Where to get these 9 delicious chirashi sushi bowls in Manila
MANILA, Philippines – It's a staple at most Japanese restaurants – the chirashi don, or assorted pieces of fish over a bed of sticky white rice. It's a thing of beauty, with its bright colors and its premium pieces of seafood carefully arranged and layered in a bowl. And many judge a Japanese restaurant by the quality of its chirashi bowl, which can tell a lot about how a restaurant keeps its fish and makes its rice.
More often than not, the chirashi bowl comes with staples like tuna, salmon, squid, tamago (sweet egg), crab sticks. The best ones come with a variety of octopus, mackerel, eel, and uni, or sea urchin, often an acquired taste, but once you fall for its buttery, earthy, briny flavor, it arrests you and never lets you go.
Some bowls also come with tobiko, or fish roe, pickled daikon radish, denbu, a pinkish, sweet mix of cod and sugar, and shitake mushrooms.
To judge your chirashi bowl, look at the color and texture of the fish. It shouldn't have a strong fishy odor, and the fish should be soft – not rock hard from the freezer or watery, as if it weren't done thawing out.
"Standards for other species vary, but in general, luster and shine indicate freshness, while drooping and browning at the edges are signs of fatigue," writes William Grimes for the New York Times.
I've been ordering chirashi dons left and right at any number of Japanese restaurants over the last couple of years. Here are the best ones I've had so far.
Undoubtedly, I'm missing a few key bowls from favorites like Seryna and Tsukiji, which I haven't been able to photograph. When I have more, I'll add them to this list – and feel free to send us photos of your favorite chirashi bowls so I can add them to this list, too.
Izakaya Kikufuji, P568
The restaurant is packed at peak hours; come a little earlier or a little later to find a spot more quickly. But once you're seated and settled, the food does come quickly, and boy, is this chirashi worth the trip. Though perhaps not as packed as others, the fish is firm and of great quality – not runny or slimy at all.
2277 Pasong Tamo, Don Chino Roces Avenue, Legazpi Village, Makati City
Nihonbashi Tei, P380
QC-based folks will be happy to know that Nihonbashi Tei now has a branch right along Tomas Morato, offering more dishes at great value. This chirashi lunch set comes with salad and ice coffee, and while the selection is standard, the price, at P380, can't be beat.
281 Tomas Morato Avenue, Quezon City
In my limited dining experience, this is the most diverse and varied chirashi bowl I've encountered so far. For P535, you get a slice each of tuna, salmon, hamachi, tako (octopus), squid, egg, shrimp, aji (salay-salay), sea urchin, grouper, yellowjack, sea bass, and mackerel – that's a lot.
For P940, you can get a different version of this chirashi bowl, with imported fish.
141 Sedeno Street Salcedo Village, Makati
Marufuku rarely disappoints, and it's located along San Miguel Avenue, which makes it a short walk from a good number of Pasig offices. The components are not as plentiful as the ones from other restaurants, but they are of great quality and if you order to share, you can also enjoy the other can't-miss items on the menu like the Marufuku Roll (read more about that here), or this beauty, the Kaki Motoyaki, Hiroshima oysters under a bed of thick miso and mayo sauce (P290):
Ground Floor, Crescent Building, 29 San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig
There's a special place in my heart and belly for Haru, and its wonderful chirashi don. The menu is extensive and can be overwhelming, but you can do no wrong if you stick to the sushi and sashimi, particularly the chirashi don and the dynamite roll (more on that here).
The dish includes salmon, tuna, uni, ebi, blue marlin, mackerel, kani (crab stick), and grouper or snapper.
21 West Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City, beside Cafe Juanita
Washoku de Azabu, P680
Pricier than most – many of the items on the Washoku menu are most definitely premium, but they don't skimp on the ingredients and components, from the salmon roe to the tasty, distinct mackerel.
BTTC Center, 288 Ortigas, Corner Roosevelt Avenue,Greenhills, San Juan
At P410, this bowl, relative to the others, is great value for money and includes the basics, plus a dollop of uni.
Ground floor, The Commerce Center, 1780 Commerce Corner Filinvest Avenue, Muntinlupa
A sister restaurant to Kessaku, Yumi is quiet and understated. Tucked up in the corner next to the movie theater near the Promenade in Greenhills, it's easy to miss. Come for the chirashi moriawase, very similar to Kessaku's.
On this menu, you can choose from other varieties of chirashi – chirashi tekka P430 (tuna-based), chirashi ikura sake P495 (salmon-based), and chirashi ikura tokuji, P515 (salmon with uni). But the chirashi moriawase, though it comes with the heftiest price tag, also comes with the most variety.
The Promenade, Greenhills
Toki special chirashi set, P800, regular, P700
There are plenty of restaurants in Taguig, but Toki remains a popular option for Japanese fare. Come for lunch so you can get the special chirashi (including unagi or eel) for P800, including a side of pickles and dessert, plus miso soup. If you don't want the unagi, you can get the regular lunch set for P700, and if you come in the evening, without the set promo, the bowl comes at a hefty P980.
Second floor of the 32nd & 5th Building, 32nd Street Corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City
What's your favorite sushi/sashimi spot in your area? Do you have a go-to spot for chirashi? Let us know in the comments below. – Rappler.com
Prices as of September 2015