Monday, May 7, 2012

Sugi, a taste of Japanese fine dining

This restaurant can be intimidating.  Located in Greenbelt 2, you are initially greeted by kimono clad waitresses who will usher you inside the high ceiling interior decorated with Japanese lanterns and dotted with tasteful, minimalist furniture.

I went here for one of those rare dinner dates I have with my husband. In t-shirt and jeans, I felt out of place, underdressed, like I was intruding in some space reserved for moneyed folks. But that’s just me. The staff was not bothered at all and had been accommodating.

After a while seeing that no one cared over my imagined lack of wardrobe propriety, my self-consciousness left and I concentrated on the menu.  As always, Tempura and California Maki for me, my staple Japanese food.

The Tempura’s breading was light, like feather compared to the other tempura that is dredged in heavy dough. Its form seemed consistent, more rounded than the others with its uneven shapes. Truly, they have mastered this dish.

Meanwhile, I also sampled their special California Maki, rolled Japanese rice in nori sheet with crabstick and fresh mango strips cut into bite-sized round pieces surrounded by orange fish eggs (ebiko or tabiko). Served cold, the compact rice fared well with the sweet mango cuts and the crabmeat while the fish eggs injected a tasty surprise by giving it some crunch. 

However, the plate I got didn’t seem as fresh as I would have hoped to. Maybe it had sat in the ref too long. The rice was already coldly smooth than grainy. Nonetheless, it was still better than the other California Makis I’ve tried.

And speaking of sushi, I have always been amazed by the way these are made. It looks simple but it’s not. There seems to be a certain technique to it. You see I have tried preparing California Maki a month ago, I had a friend who worked in Japan who taught me how. And it’s not easy. If put too much rice on the nori sheet, the result will be a thicker Maki. And if your knife is not sharp enough, the contents of the rolled sushi will fall out like mine did. My knife was not samurai sharp then and my California Maki was a mess. So I didn’t attempt it again. For now.

Going back to Sugi, my husband also ordered the gindara, Sugi’s grilled cod fish. It was soft and fleshy and the flavor was mild. I like its subtle teriyaki flavor especially having it with the luscious Japanese rice. 

We didn't have dessert here, we had it outside, Sugi can be a little pricey and we had a budget to uphold. Yes we do :) The servings here by the way are not that big, not the American style of big plates so if you’re going to have a party here or a grand celebration, better come prepared with extra cash or your credit card. But to impress a date with authentic Japanese cuisine and an ambiance to boot then maybe you can try this place.

This restaurant can be considered one of the high-end Japanese restaurants in the metro with branches located only in Makati and Greenhills. But despite its intimidating façade, the staff is accommodating and the service is efficient, a haven for Japanese food lovers who are tired of the mediocre Japanese cooking other restaurants attempt to dish out. If I have some money to splurge, I might come back here and try their bento boxes, I heard these are also good.

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