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MANILA, Philippines – Japan’s famous sukiyaki dish takes on a slightly different but equally tasty form at Inari Sukiyaki, Manila’s first “sukiyaki bar,” where the sukiyaki magic is made right in front of your very eyes!
The small and intimate space is located at the fourth floor of Robinsons Magnolia in Quezon City, featuring a modern and rounded bar, minimalist interiors, and an open kitchen at the center where you’re guaranteed front row seats to Inari’s chefs cooking every sukiyaki donburi fresh and made-to-order.
Nice to meat you
Inari Sukiyaki gets its name from “Inari,” the god of rice, harvest, and foxes in Japanese mythology. “We drew inspiration from that backstory and built it into the brand story. Inari is the god of rice, and our logo the fox is his messenger,” owner Maxine Sanz told Rappler.
Inari Sukiyaki also claims to be a “Kyoto-style sukiyaki bar,” inspired by Maxine and husband Rich’s recent trip to a rural village in Kyoto. There, they fell in love with Kansai Sukiyaki, a different type of sukiyaki that caramelizes the beef in a sukiyaki pot with less liquid than the dish’s mainstream soupy counterpart from Tokyo.
“In Kyoto and Osaka, the beef is first seared in fat while browned, and caramelized in sugar with a little liquid. The vegetables are also cooked with just enough liquid to flavor and soften. This creates an intense beef taste,” Rich said. The couple decided to bring their new favorite hearty dish to Manila, and have Filipino customers enjoy the same premium beef in its simplicity atop Japanese rice, donburi style.
Menu, prices: What to expect
Inari Sukiyaki has a simple menu of three sukiyaki donburi choices; its no-fuss charm matches the restaurant’s laidback but classy ambiance. Most ingredients are sourced from Japan, including a special crystallized sugar that lends a distinct sweetness to the comforting sukiyaki sauce, which is typically made with soy sauce and mirin. Inari’s sukiyaki sauce permeates through all the dish’s components.
You’ll see your Sukiyaki Bowl made from start to finish – you’re presented the raw finely-marbled beef cuts first. The sugar and sauce is cooked down in a hot pan, followed by a careful searing of your choice of beef, and then the addition of vegetables, such as shimeji mushrooms, carrots, leeks, and cabbage. They’re gently and beautifully placed atop a steaming bowl of rice afterwards, and served right at your spot in the bar.
Each Sukiyaki Bowl Set comes with a bowl of beef, Japanese rice, glass noodles, tofu, fish cake, and veggies, plus a soft-boiled egg and miso soup. The soft-boiled egg mixed into the donburi adds a creaminess to the dish, and the miso soup helps to cleanse the palate (although it was a bit too watered down for my liking).
Premium meat is the star of Inari Sukiyaki. You can get the USDA Angus Karubi (P395), cuts of rich, sweet beef with medium strips of fat, with double the beef for P195.
We tried the USDA Angus Misuji (P495), a lean cut of beef that’s tender and soft, with fine marbling and a beefy, umami taste. You can get double the beef for P295. For its price, this was the bang-for-your-buck choice – the meat was completely litid-free with no chewiness; the meat absorbs the tasty sukiyaki broth really well, so each bite is flavorful. It’s a very filling, satisfying, and straight-to-the-point rice bowl.
The splurge-worthy choice is the USDA Angus Ribeye (P945), the “most premium tender cut” of beef with “perfect marbling” that just melts in your mouth, basically. It costs P745 for double the beef. It wasn’t so far away in terms of tenderness versus the Angus Misuji, but you’re getting that deeper, beefier taste here.
Since each bowl really packs on the meat and sukiyaki sauce, I found myself looking for some something light – a pickled or tangy side dish – to cut through the richness.
Inari Sukiyaki also offers a few side dishes and maki, like the Chicken and Mozzarella Kushikatsu (P220) and a crispy Ebi Tempura with Caviar for P380 for four pieces.
The Spicy Tuna Roll was a flavorful explosion of subtle chili powder spice and a sweet-savory sukiyaki sauce, topped with fresh tuna, crispy tempura flakes, ebiko, and spicy Japanese mayo.
“Just like the God of Rice blesses Japan with abundance and flavor, we ensure that each and every bowl served is packed with meaty tenderness and filling broth, nourishing both the body and soul,” Maxine and Rich said.
You can “follow the fox” to Inari Sukiyaki at the 4th level of Public Eatery, Robinsons Magnolia, Aurora Blvd, corner Doña Hemady St, New Manila, Quezon City. The mall is open from 10 am to 10 pm daily.
Inari Sukiyaki is the latest venture of The BBK Group, which is also behind Bibingkinitan, Butternut Bakery, Hey BBK, and more. – Rappler.com