Monday, December 16, 2013

Kessaku - Classic Japanese Dining

Mastering Classic Japanese Dining at Kessaku


Kessaku means creating a masterpiece,” says Yums Aggabao, the Managing Partner. Kessaku is the sister restaurant of Jozu Kin located in Burgos Circle. “There are some items that we have that are not available there [and vice versa]”, says Yums.

Kessaku is found in the quieter side of Alabang, just a few meters from Acacia Hotel. The modern minimalist setting creates a comfortable ambiance and their sushi bar at the top of the stairs is the perfect after-hours hideaway for the sushi-and-sake loving crowd.

Traditional Masterpieces
Though interiors are modern, the menu is more into the traditional Japanese fare.
We started our afternoon with their complimentary amuse-bouche: a serving of elegantly rolled crabstick with kewpie or Japanese mayonnaise, a delightful preview of that afternoon’s epicurean experience.
Crabstick with mayo
Masterpiece number one was the Unagi with Foie Gras (P350). Biting into the velvety soft texture was pure indulgence.
Unagi with Foie Gras
Number two came in the form of a bed of spicy tuna sashimi topped with crunchy tempura batter and wasabi mayonnaise called Maguro Togarashi (P275) with just a little heat to excite the palate.
Maguro Togarashi
Another winning sashimi dish is the Salmon Sashimi (P265). This particular sashimi is made with quality Norwegian salmon and I think I will measure all sashimi dishes in my food-filled future against this one. To fully enjoy the quality of the sashimi, you need only to dip the tip and not drown it with the sauce.
Salmon Sashimi
The Symphony (P380) is one of my favorites and it’s easy to figure out why it’s called as such: fried sushi rice, layers of spicy tuna, spicy salmon and crabstick, an effortless medley of spicy and savory.
The same spicy salmon lies on top of the Smoked Salmon Roll (P267) while rolled smoked salmon is inside.
Smoked Salmon Roll
Their California Maki with Flying Fish Roe (P240) has got to be the most festive California maki I have ever seen, a feast for the eyes that you almost don’t want to destroy its beauty by consuming it. Almost.
California Maki with Flying Fish Roe
Another one of my favorites is the Tiger Roll (P265) – crabstick, unagi, spicy mayo dressing and the ingredient that makes it a superstar, avocado. Instead of the usual crunchy cucumber, you have the nice surprise of the soft avocado in the middle.
Tiger Roll
For the tempura lovers, you will not be disappointed with their Ebi Tempura (P375), five pieces of black tiger prawns (read: extra large shrimp with batter and not the other way around). Yums says their menu will soon have options for three (for smaller appetites) and eight pieces (for the lumberjacks).
Ebi Tempura
It was my first time to encounter kamameshi, a traditional rice dish cooked in an iron pot. We had the Mixed Kamameshi (P450), which includes thin strips of carrots and sweet potato, boiled shrimp, pork and beef that’s mixed with rice flavored with soy sauce. Guests can do the mixing or ask the server to do it.
Mixed Kamameshi
Other classic Japanese dishes are the staple Kani Salad (P225) and the gyoza. Their Gyoza (P165) is stuffed and with five pieces per serving, you’ll be stuffed, too.
Kani Salad
Aside from many seafood choices, they also have chicken dishes like the Tori Kuwayaki (P320), which is made with deep-fried chicken with teriyaki sauce that sits on golden pieces of agedashi tofu.
Tori Kuwayaki
A few ramen choices are also available, which includes the spicy Tantanmen Ramen (P340) with sliced pork belly. The broth is extra thick because it’s a combination of chicken and pork.
Tantanmen Ramen (P340)
If you want to serve assorted maki aside from the usual Filipino holiday food, you can call them up and order their party trays that come in small (6 to 8 persons) and large (20 to 22 persons).
Where’s the Wagyu?
'Where’s the wagyu?' you might wonder. Unfortunately, my stomach is not a bottomless pit and after all of that, there simply wasn’t enough room (not even for dessert and even after drinking their complimentary hot tea). But yes, they do have wagyu that includes Matsusaka Gyu, one of the most famous types of beef because of its high fat-to-meat ratio.
Overall, Kessaku lives up to its name and I’m positive that my Japanese friend will love it there (this means you, Masao).
Afterwards, there was nothing else to say but “Gochiso sama deshita!

Additional Photos by Mike Alegado.
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