Food and Leisure

No fusion at Ogawa, just top-quality Japanese cuisine at reasonable prices

FOOD FOR THOUGHT - Millie & Karla Reyes - The Philippine Star

MILLIE: I have long wanted to revisit Japan. I was 11 years old when my parents took me on my first trip abroad and it etched a very good impression in my memory banks.

Tokyo was cool and clean, bustling with towering buildings. I was both puzzled and amused by the magic-eye doors whenever we would enter a building and even taxis would automatically open its doors without you touching the door handles. My dad taught me to say “open sesame” so the doors would open and I was so gullible, I believed him. I was particularly amused by the plastic food displays outside restaurants and would choose my order for the day.

Five years ago I was scheduled to go with Karla, my brother Gerry and my youngest sister Dorcie and her family, but we cancelled our trip after the fateful tsunami. Ever since, we have never had the chance to go back, but I am hoping we can do so this year.

Japanese food is one of my favorite cuisines. In fact, Karla and I frequently dine at Sugi and Kimpura, two of our favorite Japanese restaurants. Last year, we were invited to the soft opening of Ogawa at Bonifacio Global City and we only had a chance to go back recently, to dine with my group of Why Not friends.

KARLA: The visionary behind Ogawa, K-Pub BBQ, and Modern Sichuan, George Pua has not only been successful in the importing and distributing business, but is also one of the more respected restaurateurs in the industry today. Unlike others, instead of importing foreign restaurant concepts from all over the world, he gets inspiration from them during his travels and creates a homegrown brand, a unique concept and a new dining experience for Filipinos.

George tells me about how he used to work for a Japanese multinational company in Makati for 13 years and mainly got his exposure to Japanese cuisine from his time there. For as long as he can remember, opening a Japanese restaurant had always been in the back of his mind. Drawing inspiration from several trips to different parts of Japan, little did he know that his concept and urge to open a traditional Japanese restaurant had been building up in his subconscious. His vision was simple: he wanted a restaurant that could serve Japanese cuisine in all its simplicity and sincerity, veering away from fusion Japanese and offered at a reasonable price. He wanted to be priced lower than the restaurants at five-star hotels without sacrificing the quality of the ingredients.

All this fell into place when chef Kiyoshi Ogawa, the former chef of Senju at Edsa Shangri-La Hotel, agreed to partner with George. It was in December 2014 that planning and conceptualization began. As soon as they found a Japanese supplier for fresh seafood from Tsukiji in Tokyo, they knew they were on the right track. Together, their brand promise is to serve the freshest seafood in season from Japan with more variety than we’ve ever seen in the Metro’s Japanese dining scene. Some of these items are toro, ottoro, chutoro, aji shimaji, and live oysters, geoduck, scallops, clams, king crab, horsehair crab, and so many other treasures from the sea.

Also available are Japan’s four best kinds of beef, namely Kobe, Matsusaka, Kagoshima and Ohmi. They have also started serving ramen and kamameshi. Set menus start at P350 and up.

True enough, they are definitely living up to their promise. At Ogawa, there is something for everyone and at very reasonable prices. A concept 11 months in the making, Ogawa is finally ready to serve you.

MILLIE: I am very traditional when it comes to food. I don’t really enjoy fusion stuff. So Ogawa is perfect for me. When my Why Not group of friends decided on Ogawa as the venue for the send-off dinner for Karla, who was leaving for the USA the next day, I was eager to go. Since we arrived earlier than the rest, I ordered spicy salmon, which was perfect for a warm summer day.

As the rest of the gang arrived, they started to place their orders and for some reason, I could not make up my mind. Our server suggested I try the SM11, which was a teppan gozen bento with an appetizer, prawn, salmon and 120 grams of US rib-eye steak served with miso soup, fried rice, vegetables and fresh fruits for P750 — all in! Karla ordered that while I settled for the unagi with steamed rice. Lya and Leo likewise ordered SM 11.

Meanwhile, Ditas and Liz had traditional sukiyaki and they both swear it was delicious! Larry, Ramon and Rene all had the SM 12 seafood teppan zen, which included an appetizer, salad, salmon, prawns, white fish, scallops, sautéed assorted vegetables, fried rice, miso soup and fresh fruits.

Rinna’s order was unique, the SM04 unagiyu to cha soba zen composed of an appetizer, broiled eel topped with steamed white rice, a bowl of cold green noodles with chilled soba sauce and some fresh fruits for dessert.

We ordered a dragon roll for all to share which had lobster tempura, omelet and cucumber wrapped and topped with baked freshwater eel and ripe mangoes.

There was boisterous laughter throughout the meal and Liz’s cute, one-year-old grandson Tyler entertained us. As a perfect meal ender, none other than George Pua came into the private room to wish us all well and make sure we thoroughly enjoyed our meal.



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Ogawa Traditional Japanese Restaurant is located at The Fort Entertainment Complex, 2nd floor (of Tony Roma’s) 5th Ave. cor 28th St., BGC, Taguig City, Metro Manila. For reservations and inquiries, call 886-4994, 886-4996 or 0917-85OGAWA.

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Send e-mail to milliereyes.foodforthought@gmail.com andquichethecook.ph@gmail.com. Find us on Facebook: Food for Thought by Millie & Karla Reyes.

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