March 18, 2013

A Hidden Teppanyaki Treasure

A craving satiated with an unexpected abundance of a favorite cuisine.

It was a long overdue schedule that was planned since last year. Still, it didn’t stop me to finalize a date with the ever so gracious people of Diamond Hotel. I sincerely anticipated my Japanese lunch, eager to try the teppanyaki buffet at their famous Yurakuen.

Oddly, I’ve craved strongly for Japanese food since the start of the year. Once in a while, I discover a new Japanese resto, or revisit some of my old favorites to satisfy my appetite. Surprisingly, my trip to Yurakuen became one the highlights for the first quarter of the year.

First on the table were big portions of assorted sushi and sashimi, served with my favorite miso soup. Of course, I requested for a glass of cold green tea to begin my lunch. I must say that the serving was more than enough and I was delighted to take my first few bites. All were fresh and I would have had more if I wasn’t saving space in my tummy for the teppanyaki lunch ahead. I was with my dear friend LA Ferriols and little did we know that an overwhelmingly tasty menu was being prepped for us. 

In front of us were three different sauces specifically for the types of food that will be served: ponzu or lemon sauce with soy sauce on the far right for the seafood; miso sauce in the middle for the vegetables; garlic sauce and soy sauce on the left for the red meat. 

The chef made his way to the teppanyaki table and started to pour oil on the hot table. I knew we were in for a culinary exhibition so I had my camera ready. He first got a small plate filled with giant scallops. I was amused to hear the popping sound as the scallops touched the hot surface of the teppanyaki table. I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the scallops since those are my favorite. White wine was splashed on the scallops creating a small flame. It was juicy and my fear of it being overcooked disappeared after my first bite.

Next on the menu were two big squids. I’ve observed that Yurakuen pulls out all the stops and only prepeares the freshest catch. The serving made me love my lunch more since it was quite hefty.

My friend LA wanted a taste of Japanese fried rice prepared in front of us. In a few minutes, diced carrots and small shrimps were placed on the teppanyaki table. Afterwards, the chef made a little exhibition of breaking the egg into the teppanyaki table. I was so eager to catch the performance of sorts that I forgot to take a photo of the delish fried rice! Still, my palette was happy with it.



Vegetables were next and it was the first time for me to see the gray-knotted jelly made of vegetables. I didn’t even ask what it was made of but I was really curious with how it tasted. It was cooked beside the giant shitake mushrooms, followed by asparagus, carrots, enoki mushrooms, and other veggies.


Thinking that we’ve already had enough, cuts of sirloin was brought out from the kitchen. I was close to being full but I knew that lunch wasn’t over. It was steak-flambe! A big flame emerged after red wine was splashed on the meat. Pieces of fried garlic were added giving an enticing aroma to the dish.


Deviating from the usual tempura, we were served shrimps splashed again with white wine. The ponzu brought out more flavor to the shrimps as I enjoyed munching on its soft, succulent meat. It was cooked just right!

I thought desserts were supposed to be served last but the coup de grace of the lunch was the inoki mushroom wrapped in bacon. I was pretty full but the aroma of the bacon being cooked on the teppanyaki table made me forget how full I already was. It was bliss! I could have had another serving if only my tummy had extra space still.

Hidden in a far corner of The Diamond Hotel, this Japanese resto is definitely a treasure worth unearthing. The dining area is a romantic and cozy room, fit for a quiet dinner for two or a fun family gathering. The interiors of Yurakuen emulate a traditional Japanese ambiance with its steel cherry blossom trees and high ceiling. The room is seemingly shrouded, encapsulated in a lush virgin forest. One one side, a majestic waterfall is on the backdrop, transporting one to a scene from one of those stylized settings seen only in movies.


I definitely would go back to reawaken my craving for Japanese cuisine at Yurakuen!

Yurakuen, Diamond Hotel
Roxas Boulevard cor. Dr. J. Quintos St., Manila

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