The U.P. Town Center is now home to the newly opened branch of Ginza Bairin, one of the pioneers of the modern Japanese Katsu—that’s meat, seafood or vegetables coated in Japanese bread crumbs called panko then deep fried.

Their authentic katsu is served either as Tonkatsu or a coated deep fried pork cutlet; or as Katsu Sando (originally created by Ginza Bairin) that’s a crisp hire (pork fillet) sandwiched between their freshly baked bread; and their Special Katsudon (my heavenly take home dish) which is a bowl of rice topped with a crisp pork cutlet and a fried egg drizzled with their special sauce.

Adding to these bestsellers, Ginza Bairin created new dishes to please not only meat lovers but likewise their vegetarian and health conscious clientele who have been clamoring for dishes they can enjoy as well.

8. Kani Mango Salad

To start off your meal, try their Kani Mango Salad, that’s a medley of kani (crabsticks), sweet ripe mango slices, mixed greens, fresh tomato slices and prawn roe called ebiko served with Japanese mayo. The ebiko lends a wonderful burst in your mouth feeling as you take each bite of this savory fruity salad.

7. Chawan Mushi

As if a salad were not enough to begin your Ginza Bairin experience, you must have a taste of their Chawan Mushi, an elegant silky savory egg custard topped with shiitake mushroom and (to my pleasant surprise) generously filled with lots of shiitake mushrooms and shrimps and seafood bits inside. So unlike most that I’ve tasted where the mushroom serves just as garnishing on top.

6. Hiyayakko Tofu

Another new appetizer is the Hiyayakko Tofu, theirs is cold silken tofu heaped with bonito flakes or katsuoboshi and chopped green onions. The melodious combination of the clean taste of the soft tofu with the umami from the katsuoboshi and the freshness of the green onions is quite a treat. For the health conscious, this plus the Kani Mango Salad and the Chawan Mushi can already serve as a full meal.

5. Watermelon Mint Shake

For me a meal without a drink is incomplete. I suggest that you try the Watermelon Mint Shake which is a blend of sweet watermelon spiked with mint that makes a refreshing drink that you can enjoy and cleanse the palate in between the salad, the appetizer and the main course.

4. Premium Seafood Set

For the main course, I was smitten by the luxurious Premium Seafood Set which features the succulent Hiroshima oyster, juicy Jumbo U.S. Sea Scallop (to die for), sweetish Black Tiger Prawn and the luscious Kani Cream Korokke (made of real crab meat mixed with seasoned cream) all crispy crusted and served with Japanese Koshihikari rice, Fresh Cabbage salad with a choice of a creamy dressing or soy based sweet dressing, miso soup, seasonal tsukemono or Japanese pickles, genmaicha (Japanese brown rice tea) and some slices of juicy pineapple and watermelon. The oyster, prawn and kani go well with a squeeze of lemon and some Himalayan salt. The scallop partners well with the special tonkatsu sauce, which I’m guessing is a blend of sweet tangy Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, rice wine and a bit of sugar.

3. Menchi with Creamy Cheddar Cheese

Not to be outdone is another dish which meat lovers will adore, the Menchi (Ground Pork) with Creamy Cheddar Cheese served with spicy curry is a complex yet harmonious mix of flavors. The slightly salty and milky cheese complements the spiciness of the curry. Should you wish to up the ante on the spice level of this dish (like me), one can request for the fiery spicy oil which you can add with abandon according to your desire.

2. Kushi Katsu

For ovo vegetarians (those who only eat vegetables and eggs) I recommend the Vegetarian Kushi Katsu which is a delightful serving of crunchy breaded and fried skewered eggplant, green capsicum, pumpkin, sweet onion and quail egg served with mirin sauce.

1. Matcha Vanilla Panna Cotta

Although stuffed by the time I finished eating the appetizers and the main dish with my shake, I couldn’t take my eyes off the Matcha Vanilla Panna Cotta which I just had to taste. To my amazement, I devoured this dessert in seconds. Creamy yet not too sweet, it is an ideal meal ender.

Ginza Bairin is at Ground Floor, Glorietta 2, Palm Drive, Ayala Center, Makati City (call 553-7350) and at Ground Floor, U.P. Town Center, Katipunan Ave., Quezon City (call 0917-871-0041).

What do you like at Ginza Bairin? Share your gustatory favorites in the Comments Section below.

Lorraine Timbol

Lorraine Timbol, also known as LT, former culinary consultant for Unilever and EIC of Appetite Magazine is a frustrated actress who managed to get into bit roles at the tender age of 40. She is now comfortably in her element as a freelance food stylist and food writer, teaching Cohen cooking on the side.

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