Lately, my dive crew and I have been getting chummier than ever, meeting more than once a dive to rehash dives and plan trips and whatnot. Of course what do I do best but to introduce my beloved divers to the wonders of the sea… seafood that is.
Now here’s the thing… everyone needs to be discerning when it comes to the raw fish craving. I’ve had one too many experiences where an ingested piece of sushi means a weekend glued to the toilet. Or when biting on a piece ofshake sashimi feels like licking a popsicle, you know it’s been sitting on the freezer longer than it should be kept fresh.
Nihonbashi Tei is a Japanese joint in Makati by Pasay Rd. Its entrance is lit up like a karaoke studio which makes it impossible to miss. The interiors are nondescript, as if to insinuate that they don’t care about the ambiance as much as the food, but props for the staff because they always seem uppity scurrying around greeting diners and getting the orders.
- Menu: If they don’t have descriptions or English translations in the menu, they know you know what to order. If you don’t understand, they don’t really give a damn and you just have to ask the servers (who are all well versed in Nippongo)
- Alcohol: Sake bottles line the top of the sushi bar, and their beer selection is quite extensive and cheap. Score.
- Crowd: If you’re the only non-Japanese in the joint, it must be good.
Speaking of scrimping, I think Nihon has a monopoly on Uni (sea urchin) because for P165, you get a heaping scoopful of fresh Uni that just glides smooth with creaminess sans the nasty stink which has been a staple at faux sushi spots.
They have a very wide selection of sashimi to choose from, they even have horse! Hotate (scallops) are also great to try.
J and L were both skeptical at my next order, but again Nihonbashi Tei has converted their food hesitation into jubilation: I don’t remember how much this dish was, but if you divide that amount by the clam count I’m positive it will have a 2:1 ratio or somewhere in the vicinity, because this is a big dish! Clams have a tendency to smell, well, clammy. The presence of butter and asari (whatever that is) and secret sauce + scallions makes for some tasty finger food. You must use your bare hands because you need to use the shell to scoop out the sauce on the bottom of the dish to heighten the flavor experience. It’s as if lemon butter and seafood stock were reduced in some very good sake. Am I close?
And their Gyoza. Ahh…. Usually i like my dishes wrapped in wanton to hold thru a chopstick experience, but these dumplings are so delicate you have to be careful not to clamp them too hard or the filling might pop out. But whatever lightness they have in composition, pales in comparison to the complexity of the flavors found in the complementing lettuce, pork and bits of tiny veggies. Their sauce, I believe, plays a big factor, but melt in your mouth comes to mind every time.
I’ve stopped going to other Japanese places because it’s just not worth it. The high-end ones such as Sugi are still special places, but I can get the same quality sushi at Nihonbashi Tei for peanuts compared to their prices. And Teriyaki Boy, Misato, and all the other Japanese chains with their econopricing are getting a run for their money, because Nihon serves up Grade A seafood at the same prices.
Eat your hearts out.
After I brought dive-ys there, J has been back at least twice, ordering the Toro Spicy Maki. My my, how influential my stomach has become.