Banzai is a new Japanese restaurant offering an extensive array of authentic Japanese dishes recently opened over at the MOA. Banzai which literally means 10 thousand years of good luck offers several reasons for one to hie over to the bay area to get your fill of Japanese food and feel of Japanese artistry at its best. Here are 8 compelling reasons why I will travel all the way to MOA from Quezon City just to eat at Banzai.
Banzai’s ramen section offers a wide variety of noodles. The soup base used is pork meat and bones lovingly simmered for 24 hours to extract the pork essence needed to produce umami that makes a good ramen. The best seller and my favorite in this section is Tantan-men which is a spicy reddish colored soup with a hint of sesame, topped with pork slices, scallions and pechay. For those who are not too fond of spicy food, they offer a wide variety of choices. There’s Shoyu ramen which has clear brown broth that is tangy, salty yet light. Or one can also try Tonkotsu (not to be confused with Tonkatsu) which has a rather cloudy broth that is slightly thick in consistency. There’s also the sweet roast flavored ramen which is the Chasyu ramen, that’s noodles topped with barbecued pork slices.
The artistry of Japanese food is best exemplified in this section. The myriad colors and shapes of the sushi are not just attractive attention grabbers but truly exciting to the palate as well. There’s the Panda Roll which as you may have guessed indeed looks like a panda. There’s the round shaped sushi stuffed with white cheese and sprinkled with varying hues of toppings called Temari sushi . You must get a taste of the signature Banzai sushi that has that added crunch that I enjoyed so much. Like I said, these are not just nice to look at but heavenly in taste. What makes the sushi offerings mouth-watering is the freshness of the ingredients used. That brings us to their sashimi line up. There’s the bright orange sturdy flesh of the pork fat-like tasting salmon and the reddish pink flesh of the tuna. Not to be outdone is the pink colored shrimp and the milky white gummy ika or squid.
I got two thick slices of this juicy roast beef cooked medium rare, the way I want it. The beef was tasty and tender. Every time I go to a buffet I make sure I try the roast beef but I avoid pouring the thick brown sauce directly on the beef so I can taste the goodness of the meat. I have to say the roast beef gets an A+ in grade. Another must try is the roast duck. The duck meat was so succulent that even though I was already full, I just couldn’t resist eating every slice on my plate.
The sweetish flavored Barbecued Salmon Belly is my top choice in this section. The richness of the fatty salmon belly fused with the sweet slightly salty sauce makes this dish delectably irresistible. The other offerings in this section looked just as inviting so perhaps it is wise to take sample tidbits of each just so you don’t miss anything.
I got to try my hand in making Takoyaki balls during the chef’s demo which added to the adventure of dining at Banzai. The art of cooking takoyaki can be quite a challenge, the key is timing and patience and a delicate way of handling the chopsticks to turn the takoyaki so as to make a perfectly round cooked ball. Takoyaki in Banzai is made of their specially seasoned flour mixed with chopped cabbage and tako or octopus. When cooked this is plated and topped with their special sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, nori flakes (that’s flaked dried roasted seaweeds) and katsuboshi which are thin fish flakes that defines Japanese cuisine the way kaffir lime does to Thai cuisine.
The dessert section at Banzai is worth commending. Whereas other buffet restaurants serve deceptively fancy looking yet not worth the calorie desserts, Banzai’s line of impressive and great tasting desserts are worth the cheat. The cheesecake is the real deal. Their array of various flavored tarts... peanut butter, macadamia, chocolate, lemon and mallow are worth the digression from a strict diet. But the one dessert that swept me off my feet in this section is the Ginatang halo-halo, complete with chunks of sweet purple yam and thick slices of langka packed with the creamy rich flavor of kakang gata.
The sexiest section in Banzai is where the performing Teppanyaki chefs are. The hot looking chefs perform astounding tricks with their ladles and ingredients. The Korean superstar looking chef showed us egg tricks by balancing an uncooked egg on a flat turner. He then threw it up thrice and caught it each time before breaking the egg for the Japanese fried rice he was cooking. The William Martinez look-alike chef wowed us while cooking Teppanyaki beef when he poured rum which lit up the grill in flames. The drop dead gorgeous chefs served great tasting Teppanyaki dishes as well. Also part of the teppanyaki section is the little less known Okonomi-yaki, a savory Japanese pancake. Banzai serves the traditional Seafood Okonomi-yaki and the trendy Bacon Okonomi-yaki. I have to go back to Banzai to have more of this dish.
On weekends Banzai presents a theatre production entitled “ A Festival of Japan” which features different periods in the history of Japan. The performers are dressed in full regalia. The show is inspired by Japanese art performances such as kabuki and noh that brings quite an artistic distinction to the restaurant. This unique addition to a buffet restaurant is quite a thrill. This entertainment feature of Banzai is something that families will truly enjoy.
Have you tried Banzai? The Comments Section is ready for your rants and raves.