According to the grapevine, the Astoria chain of hotels and resorts was looking for another project to develop so that their guests will have more options while staying at their property. The management’s Think Tank was unanimous in opening a Japanese restaurant, however, it would not be “just any other Japanese restaurant”. It had to be the best and will be at the Astoria Plaza in the bustling and upscale Ortigas Business District.
Soon enough, seasoned Japanese Chef Kimito Katagiri was called to create a menu that will offer superb sushi and dishes not commonly found in Japanese restos in the city. To those not in the know, Chef Katagiri is the same chef who opened Manila Hotel’s “Ginza Japanese Restaurant” many years ago and also, Midas Hotel’s “Yanagi Japanese Restaurant”. The management of Astoria was focused on making the restaurant the best there is in Ortigas and gave Chef Katagiri the carte blanche to use only the best ingredients for their dishes… second best is a “no-no”.
Astoria’s efforts paid-off and today, it has been voted by two foodie websites as 2016’s “Best Sushi Restaurant” in mega Manila. We are talking about Astoria Plaza’s “Minami Saki” (Southern Blooms). Let’s have a look-see inside and find out why it has become the favorite of VIP’s like Lovie Poe, Enzo Pineda, Pops Fernandez, Kris Aquino, Sam Y.G., Michelle & Ehra Madrigal, Erich Gonzales and even former President Noy-noy Aquino.
Address: Ground Floor, Astoria Plaza, 15 J. Escriva Drive, Ortigas, Pasig City, Philippines
Operating Hours: 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM and 6:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Facebook Account: https://web.facebook.com/minamisakibyastoria/
Contact Number: +63 2 6871111
Its unassuming facade keeps a foodie’s “haven” inside.
The brand Astoria is known for gorgeous interior designs in all its hotels and resorts. It is said that Astoria Current in Boracay is unquestionably an “in-your-face” stunningly beautiful resort. Minami Saki is just that too…beautiful!
Apparently, it was no less than Ivy Almario who designed the interiors and you just gotta give it to this girl – she designed the restaurant with an ambiance that transports you to those lovely countryside restaurants in Japan’s quaint prefectures. The warm-colored lights, pretty faux Sakura flowers and the Japanese Oak colored wooden furniture and walls are such a lovely partnership. If you have been to Nara City in Japan, you will know what we mean. Team Eat’s a Small World occupied this booth (in the photo above) that sits four. It was comfortable and we loved the fluffy pillows, what more can we ask for?
Minami Saki has a “show kitchen” which, if you are an avid follower of EAT’s a Small World, is a design feature we love. You can take a look at their kitchen and you’d be happy to see how clean it is. A coterie of chefs are inside waiting to prepare your orders.
As a part of their service, they gave us “oshibori” (hot towels) to help us freshen up while waiting for our food orders. It was so refreshing!
The complimentary green tea was light and hot. The ceramic cup that holds it is lovely.
Seaweeds with Sesame Seeds
Thin slices of seaweed sprinkled with sesame seeds: simple, savory, superb! Best taken with tea.
Another complimentary appetizer, this light and mildly sweet salad was our favourite! We really liked it!
Kaki Papaya Yaki – PHP 580.00
This was unforgettable: a rich and creamy dish made of really large grilled oysters served on a bed of papaya. We also tasted a very mild hint of miso and a douse of Minami Saki’s “to die for” sauce that was slightly torched to balance the sweetness and the saltiness of the dish. We found out that the oysters were imported from Japan which explains their unusually large size. Two thumbs up for the freshest oysters I have ever tasted in my entire life!
Aburi Sushi (5 Kinds) – PHP 850.00
Undeniably, Minami Saki has been hailed as the no. 1 Sushi Restaurant in Manila. Their bestseller is done “Aburi” style: the sushi is slightly torched to give off a wonderful slightly burnt flavour. The sauce was extremely delicious and mouthwatering and every bite was pure pleasure.
The “Five Kinds” comes with: salmon, tuna, hamachi, lapu-lapu, and unagi. My personal favourite was the salmon. I suggest you order this one if you are not alone.
Aburi Sushi (3 Kinds) – PHP 530.00
The “Three Kinds” comes with tuna, salmon and lapu-lapu. It’s already the perfect meal for solo diners (each sushi is big enough for 1 bite). Pair it with a cup of hot tea, and you’re good!
Soft Shell Crab – PHP 650.00
Crab lovers – rejoice!
This dish enables you to eat the crab – whole! Nothing is wasted. Value for money? A bit pricey but, yes (!), this dish is definitely value for money! You can eat everything outside-in/inside-out. Nothing is wasted.
Katsuju – PHP 480.00
Classic pork cutlet that is lightly cooked in a special sauce and then served on a bed of rice. It’s one of the Japanese rice toppings that I really love primarily because of the onions and the eggs which add a delicious flavour to the tender slices of meat.
Honestly, it is really hard to choose from the desserts that they have here in Minami Saki. I heard that they are famous for their homemade matcha ice cream, Japanese cheese cake and coffee jelly.
Coffee Jelly – PHP 180.00
The presentation of this dessert was hands-down fabulous! The vanilla ice cream was served on a custom made container with dry ice (to help retain the temperature of the ice cream) where the vapor flows to a dish that holds the coffee jelly. It is actually a visual treat. A must try!
You are a follower of Eat’s a Small World if you know that we not only check on the food but the restrooms as well. After all, we spend precious moments here and there’s a saying that you know that a place is clean by how its toilet looks like. So, presenting the ladies room of Astoria Plaza…
Talk about elegantly chic – – their restroom is just that. It is spacious, air-conditioned, well equipped with liquid hand soap and has lots of toilet paper. The combination of shiny off-white and caramel colored vein cut marble tiles with chocolate brown painted cubicles are classic. Don’t you just love the over-sized beveled mirrors? This one takes the cake.
When we had some “to go” food after dinner, it was placed in one of those microwaveable containers then placed on a personalized Minami Saki eco-bag. The thing is, the “to-go” food was also “styled” (complete with extra wasabi, decorative leaves, seaweed, etc.) and not just dumped into the microwavable container like what most restaurants do. The styling and quality did not stop at the restaurant, we were also able to bring it home. Now that, to us, is an extra attention to details which gives Minami Saki an edge over the rest.
We definitely agree that Minami Saki is the best Sushi Restaurant in Manila. The “Aburi” method that they have introduced was unforgettable. The special sauce for their sushi was intense and mouthwatering. Overall it was amazing and we really loved it. Make sure to order this particular specialty. On the other hand, do not miss their complimentary appetizers (we loved the Salmon Salad), Kaki Papaya Yaki for fresh oysters (which I also consider the best in Manila) and some of their rice meals like the Katsuju.
Service was excellent. The people working in the restaurant seemed to like what they were doing. They can describe each dish clearly without hesitation and they were very much attentive to our needs. Add to that is that the staff were all well-groomed and pleasing to look at. It’s best to eat here for a romantic date, a family gathering or to celebrate a special event.
This review is the opinion of the author based on actual experience. The establishment may have changed in terms of ownership, prices, decor, service, food preparation and food presentation after the posting of this review. This is not meant to influence the reader’s decision.