A hole-in-the-wall that produces good, yet very affordable Japanese food...
It has been a while since I stepped into this small, unimposing place of a restaurant. Its facade were of red bricks, and an uninspired sign of its name hang in between two doors set to confuse you where to enter, should you risk doing so. And risk you must, for really, where else can you find good sashimi and other Japanese treats that come with such a relatively cheap price tag?
A caveat: the restaurant's exterior is a bit unremarkable so when cruising along Kamagong St., slow down as you see Caltex, lest you miss this place. You can park at the aforementioned gas station and just walk across the street toward Suzu Kin.
The years have been good, I surmise. The throng of people coming in every few minutes or so is always a good sign. The simple wooden tables and chairs - squarish stools really - are still here. I'm not sure if there was airconditioning, albeit there are enough electric fans to keep the place somewhat cool. I see familiar faces of old ladies in gingham aprons who have served us well far too many times years ago. Gone are the multi-colored cartolinas bearing the names and prices of this eatery's fare. In its stead are faded food shots that fail to whet your appetites and may even cause you to have second thoughts if you hadn't known better.
The Miso Soup (P38) was exactly how I remembered it. I must have consumed this so many times in the past that it became my benchmark when trying out other Japanese restos' version. The warm, savory soup dotted with tofu and fried batter bits trailed down my throat, and the memories it brought somehow made it even more palatable.
And there was the good, old California Maki (P188). The sesame-seed-and-ebiko encrusted sushi rice was just the right proportion for the cucumber, mango and crabstick ensconced in the roll. I just abhor those that serve extremely large portions of rice with my taste buds constantly searching where in the roll the scant fillings have disappeared to.
I'm a sucker for salmon sashimi, but I'm quite picky when it comes to it (isn't everyone?). It has to be fresh and must contain none of that fishy aftertaste. I'm quite happy with Suzu Kin's Salmon Sashimi (P195). Nice pinkish salmon color, check; fresh tasting, check; succulent, check; no fishy aftertaste, check; no hefty price tag, check! It could very well rival its extravagant counterparts from other Japanese houses.
Just when you thought Suzu Kin can't bring out dishes more affordable than what they're already offering, they go out and proffer this All-Day-Everyday-Meal (P123). Here you've got 2 pcs. of ebi tempura, chicken furai, tuna steak, fried fish fillet, pork kushi yaki, and fried dilis, served with rice and soup.
Their Ebi Tempura (P180) may not be the best I've tried, but still far better than most. The fried batter is neither thick nor pasty, and allows you to appreciate the prawn cocooned within.
One of my favorites is their Beef Garlic (P162). As the name suggests, it is indeed stewed with garlic, but it maintains a nice umami flavor and doesn't come off as too garlicky, so to speak. It pairs very well with some steamed rice, though it is still good even without it.
Another favored dish is the Oyster Butter (P184), and I remember a few times when we get so disappointed if we visit and it's not available. The buttered oysters swim in a pool of special sauce that's bursting with flavor. Maybe the fact that I haven't seen this dish anywhere else, gives it all the more that must-have-it-again-now factor.
It was my frist time to try the Coffee Jelly (P75). I didn't even know they had a dessert on the menu. Surprisingly, it was good -- cookies and cream ice cream on top of what seemed like two types of coffee jelly. A great way to end a definitely satisfying meal.
Spot: 9753 Kamagong St. cor. Sampaloc St. San Antonio Village, Makati City
Contact No.: 896.7143