The timing was perfect. Just when one-half of team foodmarks was about to embark on her new journey – that is starting her first job after passing the board exams, we also received our first ever invitation to a bloggers’ lunch to try a new restaurant! Oh my, talk about pure excitement and butterflies in our stomachs. We were so shocked and excited about it that we even had to read the invitation a couple of times so it would sink in. Not only were we thrilled about getting our first invitation, we were overjoyed with the fact it was a Japanese restaurant we had to try!
This would be a lengthy blog entry, and we hope you would read down to the last line. We really want to share with you our wonderful dining experience, and perhaps you would want to try the restaurant with your family and friends!
Specially Made for the Bloggers: Fish roe, Scallop and Shrimp all the way from Hokkaido, Japan
The name of the restaurant is Minori-Tei, which means golden harvest. Situated in First Philippine Industrial Park (Sto. Tomas, Batangas), it primarily caters to Japanese cuisine lovers nearby, Japanese businessmen, and Filipino laborers in the area. The restaurant opened in September this year, and since then it has slowly gained popularity in serving authentic Japanese food at reasonable prices.
The bloggers’ lunch was on a Friday, and we brought along with us our closest college friends namely, Nina, Rae and Camille, and the cousin of Natz, Kuya Boy. We didn’t have a difficult time looking for Minori-Tei restaurant since one of our friends, Camille, is from Batangas, and she knows where FPIP is. Plus, there are several small tarpaulins of Minori-Tei near FPIP so we knew we were not getting lost. We travelled from Las Pinas, and it took us around an hour to get to the place.
We arrived just in time for lunch, as the other bloggers also just arrived. We were greeted by the very warm and enthusiastic owner of Minori-Tei, Mr. William How. He gave us the opportunity to check the whole restaurant, even to enter the kitchen to witness how they prepare the yummy Japanese food they serve.
Minori-Tei offers a very light ambiance – the restaurant has a high ceiling and simple yet elegant interiors, creating a very sophisticated atmosphere. The place is well lighted. And as one of the attendees said, unlike other Japanese restaurants wherein upon entrance, there’s this distinctive smell (not the good one, we guess), Minori-Tei has a good exhaust system so customers don’t have to expect any unpleasant smell as they enter. To add to this, the whole area can be a smoking area, according to the servers.
We truly adore the figurines nicely placed on glass shelves serving as dividers. As also stated in the bloggers’ kit, the ornaments and novelty items in the shop represent the different regions in Japan, hence creating a ‘little Japan’. Too cute, aren’t they?
Are they all cute? Hmmm….
There’s also a sushi bar, where the customers can enjoy watching the chefs preparing delectable sushi using the freshest ingredients.
As mentioned, we were given the chance to enter the kitchen where all the action takes place. The kitchen looks like a typical modern kitchen of a restaurant – clean, with various cooking equipment, with fresh ingredients and packed with passionate chefs. We couldn’t help but feast our eyes on the food they are preparing! Our stomachs can hardly wait!
We were given a blogger’s kit containing the menu for lunch and also a short background of the restaurant. Chef Toshiya Honda, the man behind all the great-tasting food we ate and enjoyed, has made a name of his own as a brilliant chef. He has had several experiences in the culinary industry, such as being an executive Japanese chef in Century Park Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, and also in Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His passion and expertise in Japanese cuisine are definitely showcased in his wonderful food creations served in Minori-Tei. To add to that, he also is in charge of going to the market early in the morning just to get hold of the freshest ingredients to be served to the customers. Talk about passion!
Imagine our excitement when we saw the list of dishes we would be trying! First to be served to us were, of course, the appetizers.
These Japanese beans, called Edamame, became an instant hit at our table! Our friend, Camille, happens to love eating these. The skins of these beans are not meant to be eaten. What you eat are the beans inside, and what you do is you will squeeze the beans until either ends of the skins open. They taste nice! They have a nutty flavor, as if you’re eating soft peanuts. They have got us into thinking, perhaps they would be a healthier snack alternative to potato chips?
We forgot to take a photo before trying it. The presentation was more pretty than that.
Of course, a staple in every Japanese restaurant would be kani salad. It was okay. The ingredients used were also fresh. However, we think there was too much mayonnaise in it. It almost overpowered the other flavors. What we love about this salad is the generous serving of fresh roe. Every bite, you can feel the roe popping!
Next in line was the tofu salad. The sauce was so flavorful and the tofu had the right texture and consistency. We loved the shavings on top, similar to what is usually placed on top of takoyaki balls. We loved how it complemented the tofu and the sauce.
