THE restaurant row of Kapitolyo, Pasig, is more vibrant than ever – especially now that Haru, the Japanese restaurant and sake bar along West Capitol Driveis formally open. The newest baby of OB-gynecologist turned restaurateur Dr. Efren ‘Boy’ Vazquez, who rose to fame via the critically acclaimed Café Juanita, with business partner Chef Tom Yamazaki, Haru has been open since late last year, but it formally opened only last Wednesday (June 19, 2013), an auspicious day despite the floods and terrible traffic (and a low-intensity earthquake, too!) that affected the entire metro that evening.
The place was full of guests, and the food was overflowing. There was an entire buffet table devoted to sushis, sashimis and makis, right in front of the sushi bar. Right beside it was an interactive sukiyaki station, where fresh vats of sukiyaki were being cooked as the guests watched. Nearby was the tempura station, which teemed with ebi tempura, fish tempura and vegetable tempura.
Up the steps to the mezzanine dining area was a buffet area for hot dishes in a row of chafing dishes, including gyoza (meat dumplings), grilled salmon, chicken teriyaki, yakitori, yasai itame (mixed veggies, mainly beansprouts, julienned carrots and onion), tofu, and a lot more.
Doc Boy and Chef Tom mingled with their guests and offered sake toasts, with the sake (Japanese rice wine) served in small, fragrant cedar boxes.
The food, despite being prepared in big batches and served buffet style, is as good as ever. The tempura is crunchy on the outside and flavorful on the inside. The sushis and makis are fresh and made of top-quality ingredients. The salmon is the best! Haru’s chicken teriyaki is among the best in the metro, if not the best, and the yakitori was incredibly delicious. Stuck in traffic for hours when my husband Raff and I struggled through the turtle-paced traffic along EDSA on our way from the office in Makati all the way to Kapitolyo, Pasig, the food was certainly worth the trouble.
Congratulations to Doc Boy and Chef Tom for a remarkable formal opening of the restaurant and for an awesome Japanese restaurant that they have come up with. Haru, which stands next to the new Cafe Juanita, will definitely give all the top Japanese restaurants in the metro, including the Japanese restaurants of five-star hotels, a run for their money.