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Sakura by Edo-San

I am a Japanese food junkie. But within this subsection of the world’s cuisine, I am most enamored by sushi and sashimi. I will go out of my way for an unagi temaki and extremely fresh maguro sashimi.

So it was a fortuitous event that I got an invitation from good friend Rafael “Apa” Ongpin to preview the Alphaland City Club’s new high definition golf simulator. After checking out the simulator (and working up an appetite), Apa suggested we dine at one of the City Club’s numerous restaurants. When I saw the facade of Sakura by Edo-San it was game over.

The funny thing is Edo-San isn’t even Japanese. He’s a Filipino chef that cut his teeth at Inagiku at the Shangri-La Makati. He is absolutely obsessed with the freshness of his ingredients, as a top rank Japanese chef should be. He also has a wonderful imagination and a distinctive palate. I’ve eaten in many, many Japanese restaurants but I can safely say Sakura is now one of my favorites. The influence of Inagiku was apparent when the puffed rice stalks were brought to the table. I recognized them instantly and they tasted every bit as good.

After a very fresh Japanese salad, we started with a spicy maguro (tuna) maki. It was divine! The depth of flavor and textures was amazing. Flavors come at you in waves; the crunch of the spider-web like toppings, the freshness of the maguro are followed by the hit of spice and the bursting of the tobiko (flying fish roe). I washed it down with an all-malt Coedo beer and I was in hog heaven!

Our second dish was Edo-San’s unagi (eel) maki. Unagi is one of my favorite things to put in sushi. I used to start every sushi binge with an unagi temaki (hand-rolled sushi) so I know this flavor well. Sakura’s version is unique; it was covered in sesame seeds which added a delightful toastiness to the lightly grilled flavor of the unagi.

Next up was the dynamite maki. The presentation of this dish was superb as you can see in the image. Shrimp tempura, avocado, cucumber and tobiko wrapped in a fine slice of mango provided a cornucopia of flavors in the mouth. I must confess that I’m not a big fan of sweet or fruity elements in my sushi but this made me forget those predispositions.

Then some hotate (scallop) sushi. Hotate can be chewy if it is just slightly past its prime but this was clearly not the case here. It was soft and almost seemed to melt in your mouth. Two pieces hardly seemed like enough.

Our last dish was a California maki. As you might very well guess after my comments prefacing the dynamite maki, this is probably one of my least favorite sushis. But Edo-San’s palate is magic. This is THE BEST California Maki that I’ve ever had. Ever. It was creamy, flavorful and delicious. Again, flavors and textures come in waves. I didn’t think I’d ever like a California Maki but I’d order this one again the first chance I get.

Edo-San has just blown me away with his sushi. I’m amazed that one can pack so much flavor and texture into something so simple with just a few ingredients. He’s just set the standard for sushi in my book and he’s set it high.

Sakura by Edo-San is located at the Alphaland City Club at the corner of Ayala Avenue Extension and Malugay Street and at the Alphaland Center on Pasong Tamo Extension and EDSA.

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