To pair up with our food, Sakewas also served.
These cute tidbits of chicken are called chicken popcorn. They taste good, as if you’re eating tidbits of chicken karaage. They are quite addicting, so beware! Haha!
What would a Japanese restaurant be without sushi and sashimi? And when the different kinds of sushi rolls were served to us, we had a hard time choosing which to try first. They all looked beautiful.
The tempura roll, according to our friends, was excellent. It tasted so delicious that we didn’t even have the chance to try it! Haha! We had to rely on our friends’ descriptions of how it tasted. And we couldn’t argue anymore since the time it took for the dish to be finished proved their testimonies. Perhaps, next time we dine at Minori-Tei, this dish would be our priority order.
Another sushi dish served to us is the California roll. Just like the kani salad, what we loved are the fresh roe (or fish eggs). Other than those, this dish did not really stand out as it tasted pretty much similar to California rolls in other authentic Japanese restaurants.
Meanwhile, the spicy tuna roll tasted so good! The flavor of the star of the dish which is the tuna, blended so well with the other ingredients. The level of spiciness was just right, and it was not overpowering.
Enough with the sushi, next to be served are mix sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish). And again, this dish did not disappoint. There were slices of raw tuna, salmon, squid, and sea urchin. Each slice was so fresh; it almost melted in the mouth.
We’re not really sure what the dish’s name is, but what we are sure of is that this dish was absolutely far from disappointment. Chef Honda was proud to share that the ingredients were really fresh – they were from Hokkaido, Japan and arrived only that morning. It looked, smelled, and tasted so fresh that it seemed as if they were just happily gliding under the sea minutes before they were served to us. As our teeth sunk into the big, pink shrimps, we were simply in awe of the texture and the taste. The shrimps were so tender and creamy. Every bite instantly became a witness to how perfectly fresh they are.
Chef Honda (Right) presenting the special dish with, Operations Manager, Mr. How (Left).
And now we finally proceed to the main entrees! We were already full after enjoying the sushi, sashimi, and other appetizers, but we couldn’t say no to the next dishes as they all looked so appetizing!
When eating at Japanese restaurants, we make it a point to try the teriyaki chicken if there is on the menu. So we were so thrilled when we knew that teriyaki chicken would be served. And when we took a bite of the chicken, we were even happier. The dish was so flavorful. The chicken parts were of the right size, and were perfectly tender. The right blend of sweetness of the teriyaki sauce really stood out and made us crave for more.
Another dish served to us is the tori karaage ( Japanese fried chicken). The chicken parts were also tender, although we loved the teriyaki chicken more since the flavors were more distinct.
Sukiyakiwas served next. It tasted sweet yet delicious. The soup had the right amount of flavor, perfect to accompany the mushrooms, noodles, vegetables, beef, and all other ingredients in the soup.
There’s always room for dessert, right? Served to us were mixed fruits and red bean ice cream. The fruits were a perfect way to cleanse the palate from all the flavors of the previous dishes. And the red bean ice cream was just divine. We loved it so much! It was like eating what’s inside a buchi (sesame balls) but instead the red bean was mixed with the ice cream. DELICIOSO!
We were saddened that we didn’t get the chance to try the other main entrees such as the yakitori mix, ebi tempura, and udon noodles. We didn’t know that only 1 serving is placed on each table, and the said dishes were placed on the side of the table farther to our group. We only realized this when the dishes were all finished. Anyway, there’s always a next time, right?
Some have this misconception that Japanese food are expensive. Minori-Tei is an exception! Looking at the prices on the menu, we think the dishes are priced reasonably and just right! Considering the quality of the food that they serve, the prices are so affordable. Families and friends will surely enjoy dining here since it wouldn’t hurt their wallets that much compared to other restaurants.
From all the pictures and all the things we shared, we’re more than certain that you guys are in envy of our dining experience. Haha! Kidding aside, we definitely enjoyed our dining experience here at Minori-Tei. We truly had a taste of Japan because of the very relaxing ambiance, excellent food, and friendly people. We would surely go back to try the other dishes which we missed!
With the owners: Mr. Wiliam B. How and Mrs. Milagros T. Ong-How
Minori-Tei Japanese Restaurant
Open from 11AM to 3PM, and 5PM to 10PM daily
Contact numbers: (043) 4055791, (043) 4055001, 09175236318
Have you tried Minori-Tei? Are you craving for Japanese food after seeing our post? Share us what you think!
-foodmarks | marking culinary journeys