by Psyche Roxas-Mendoza
With a welcoming smile and the tinkle of a bell, a seated Chef Masahiro “Hiro” Mizumoto beckons guests to enter one of four private rooms and begins a virtual showcase of scrumptious, authentic Japanese dishes.
It is summer in Manila and along Roxas Boulevard, the glass doors of Hotel Jen effectively bar the heat even as it swings open to admit visitors to Kitsho—the Japanese Restaurant and Sake Bar on the hotel ground floor that offers refreshing delights that cool the body and tease the palate.
There is the Japanese style halo-halo that comes in summer colors of bright pink, sky blue, and lemon green. Unlike our native halo-halo, this Japanese incarnation is all shaved ice, condensed milk, and a specially concocted syrup.
“We have Blue Hawaii, Strawberry, and Green Tea,” said Chef Hiro. “It is all very simple.”
Sweet offerings also include unique ice cream in three Japanese flavors: matcha green tea, black sesame, and surprisingly, wasabi. No heat in these flavors, of course; only an exhilarating taste that leaves you wanting for more.
MOTHER’S DAY PROMO
The hot and humid summer days and nights put a premium on freshness, something Kitsho has in great abundance.
Have a plate of sashimi in three flavors—tuna and salmon, so creamy it melts in your mouth; and delightfully fresh uni (sea urchin) that brings to the senses the briny, smell and taste of the sea.
This May, in time for Mother’s Day, Kitsho has a ‘Mother’s Day Promo.’ “We offer a 5+1 weekend buffet, where the 6th person in a party of six gets a free buffet,” said Chef Hiro.
Buffet lunches come at Php1,232 per person, inclusive of VAT. Dinner is at Php1,400 per person, also inclusive of VAT.
Chef Hiro added that buffets can also be offered on weekdays. “If there is a reservation for 15 persons or more, buffet lunch of dinner can be set up, with a complementary pastry for Mother.”
Chef Hiro said that bento is still Kitsho’s bestseller. “Because bento is a complete meal,” he said, adding that, “It comes with a salad, appetizer, sashimi, main dishes, and soup.”
Regular bento sells for P583.40 inclusive of VAT, while bento special is at Php1,800, inclusive of VAT.
Next to bento, there is also Beef Tepan, a delicious and oh-so-tender, sautéed beef garnished with zuccini, brocoli, cabbage, and onions.
AUTHENTIC IS BEST
Around 40% to 50% of Kitsho’s ingredients are sourced from Japan. Rice in Kitsho comes from the North or South of Japan and gets delivered once a month.Fresh supplies like yellow-tailed fish, mackerel, crab sticks, and Japanese mustard arrive twice a week.
“We just want to say that our restaurant is a very authentic Japanese restaurant compared to others. I don’t want to change anything. What is important is the taste and the freshness,” Chef Hiro said.
He added that from mid-October to March, tiger puffer fish arrive from Japan. Puffer fish is notorious for being poisonous and Chef Hiro is the only professional chef in the country licensed to serve puffer fish, known as “botete” in local parlance.
FRESHNESS IS PRIME
For everyday veggies and fruits, Chef Hiro goes to Cartimar or Baclaran wet markets. “I go to market everyday, rain or shine. I have suki [regular supplier] of vegetables and fruits. I give them my list, a day in advance. If they do not have the ingredients, they just text me and say, ‘today, not so good’ or ‘out of stock.’ So, I will not buy.”
Chef Hiro revealed that he buys seafood like squid very fresh and then freezes them immediately as soon as he reaches Kitsho. “It’s very important to get them fresh before you keep them in the freezer. If they’re no longer fresh and you freeze them, they will be in very bad condition when you unfreeze them.”
Getting fresh food items has brought Chef Hiro to as far as Bicol and Pangasinan to source sea urchin. He imports salmon from Norway.
Guests will find in Kitsho a cavalcade of grilled chicken dishes. Newest in the menu is chicken teriyakidon or grilled chicken served over a bed of Japanese rice and coleslaw, topped with egg and teriyaki sauce.
There is also chicken tartaryaki, grilled chicken topped with thick and luscious tartar sauce; and chicken nanban.
Kitsho is open daily from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. for lunch and from 6:30 pm to 10 p.m. for dinner.