Dinner at Furusato Japanese Restaurant

After decades of nothing but fond nostalgia for the food at Furusato Japanese Restaurant, we finally managed to have dinner there a couple of weekends ago. I didn’t think Furusato was still on the map of Metro Manila. Heaven knows how many times I’ve driven along the entire stretch of Roxas Boulevard, hoping for a glimpse of its signage, and totally missing it.

Then, I came across a restaurant listing on the Internet that said it was beside the Traders Hotel and off I went with my family. To make sure that we’d have an easier time locating the place, we decided we’d have to be in the vicinity of Traders Hotel before the sun went down. And so we were. At six in the evening, we entered the service road and Traders Hotel was about 20 meters away. For a few minutes, I thought that the listing on the Internet was wrong — that, perhaps, it was outdated and no one bothered to delete the information on Furusato. Where was Furusato? We actually had to pass it to find it.

See, Furusato is now in the midst of a neighborhood peppered with small sleazy-looking bars — the kind of neighborhood you don’t bring your teenage daughters to unless you intend to take them on an exposure trip. And we almost turned back, really, because the girls were already getting uncomfortable thinking that Furusato was of the same class as the joints we had passed with their dingy frontage and signs screaming karaoke and GROs with half-naked men (who looked like they had just woken up with a hangover from the previous night’s drinking) manning the entrances.

We didn’t turn back though. The moment my husband saw the Furusato sign, I opened my window, asked the security guard if they were already open for dinner and, after confirming that they were, he proceeded to guide us to the parking slots allotted for Furusato diners.

It’s been over three decades since my last meal at Furusato and those 30 years were evident in the physical environment of the place. Where the dining area used to be glitzy despite the muted lights, the wooden furniture had become worn with time although the pendant lamps looked new. Curiously, the overall old look did not detract from the charm of the place. In fact, it made the place look warm and welcoming with none of the cold industrial look of modern restaurants that almost always makes me flinch.

There were still those large tables and benches covered with futons. The kitchen with the see-through glass panes dominated the center of the first floor dining hall. We were handed copies of well-worn menus and I was thrilled to note that the food served at Furusato had the same unassuming “hometown” quality that made me fall in love with it the first time. We placed our orders and waited excitedly for the food.

Now, note that it was the first Furusato experience for my husband and daughters. As a family, we have dined at so many Japanese restaurants around Metro Manila and I felt a little trepidation that they would find the food at Furusato plain and unexciting. But as soon as our orders began to arrive, all my worries dissipated.

casaveneracion.com Oyakojyu, sweet soy sauce flavored pan fried chicken and eggs served on a bed of rice and topped with green onions

Oyakojyu, sweet soy sauce flavored pan fried chicken and eggs served on a bed of rice and topped with green onions

My husband was so pleased with his oyakojyu (sweet soy sauce flavored pan fried chicken and eggs served on a bed of rice and topped with green onions) that he offered me a bite as though to prove he wasn’t exaggerating when he said the chicken was ultra tender and delicious. There was miso soup, tori kushiyaki (grilled chicken braised in teriyaki sauce), tonkatsu rolls (tonkatsu served as rolled sushi), Furusato’s signature futomaki (so huge that the girls appeared shocked and wondered if a piece could be eaten in one go) and, of course, the thing that had me dreaming of Furusato for over 30 years — ‘sukiyaki’ that is just as wonderful as I remembered.

casaveneracion.com Kushiyaki, grilled chicken braised in teriyaki sauce

Kushiyaki, grilled chicken braised in teriyaki sauce

casaveneracion.com Furusato's signature futomaki

Furusato's signature futomaki

casaveneracion.com Sukiyaki, best eaten with raw egg in a separate bowl

Sukiyaki, best eaten with raw egg in a separate bowl

Furusato isn’t a hip place the way that restaurants have become associated with fashion and style. There’s no hype associated with Furusato and it doesn’t even boast of celebrity chefs. It’s simply a place you go to when you want really good Japanese food. And the fact that it’s still there and still serving the same comforting food for over 30 years should be enough testimonial for itself.

