The restaurant group that brought to the local food scene the katsu place Yabu and the Hakata-style ramen of the world-famous Ippudo has just opened an all-Japanese food hall in BGC.
Called Kiwami Food Hall, the concept brings together four Japanese staples—ramen, tendon, yakitori and tonkatsu—under one roof. Ramen and tonkatsu cravings will be taken care of by the Ippudo and Yabu stalls respectively, but the tendon and yakitori providers are new additions to John Concepcion’s Standard Group. These are Hannosuke and Yakitori Hachibei, both franchises with rich histories of their own.
Hannosuke is one of Japan’s foremost tempura spots. In Tokyo, you’ll know you’re at Hannosuke when you see a queue of customers lining the block from the shop entrance.
Founder Chef Kaneko Hannosuke created his tempura recipes in the 1950s, and passed them on to his grandson, Shinya Kaneko who now runs the business. Hannosuke is known for its voluminous bowls of Edomae-style tempura tendon, with eel or unagi as the star of the dish. The tendon is served in uniquely designed “aritayaki” porcelain bowls built to retain heat and shaped to support the dish’s toppings. Fragrant sesame oil, delicate Japanese flour, and an heirloom tendon sauce recipe means that big-flavor tempura dishes are always within reach.
Yakitori Hachibei, for its part, is a family-founded business that’s been serving yakitori since 1983. Chef Katsunori Yashima’s mission is bringing “Butabara to the world,” or creating Hakata-style yakitori, where butabara, or grilled pork belly skewers, are the most popular. Binchotan charcoal, which is a first-class charcoal made from oak trees, takes up permanent residence in Hachibei’s kitchens. It burns cleanly with dry heat instead of smoke and flame, coaxing out flavors of perfectly crafted yakitori. Hachibei yakitori can be enjoyed seasoned with yuzu kosho “shio,” or salt seasoned with dried yuzu and green pepper, or “tare,” a signature teriyaki sauce.
Meanwhile, the well-loved Yabu is celebrating its 10th anniversary in the Philippines this November. It will be remembered that Yabu kicked off Manila’s big katsu craze in 2011–and introduced Filipinos to “Kurobuta”—serving top-quality dishes developed in partnership with katsu master Kazuya Takeda, a Michelin Bib Gourmand-starred katsu chef. To this day, fresh panko breadcrumbs are made daily to get the requisite crisp, golden, and spiky texture on Yabu’s katsu dishes.
When the ramen trend was at its height in Manila early in the previous decade, there was one Japanese ramen foodies were wishing a restaurant group would bring in: Ippudo’s. The Standard Group stepped up to the plate and brought in the Hakata-style ramen with tonkotsu broth to Manila. Founded in 1985 by Shigemi Kawahara, dubbed Japan’s Ramen King and a three-time Ramen Master Chef Hall of Famer, Ippudo now has more than 280 outposts worldwide. According to Standard Group, Manila’s Ippudo ramen broth is imported straight from Japan, and the ramen bowls are topped with slow-cooked torched chashu.
Within the food hall, there’s a Japanese-inspired bar that’s serves a selection of crafted highballs, or patrons may opt for a pour of Sapporo on tap. There’s also a Hokkaido milk soft serve bar, where diners can enjoy smooth soft serve with a lengua de gato cone made in house daily, or served in a cup with kuromitso boba.
Kiwami Food Hall’s space was designed by Tokyo-based architectural firm Studio MYU. The interiors are dominated by warm wooden beams decorated with indigo noren prints. The space is big enough for customers to dine-in safely. A large al fresco seating area and a fully vaccinated staff give Kiwami Food Hall all the right ingredients to be this weekend’s Japanese culinary destination. The place can seat 74 diners max but it’s only currently doing 30 percent capacity.
The food hall is located at the Lower Ground, C3 Bonifacio High Street Central, Bonifacio Global City. Store hours are from 10AM to 10PM weekdays, and 10AM to 11PM on weekends. Proof of vaccination is required for dine-in customers. For updates, follow @kiwamifoodhall on Instagram or Facebook.