Little Tokyo Series: Hana Restaurant

by posted on Mon, 25 Jan 2010 12:00 AM

Away from the towering skyscrapers and busy shopping malls that characterize the much of Makati’s landscape, there is a mini-district at the heart of Chino Roces (formerly Pasong Tamo) that is a treasure-trove of authentic Japanese eats. Deceptively simple and unassuming, Little Tokyo starts off by greeting curious visitors with a sign that reads its name on an Oriental arc. Once you enter, though, it’s like being transported straight to Japan. So bring out the foodie in you and head to one of the more-overlooked areas of the city; it’s bound to be a rewarding experience. Itadakimasu!



Hana Restaurant
Good food, relaxed ambiance and friendly service. This is Hana.

I’ve always held a fascination for hole-in-the-wall finds, that’s why I’ve been meaning to visit Little Tokyo for the longest time. This quaint district in Pasong Tamo, Makati is gradually becoming famous through word-of-mouth for its authentic Japanese restaurants and bars – and yes, an atmosphere that feels like a setting taken right out of suburban Tokyo. But for some reason it was only recently that I managed to go there. When I did, though, I was rewarded with a great dining experience and a quick realization that my long wait was definitely worth it.





My colleague and I went to Little Tokyo for a late lunch, so most of the establishments were closed (they evidently open at night). We decided to try Hana, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the modest and unassuming façade gave way to a cozy interior that was effortlessly intimate and homey. There were about four or five tables, with a traditional Japanese table at the end of the room, and an open kitchen at the side. The muted yellow lamps overhead casted a warm glow to the place, and a series of photos depicting Japanese baseball players decorated the walls. A number of Nihongo newspapers sat in one corner, and a TV airing a local Japanese channel was perched in another. If it wasn’t for the conversations in Filipino at our neighboring tables, I would have almost thought we were in Japan!



Considering that we were already past hungry (read: starving) at the time, we were really grateful that they served our food fast, but no less delicious. We decided on Sukiyaki (P290) and, because the staff beamingly recommended Cubic Steak (P390) too, we gave that a go as well.


Sukiyaki


The sukiyaki had a generous portion of meat strips, side by side with vegetables and tofu. It had just the right mix of flavors, and everything on the plate had a delightfully soft texture.


Cubic Steak




The cubic steak had little blocks of meat – as the name of the dish implies – on a base of hash brown. The meat was surprisingly tender, and the subtle taste of the potato complimented that.



Our order already came with two bowls of rice, miso soup, and glasses of milk tea for both of us.

It may be because of the sumptuous meal, or the casual feel of the place, or the warm service extended to us, but for me, I can associate visiting Hana with how I feel when spending a lazy weekend – I take the time to savor everything.

Hana is located at Little Tokyo, Don Chino Roces Avenue, San Lorenzo Village, Makati. The restaurant is open from 10am to 11pm. Call 339-3855.

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