Does the unassuming image of Furusato mean that the food is inexpensive? A meal for four people would be anywhere from P3,000 to P5,000 depending on the items ordered. Order kobe beef with your sukiyaki instead of US angus and that jacks up the price. But if you’re the kind of diner who doesn’t mind paying a hefty price for really good food, you’ll like Furusato.

Comments

  1. peterb says

    I think Little Tokyo is the one beside Makati Cinema Square. I sometime pass there around lunchtime when i was still in Makati. Lots of Japanese folks. So i guess they feel it’s authentic enough. Never had the chance to eat there yet. Tabi tabi ata sila dun na Japanese restos.

    There’s also this one along Legaspi Street in Makati. Mga 2 years pa lang ata or less. I used to work in the same street and at night lots of fancy cars are parked outside it.

    All this Japanese food talk is making me crave for salmon sashimi! Yum! :)

    • says

      Ah ok. Since Sam is in CSB, we’ve been eating a lot in the Manila-Pasay-Makati area. Will check out Little Tokyo.

      Now, salmon sashimi… have I mentioned that salmon is my favorite fish in the whole world? LOL

  2. Gabby says

    Did the Furusato in Makati close down?

    Mom-Sass, my mom and dad have told me stories about the Furusato from 30 years ago. When she was ‘infanticipating’ while pregnant with me, all she craved was sushi from Furusato. They went everyday and sat at the sushi bar. The Japanese sushi chef took such a liking to my pregnant mom that he’d bring back fish from Japan and make special rolls especially for her.

    Of course, that was before studies of sushi being bad for pregnant women came out. My mom had many complications in the later stage of her pregnancy, and I was born 2 months premie, with a severe case of jaundice. Not sure if it’s amount of sushi she ate in the early months, or something unrelated completely that caused problems. But I was definitely born to LOVE sushi even as a small child.

    But my parents left for the U.S., so when I was growing up, I only went to Furusato maybe once. The adults I grew up with preferred Zen, Sugi, and Kimpura. Oh, and I remember when Saisaki came our with the All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. That was a huge hit with my growing male cousins back in the early 90s.

    I’m missing the Philippines, as I normally do after reading your blog.

    • says

      Yes, Furusato in Makati closed down years ago. We asked the people at Furusato Rxas Blvd. about it and we were told it had to do with the construction of the MRT.

  3. says

    Hello! I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime on RSS now…

    Now that salmon sashimi is mentioned, where would you suggest to go for a good serving? It’s my boyfriend’s favorite and would like to take him someplace that has good, fresh salmon sashimi. Thanks!

    ~Dea

  4. says

    hi connie,

    i have been following your site for a time now. thanks for this feature on furusato. Miss going to it. the chicken looks delicious! its till a toss up between kimpura and furusato for me just like peterb

  5. khaijei says

    just an addition…

    furusato has a branch in Magallanes.. my friend was fortunate enough to be the owners step daughter.. juz been there last night,, the place is so nice… and i love the statue at the front.. my friend told me the name of that particular statue.. anyway i so Love it!!

  6. peterb says

    Ah…Furusato…yeah..good food. Still a toss up between Kimpura and Furusato for me. When i was still studying me and my cousins jokingly order based on which had the higher price to the trepidation of our parents. LOL

    It’s good that they’ve maintained the taste. I also haven’t been back there in a long time. I know your also a fan of Suzukin. They have a branch in Mandaluyong along Luna Mencias. I was there about 2 months ago…medyo iba na eh. Ako pa naman nag suggest, oh well.

  7. says

    Suzukin also has a branch in Cainta along Ortigas Avenue Extension. And we often pass the main in Kamagong and noticed that it’s now open for franchising. But I think they’re repacking the image of the place as a bar/watering hole which is probably why the food isn’t the same like you said. We haven’t gone there to eat — not since the Mile Long branch folded up.

  8. says

    Hey Connie,
    If you really like some japanese food, try the ones in little tokyo ;) they are great, clean flavors, very high quality. If you prefer sushi, the best fish I believe comes from Tsukiji (not the seafood market in Tokyo) along arnaiz :D Eating their sushi will make you feel the ocean ;)

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