Izumi Curry and Grill’s foray into the Philippine scene is a much welcomed opportunity for local diners to get a taste of one of Japan’s most famous specialty curry franchises. Izumi, meaning “fountain” or “origin”, is also the first name of the grandfather of the restaurant’s founders, who had decided to put up a small curry house in Osaka. They selected a number of items to put on their menu, but placed high emphasis on curry.
Manila’s Operations Manager, Albert Cruz, takes the responsibility for keeping things in order in between bouts of curry taste testing. “The owners got ahold of the franchise in Hong Kong,” he shares. “The Japanese chef owner agreed and came to the Philippines to train us and teach us his secret curry recipe. We really devote time and effort to keeping their signature taste in the food items that we serve to our customers here in Manila.” As an afterthought, Cruz added that they did, however, tweak the flavour a little to better suit the Filipino tastebuds. “It’s a little less spicy than the standard Japanese, so it’s a flavour that everyone can appreciate.”
Izumi’s special curry has four defining factors: no MSG or artificial seasoning, large servings, creative toppings and a combination of a spicy and fruity taste. The sauce takes at least 7 hours to prepare, which gives it the taste that it has become famous for across Japan and Hong Kong. To ensure the utmost quality, all meats used are imported from the United States.
The Gyoza (P220) is currently one of the restaurant’s best-selling appetisers. The wrappings house a unique mix of meat and fresh vegetables, which I liked and found pleasant. The stars of the show, however, are their bestsellers from Japan and Hong Kong respectively: the Megabeef Steak Curry and the Pork Katsu Curry with Egg.
The Pork Katsu Curry with Egg (P290, add P60 for egg) is loved best by diners in Hong Kong. At first glance, I almost couldn’t bear to touch it due to how beautifully it was presented - adding the scrambled egg gives you a frothy, swirly mountain atop your breaded pork. Presentation aside, I was more curious about the taste of the curry sauce itself as it is such a highly-lauded element. Curry lovers will really be able to see how it stands out from the other curry sauces in the market due to its richness and its trademark semi-fruity flavour. Poured over and taken with the crisply breaded pork, it makes for an excellent soul food type of dish.
I found myself in absolute awe of the Megabeef Steak Curry (P320), which greatly resembles a volcano in a pool of molten lava. Popular in its origin country of Japan, this hunk of US beef served with curry sauce and melted cheese is the perfect mouthwatering dish to share with a friend. I really liked how soft and flavourful the beef was and how well its texture complemented that of the curry. This was definitely my favourite among all dishes served and is something I would come back for to have again. We each choose a can of Kirin (P125) to partner with our meals.
For those not so fond of curry dishes, there are also grilled and non-curry katsu items available on the menu. They are also working on perfecting a crepe dessert, which was not yet on the menu when I visited the restaurant. To conclude, the presence of Izumi in the country gives Filipinos the opportunity to, once again, partake of a Japanese staple that is so loved by its people. Indulge in lipsmacking curry goodness and visit Izumi at the top floor of The Podium Mall along Ortigas Avenue.
Additional images taken from Izumi Curry and Grill's official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/izumicurrygrill).