Last week, I was glad to find my Little Tokyo in the culinary wonderland that is the South of Manila. It was even good enough to transport me back to our time in Osaka where okonomiyaki and simple things like skewered asparagus with pesto sauce all tasted divine.
Kushiten Yakitori and Kushiage is a cozy nook (almost like a hole in the wall) along President’s Avenue, just a few steps away from my other favorite Japanese place, Kenji Tei. I get baffled by the name and only tried this place because of someone else’s recommendation. Kushi refers to skewers (think barbecue sticks!) while ten means the sky or the heavens. Yakitori refers to grilled chicken while kushiage is deep-fried food that’s skewered. There goes our learning Nihongo 101:)
We met Kushiten’s young, twenty-something owners PJ and Kat Dacuycuy. But is Kathleen or Kat, a half-Japanese, who is the real whiz in the kitchen. Upon her recommendation, we tried the yasai okonomiyaki. At only P90 per order, it wasn’t hefty like the one we tasted in Osaka but very delicious. Soft vegetable pancakes drizzled with savory sauce, Japanese mayo and bonito flakes. Hands down, this is my favorite out of all those I tasted anywhere in Manila. I won’t hesitate to have this again.
The Chizu Spam Maki (P65 a piece and bigger than I imagined) was another delight. The menu describes this as Spam sandwich, Japanese style. Rice wrapped in nori with cheese, veggies, a slice of Spam and a most tasty dressing.
The grilled items on the menu are still the main event. At Kushiten, I think the secret is all in the sauce. The exquisite sauce makes me crave for Japanese barbecue and ask for more. Never mind that sauce plus pork belly fat transports me to foodie heaven as in the case of this buta aspara (pork with asparagus (P45 an order).
One of my daughters chose the set meal consisting of one stick momo yakitori (chicken red meat) and one stick buta bara (pork belly). Bbq plus rice plus a glass iced tea for only P109…. unbelievable! and unbelievably good. We certainly hope to have more family meals here. Not only because we all love our barbecue but Kushiten removes the dreaded word “costly” from dining out.
The tsukune, Japanese chicken meatballs served in the style of yakitori, was another revelation.It wasn’t as juicy as I thought maybe because white chicken meat was used. But still I liked its sauce and degree of doneness.
Kushiten’s young owners should be credited for keeping their food prices as low as possible just so diners can satisy their Japanese food cravings (there is another good Japanese resto in BF, Hanakazu, but I shy away from it because an order of rice costs P90!) I think the most expensive item on the menu is the tempura (P199) and the hot bowl of sukiyaki but it’s good for three persons already. It also helps that the owner-chef herself mans the kitchen so we can be assured of good quality Japanese fare. Needless to say, it is food businesses like Kushiten which I want to see succeed and I can only wish that the dining public discovers it more.
Kushiten Yakitori & Kushiage
11 President’s Avenue
BF Homes, Paranaque City
Open from 5pm onwards
For orders, call: 0916 4501144, 0922 9871240
See also my other food posts about dining in the South of Manila: