mall, Baclaran, beside Baclaran church. It is open from 11am to 10pm, Mondays to Sundays. You can visit their FB at

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