Yamazato山里: Hotel Okura Manila's Michelin Star Fine Dining Japanese Restaurant (Pasay, Metro Manila)

Metro Manila, Philippines

During the COVID pandemic, the family has been practicing caution in choosing where and when to dine out.  Having our first dine out at Yamazato山里 at Hotel Okura Manila was a wise choice and as you read along our experience, we're sure you'll agree as to why.

yamazato hotel okura dinner

According to the official Michelin Guide website, "In 2002, Yamazato became the first traditional Kaiseki restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star outside of Japan, thanks to Chef Masanori Tomikawa’s subtle cuisine that is full of velvet-smooth flavours."

 

When we dined there, the above-mentioned was the only information that lured us into trying out Yamazato.  But a few days after we posted about it on instagram, its management commented some interesting details therein: (1)  This branch in the Philippines is the 10th location to open worldwide and (2) Yamazato in Bangkok, Macau, and Taipei also have Michelin distinction.   What an amazing track record right?

yamazato private room

Brief Info on Kaiseki

It has dawned on us that we've never tried Kaiseki before.  Kaiseki, kanji are written as 会席 or formally as 懐石 literally mean "breast-pocket stone" which Zen monks, who do not have budget for food, give to guests to ward off hunger as a sign of hospitality. These kanji are thought to have been incorporated to indicate the frugal meal served in the austere style of chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony).  Both sets of kanji remain in use today to write the word.  

Kaiseki now represents a set course meal as a counterpart to the Japanese haute cuisine.  

 

After such an introduction, you'd think we'd go for the Yamazato Mini Kaiseki Set which was available from 6 pm to 9 pm right? Wrong.

 

Since the family really missed dining out and having special dishes for sharing, we decided to go ala carte style.   

 

COVID Protocols

As responsible citizens, we're really advocating cautious practice against COVID.  And, we feel that restaurants such as Yamazato with excellent COVID protocols should be commended too.

Yamazato Covid Protocol
As part of its safety protocol, they provide free internet for all guests and the menu can be viewed by scanning the QR code.  
 Yamazato Manila
There are also plastic bags on the table for us to store our face masks.  And, see how the seats are far away from each other?

Yamazato Manila Private Room
Service
While deciding on what to order from their menu which we viewed through our phones, our personal server wearing her face mask and face shield cautiously served us complimentary hot tea and oshibori or hot towel.
 

Food


Simmered Dishes  (煮物)

Buta Kakuni 豚角煮
Buta Kakuni 豚角煮 (894 php)
 
We just realized that although we have a lot of pork supply in Manila, there aren't many Japanese restaurants that offering the Buta Kakuni.   
 
Yamazato’s  Buta Kakuni is one of the priciest braised pork belly we've had yet.  As you can see, it costs almost a thousand pesos for two pork belly chunks.  But, it was hands down worth it!  Just by its appearance, you can already see from the precise square cut of the pork belly at how meticulous Yamazato is in terms of food ingredient selection and preparation.  The Yamazato’s original sauce was subtle in terms of sweetness with a hint of fragrant mirin and sake and it harmonizes well with the delicious pork fats that was bursting with savory goodness in every bite.  It was braised with precision as it has reached both the peak for the tenderness of the lean pork meat and the flavorness which involves the melting of the some portions of fats and collagen.
 
Yasai Takiawase  野菜炊き合わせ
Yasai Takiawase  野菜炊き合わせ (280 php)
 
The Yasai Takiawase isn't a dish that would stand out on its own.  But, it completes a healthy meal.  The vegetables were really fresh and of quality.
 

 Grilled Dishes 焼物

Gindara Saikyo Yaki 銀鱈西京焼き
Gindara Saikyo Yaki 銀鱈西京焼き  (880 php)

The
Gindara Saikyo Yaki in white miso sauce was so good.  We ordered three of this dish!    
 

Fried Dishes 揚げ物

Tempura Moriawase  天麩羅盛り合わせ
Tempura Moriawase  天麩羅盛り合わせ (800 php)

Of course, the
Tempura Moriawase is another must order.  Each one has to have their own Prawn Tempura.  With this dish, you can already judge it by the color and texture of the tempura batter. 
 
 
Chicken Teriyaki  鶏照り焼き
Chicken Teriyaki  鶏照り焼き (620 php)
 
The Chicken Teriyaki is a classic Japanese dish served in most Japanese restaurants here and elsewhere so its really difficult for this dish to stand out amongst our other orders.  Yet, we found every tender piece of this pleasurable to eat because Yamazato's blend really suits our taste preference.  It was not too thick and sweet.
 

Noodles

Tempura Soba
Tempura Soba (Hot) 天麩羅そば(温) (880 php)

The Tempura Soba is another comforting dish for the soul to enjoy.  The buckwheat noodles was smooth and bouncy.  It didn't have the usual rough and brittleness that you'd usually expect for a soba.  The soba and the rest of the toppings meshed well together.  Even the mild natural earthy flavor of the shiitake mushroom brought out by the broth.
 

Sushi / Sushi Roll 寿司 / 巻物

Futo Maki
Futo Maki 太巻寿司 (780 php)

The Futo Maki may look just like any other maki you've encountered but take a bite and the play of textures and the fresh flavors of the ingredients in your mouth will leave you a distinguishing satisfaction.

 

Secret Menu

Yamazato Chahan
Chahan

We're so glad that our server hinted us to order Yamazato's Chahan.  She even checked with the kitchen as to the availability of this dish since it is not in the menu.  We felt like a winner when she announce that it was available.  But, we felt even luckier upon trying this.  This is hands down one of the best, if not the best Chahan we've had.
 
We know that we sound like a broken record as we repeat in our Japanese blog post that we've always believed that ordering the Chahan is one of our measuring gauge of the quality of a Japanese restaurant.  And, thus, our standing ovation of compliments for Yamazato's Chahan says a lot!
 

Complimentary Tea

Yamazato Original Japanese Green Tea

Unfortunately, we were able to inquire as to what type of Japanese green tea this was.  But, it was the most refreshingly clean-tasting tea we've ever tried.  It made us wonder if it was the quality of the tea itself or the precision in steeping that made the difference.  
 
Complimentary Birthday Surprise
 
dark chocolate cake
Complimentary Dark Chocolate Cake
 
Upon informing them during our reservation that we're celebrating a birthday there, Yamazato prepared this surprise.  We really appreciate this! 

Tsinoy Foodies Verdict

We totally agree with Michelin guide in recognizing the Yamazato山里.  Although we have yet to the Yamazato in other countries, with the quality of the dining experience we experience here in Manila, we believe that its execution in multiple branches is no doubt at par with each other.  If you're looking for a really quality Japanese fine dining experience here in Manila, Yamazato should belong in your top list. 

Tsinoy Foodies Review Rating Yamazato山里 Menu
Ambiance Menu
Taste
Service
Price
=Favorites or Recommended 
Yamazato 山里 Okura Hotel Manila
Business Address Resorts World Manila, 2 Portwood Street (formerly Palm Drive, Newport Blvd, Pasay, 1309 Metro Manila
Business Hours Lunch: 11:30am-2pm
Dinner: 6pm-10:00pm
Payment Options   Cash
Service Charge 10%
Budget/Person 1,000-2,000
Free WiFi No
Contact (02) 5318-2888
Other  Website
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