I HAD a totally satisfying day last Friday (August2, 2013). I had an awesome Japanese lunch with Doc Boy (Dr. Efren Vazquez) at his Haru Sushi Bar & Restaurant along West Capitol Drive, Bo. Kapitolyo, Pasig City. Doc Boy is the brains behind the critically acclaimed Café Juanita, which is responsible for turning this part of Bo. Kapitolyo into the restaurant row that it has become today. A charming doctor turned restaurateur, Doc Boy is a jolly person to be with, and I always enjoy his company because there truly is no dull moment with him. He has his own unique sense of humor that will keep you laughing the whole time you’re with him. His positivity never fails to rub off on me, and I like that.
Anyway, we had lunch at Haru, and since I was craving for Haru’s Yaki Meshi (Fried Rice) and Ebi Tempura, that’s what I ordered. I had featured Haru, which soft-opened late last year (2012) and was formally launched last June (2013), in FLAVORS Magazine, and I’ve written about it twice before in this blog of mine, but Haru is one restaurant that you’d keep going back to, and each meal is an experience worth writing about, because the food is so good. Doc Boy’s partner, Chef Tom Yamazaki, is an awesome chef who certainly knows his stuff and always strives to make it even better. He makes really good Yaki Meshi. I’ve tasted Japanese fried rice in all the Japanese restaurants that I’ve dined in, and, trust me, there had been plenty, but the Yaki Meshi of Chef Tom is really, as in REALLY, good. As for Haru’s Ebi Tempura, I had a few pieces during the formal opening rites last June, and despite sitting on the buffet for quite a long time, it was good. I think it’s one of the best Ebi Tempuras in town. It has just the right flavor, and it stays crunchy for a long time. There’s also no greasy taste to it.
Raff ordered Sake Teriyaki (better known as Salmon Teriyaki) with plain Gohan (Steamed Rice), and we shared Sake Sashimi (Salmon Sashimi). The salmon sashimi was so fresh and lovely. There was no fishy taste at all.
As for Doc Boy, well, he had sashimi and two kinds of beef steak dishes which he had cooked in a sous vide machine for 12 hours to tenderize the meat and, afterwards, he had Chef Tom create something with it – Japanese style. Chef Tom made two dishes with it. He had one served with sautéed bean sprouts with julienned carrots and bell pepper; while he had the other one served with a green leafy vegetable sautéed with assorted mushrooms.
Dessert was a family affair, as Doc Boy had Haru’s new Green Tea Ice Cream served. It was several scoops of green tea ice cream served with mochi balls and red beans and topped with a Maraschino cherry. We also had desserts cross-ordered from the next-door Café Juanita: Sticky Toffee Pudding, Cassava Cake and Caramel Flan. Doc Boy even experimented with his best-selling desserts, topping a piece of Cassava Cake with a slice of Caramel Flan. The combination works well on the palate. You just have to make the Caramel Flan layer slightly thinner.
That was my awesome Japanese lunch. If you know me, you’d know that I love Japanese food, and having it for lunch makes me one happy lady.
But that’s not all. I had one of my other favorite cuisines, Vietnamese, for dinner on the same day. After rushing over to both venues of the World Food Expo 2013 (WOFEX) at the World Trade Center and at the SMX Convention Center – World Trade Center first to talk to a Singapore-based client and friend, and then to SMX to take shots of the day’s winning entries for the Philippine Culinary Cup 2013 competitions being held in tandem with WOFEX and to deliver something to a chef-friend in one of the WOFEX booths, my husband Raff and I finally had the luxury of slowing down our pace for the day. We walked over to SM Mall of Asia through the bridge to have dinner. After consulting the directory of restaurants on the wall leading to SM Mall of Asia, we both decided to go light and picked our favorite restaurant for Vietnamese food, Pho Hoa. Yes, even if it meant having to walk all the way from the South Parking Building to the North Parking Building…
Raff and I have always loved Pho Hoa, and when we got there, the place was packed and there was only one table left, so we took it and ordered our Pho Hoa staples – Goi Ga (a Vietnamese fresh salad of lettuce, shredded cabbage, some strips of sayote, carrots and shredded chicken on top), Goi Cuon (fresh spring rolls with shrimps), and Seafood Pho (the lighter version of the famous Vietnamese noodle soup dish, beef pho, with squid balls, fish fillet, crabstick, shrimps and noodles). If you order the Goi Ga, you can choose the Vegetarian variant or the one with chicken. We like the version with the shredded chicken on top. Same with the Goi Cuon, which comes in both vegetarian and shrimp variants, and is served with a lovely peanut sauce. The pho, for its part, is served with a small, oval plate filled with Vietnamese basil leaves, bean sprouts and a wedge of lemon. We dunked the basil leaves and the bean sprouts in the soup as soon as it arrived, so the heat can still cook the bean sprouts.
Normally, we would have the meal with Fresh Lemonade, but we opted to go with just water this time.
As always, Pho Hoa lived up to expectations.
Japanese lunch, Vietnamese dinner… Two of my favorite cuisines in the world… Enjoyed in two of my favorite restaurants… in one day. Not bad. Not bad at all.