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.

Or more specifically… Sashimi!

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.

The downfall with a sushi addiction is the inevitable pains the wallet feels. Good sushi does not come cheap… Or so we thought.
Enter Nihonbashi Tei

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.

The main indicators of good Japanese cuisine boil down to the following:
  • 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.
So all three were achieved in Nihonbashi Tei. Since L was new to the place, and J only goes there to drink their cold beer (they’re open til 2a), I donned the menuist hat and ordered the goods:
Presenting: Shake (Salmon) Sashimi
First of all, their salmon or shake is so fresh and well marbled, it literally melts in your mouth. The cuts are quite substantial so you never feel scrimped on.

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.

When I was younger and Saisaki was the name for Jap cuisine, I started a love affair with Uni sushi which also died in Saisaki when I ate some rancid sea urchins which caused me to have a 10year hate affair with the brown stuff. When I started diving and found all these black prickly beauties underwater, I knew I was back in love, even going as far as to capture some urchins and dump them into a cooler for me to take home and crack open in my kitchen. My kitchen stank up. I will never attempt to procure my own Uni again.

They have a very wide selection of sashimi to choose from, they even have horse! Hotate (scallops) are also great to try.

I’m more of a purist when it comes to makis… but this never fails to make my happy:
Toro Spicy Maki
Leave it to the Japanese to move adjectives and nouns around… but it wont matter because this spicy roll is the ultimate indulgence to flavor. Chunky toro (fatty tuna) doused with spicy something (I’m guessing sriracha) rolled up in rice and topped with more toro plus tempura bits equals one fat flavor bite.
Asari Butter Clams

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?

Now there were other orders, such as Ramen and Katsu Kare, but I always enjoy the classics:
Just look at the heaping serving of green tea noodles in their Cha Soba. It could feed three carb hungry fools such as us and still leave room for taste tests. The best part about the soba is the sauce, with a little condiment tray with the usual quail egg, nori, scallions and wasabi to personalize the taste profile of the dipping sauce. When the soba is swirled around in the sauce for a while, the flavor intensifies leaving the soba more enjoyable.

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.

And their servings are bigger.
And the head server is even Japanese.
And they are open til 2am
And they don’t use celebrity pseudo-names for their rolls
And they’re just authentic.

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.

Nihonbashi Tei 
Pasay Road cor. Amorsolo St.
Makati City
+632 818 8893