It was Friday night and we were looking for a new place to go to celebrate the end of a busy week, when one of my friends suggested trying out Bistro Miyake, a Japanese restaurant that had recently opened along Annapolis Street in Greenhills. The name itself intrigued us – bistro is a casual French eatery, after all, and not at all connected with Japanese cuisine – and we all loved Japanese food, so we gamely agreed. Besides, location-wise it was a good compromise since it was halfway between the office and home for most of us.
We liked Bistro Miyake from the outset. It was warm and inviting, but also refreshingly modern, especially compared to the typical Japanese restaurants in Metro Manila that preferred traditional wooden interiors and waitresses in kimonos. And for a new restaurant, it was certainly busy when we arrived. There were some guys excitedly talking about basketball by the bar, several couples in the tables alongside the wall, and two large families with elderly grandparents in tow. Outside, the bistro had seating for smokers and diners who preferred al fresco, and the place was almost completely taken up by young people having sushi and cocktails.
We secured a table by the window inside and my friend Billy, a certified Japanophile, took over the ordering.
“We’ve got to have the California maki and the chawan mushi (steamed egg custard),” he began. And then he rattled off a series of Japanese terms which I assumed meant a whole lot of delicious food.
The California maki arrived first -- colorful rice rolls generously covered in bright orange fish roe and looking almost to good to eat. We prodded each other to take the first bite. But when we each had a mouthful, we ended up fighting over the last pieces. Juicy bits of mango and crab blended excellently with mayonnaise.
Then came assorted sashimi, including uni (sea urchin) sashimi, a personal favorite for its rich taste. Usually, restaurants scrimp on this precious ingredient because it’s so pricey. Bistro Miyake’s version, however, was fresh and heavy on the uni. The salmon sashimi too was obviously a recent catch, judging from its beautiful color.
“You know what they say about salmon sashimi,” my friend JonJon quipped. “You can never have too much of it.” Not exactly a profound statement, but we certainly all agreed.
About six or seven other dishes came and went very quickly, most with much praise for the creativity of the chef and the beauty of presentation. Some dishes, however, stood out in my mind. The chawan mushi, of course, was wonderful – a tasty steamed egg flan containing a delightful surprise of chicken and shrimp. It was the perfect hot pairing for platefuls of raw fish. We also loved the salmon wasabi with cream sauce – a juicy salmon fillet was baked and then topped with a spicy cream sauce full of chopped vegetables. The seafood omelet rice was also a big winner for its delicious taste and impressive presentation. A thin sheet of omelet was fashioned into a box and filled with seafood rice flavored with tomato sauce. It was the perfect ending to a sumptuous meal.
However, the biggest surprise was probably the bill. We’d ordered a feast and, yet, for an upscale Japanese restaurant, the cost was relatively reasonable.
As we left the restaurant, Billy said, “That’s one of the most satisfying meals I’ve had in a long time. If we had dinner like this every Friday, I think the week would go a whole lot faster.”
We couldn’t have agreed more.
Unit 101, Intrawest Building
33 Annapolis St., Greenhills
San Juan City
Tel. 7219793, 44849339
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