There are a few things I look for when it comes to choosing my favorite restaurants. In my book, there are two big things that thusly:
- Taste – it should taste great. Better than average, the kind that gets you addicted.
- Affordability – the price should be reasonable for eating at regularly, like daily, or weekly, or fairly often.
- Competitiveness – Aside from the two important criteria above, the restaurant should also be better than its peers at these two things.
And so I go around looking for my favorite restaurants in a variety of cuisines and dish types. I have a favorite restaurant for pizza, for carbonara, for burgers, for ramen, for pretty much everything and of course that includes sushi.
Strange that a Tempura restaurant is my pick for best sushi restaurant, but there are several reasons for my choice. This is one of them:
When it comes to sushi, I tend more towards modern fusion style maki rather than traditional sushi. The traditional kind of sushi which is “authentic” doesn’t really hold my attention much, unless it’s a shake salmon maki. It’s because most traditional maki is just nori rolled in vinegared rice with a piece of fish or something mixed in. It doesn’t hold my attention.
On the other hand, modern fushion sushi tends to have more delicious ingredients and a more bold mix of things. The platter above has two types of maki — a Salmon Roll which is the nori and rice mixed with raw salmon, cream cheese, mayo and green onions. It tastes amazing. The other is a Dynamite Roll, which is shrimp rolled in nori and rice, with manga, mayo, ebiko and some spicy chili powder. It’s also great.
The amazing thing about Tempura is that it sells this platter of 72 pieces (36 each of Salmon and Dyanmite rolls — that’s 4 full rolls cut into 8 pieces each) for only 950 bucks. When you do the math, that comes down to 118.75 bucks per roll! Normally you would buy a single roll of this sushi for 200-300 bucks (the Salmon and Dynamite Rolls goes for about 200 per roll). That’s amazing savings buying in bulk. Of course, you can’t eat this alone in one sitting (well technically you could….) but ordered with 4 friends it’s just about right. I have once taken this out and kept it in the fridge, eating a bunch at a time lasting me a few days. Not bad actually.
That’s what I mean by Affordability. The Taste is also great. In terms of Competitiveness, other Japanese restaurants in the southern metro that are in this price range don’t come close the awesome taste of the Salmon Maki, and they certainly aren’t going for around 120 bucks — unless you’re buying from Saibachi in which case it’s that cheap — but it tastes horrible.
Even at 200 pesos per roll it’s a pretty good price, considering other rivals at that price range are Teriyaki Boy, which has similar fusion maki but they don’t taste as good, or slightly more expensive. Kenji Tei has a good salmon sushi roll but it’s pricy at 300+ and the portions are smaller. Tempura simply wins on taste and affordability, it’s just more competitive.
Here is the Salmon Roll. It’s supposed to be 8 pieces but I ate one before I took the picture, I couldn’t help myself!
Tempura without a doubt serves the best-bang-for-your-buck sushi here in the South. I’ve tried a lot of restaurants around Alabang and BF but none have as good sushi for as good a price as Tempura. If anyone knows any hole-in-the-wall places I may have missed, I’d love to hear it in the comments. I’m always looking for the next good eat.
Another thing to note about Tempura is their delicious Katsudon. It’s not the best Katsudon I’ve had (the best is probably from Yabu) but what I like is the price — it’s only 180 bucks and is a pretty good flavor. Teriyaki Boy used to have a good 180 buck Katsudon, but they recently hiked the price to 270 and the flavor actually got worse (pork is stinky and too strong) so I ended up enjoying Tempura’s better.
The pork is not super soft, but not tough and it’s easy to eat. It’s not crisped perfectly with the bread crumbs, but the dashi on the sauce is spot on, not hte best but pretty good along with the onions, egg and it flows into and flavors the rice just right. The rice isn’t the great kind, probably just local dinorado or sinandomeng, but it’s good enough in that it’s not hard, overcooked, or otherwise unpalatable as I see in many cheap Japanese restaurants.
Lastly, for those who are looking for a deal, there’s a weekday promo at Tempura where you can buy several dishes for full price and buy the next one at 50%. It works out to around a 25% discount — meaning you can buy two Salmon Rolls, for instance, for only 300 bucks. It’s a good deal for good sushi. Unfortunatley, I blogged this too late and it ends on June 30. But if you were wondering what Japanese restaurant to eat at this week this is a good choice. If you click for the larger image you can see the items on the menu that qualify for the promo.
All in all, the sushi here is very tasty, it’s very flavorful. The rice is not the best, but at this price you shouldn’t expect koshihikari rice. The price is reasonable and the taste is, in my book, one of the better ones for fusion maki. You could certain get better sushi or better katsu or whatever in other restaurants, but they tend to be 50% – 100% more expensive.
So let’s just say Tempura is one of those really great “bang for your buck” restaurants that you can eat at regularly.