Sashimi heaven tucked in BF Homes, Parañaque...
Since I had chosen steak over Japanese food during my birthday, I was quite hankering for some sashimi and sushi on my brother's birthday, several days later. I had been eyeing Hanakazu for a while now, and the Japanese gods must have heard my plea because apparently, my brother's girlfriend had made reservations at this sashimi heaven.
A nice restaurant facade with a spacious area for parking occupying both the front and the side, beckons to you as you drive along Aguirre Ave. right before crossing Elizalde St. in BF. Even with a large parking area, cars can still be seen lining the street, emergency lights blinking as they wait for diners inside to go, so they can have a turn -- a testament to this Japanese restaurant's popularity. Walking through the door, the interiors are simple yet clean. Its large space houses several private or function rooms filled mostly with Japanese men and women. Behind the sushi counter is the owner, Chef Hiroaki Otsuka, former chef of Tsukiji. A very shy man, he usually avoids having his picture taken, but is still friendly enough to answer queries about his fare.
We were given Maguro Tatsutaage, which was fried breaded tuna slices, to start the meal. Nice and crisp, it only made me eager for the dishes to come.
This Japanese roll was beautiful, both in presentation and taste. When dining at Japanese restaurants, there are few things more irritating than eating sticky Japanese rice with slim to none ingredients. Here, the rice was in good proportion with the fillings; furthermore, the crunch of the tempura was distinct amid a special sauce.
What set this apart from the ordinary California Maki was the tamago and cooked kani included in the usual mango, cucumber and kani roll. Moreover, these additional elements were pretty much the culprit for its size. I could finish one whole order and call it a day if I weren't anticipating all the sashimi I've been dreaming of for weeks.
The best part of almost, if not all kinds of fish is the fatty belly, also known as toro. Succulent salmon with its gleaming orange color beguiles with that come-hither look, so enticing that I can't help but to sneak one into my mouth before my mom noticed that a piece of her prized dish had gone missing. Devoid of any fishy taste, just pure fresh raw salmon sapidity ensconced in a radiant glow, I uttered whispers of expletives before stealthily devouring another piece and glancing the other way when my mom started giving me the look.
A gorgeous plate of the freshest sashimi you will ever eat, how could you not fall in love? Ama Ebi (spot prawns), Ika (squid), Salmon, Tuna and Hamachi (yellowtail fish) comprise the dish for tonight. Yes, the Sashimi Mix (and even the Special Sashimi Mix) differs depending on what is currently available, and what the chef deems new and good ones to try. Each one even more lustrous and immaculate than the last, I sighed in pure satisfaction of their impeccable freshness.
I haven't thought about eating raw beef before, but when you get a taste of this, you'll be sorry for not having thought of it sooner. Imagine, beef---Wagyu beef---slices, literally melting in your mouth. It was so good, I wanted to cry. To which my brother retorted that I actually did 'coz he was sitting right in front of me---laughing at my dazed expression (!)---the whole time. A sauce plate with ginger and spring onions was placed on the side for you to pour over some Japanese soy sauce. As I hated ginger, I alternated between having some and having just the plain soy sauce with a little wasabi -- the freshly grated kind. In the end, my family let me have the remaining slices, but not before I politely (albeit insincerely) asked if anyone else wanted to have more.
Covered in crisp, thin batter---just how I like my tempuras---are 6 pieces of prawns. While good, this was unfortunately overshadowed by the other stellar dishes it accompanied.
This one I didn't get to try. It was my brother's girlfriend's order, and I had to rein myself from taking a bite after making her wait for a long time while I took pictures of everything. It did look good, though, with its strips of chicken brushed with a glimmering sweet sauce.
Served in a cauldron-like pot, the Sukiyaki's warm sweet savory broth perfumed the air. A single golden yolk sat right smack in the middle, and I was almost tempted to unleash its glory and let it run, only I knew my mom would whack my hand away the second she sees it nearing the egg. Thin slices of tender U.S. beef in a tangle of noodles and vegetables gave a pleasant heat to my stomach after devouring a large number of raw meat. I eagerly slurped the soup like there was no tomorrow, ladylike manners be damned.
My brother must have had the time of his life laughing at me all through dinner, for when I brought a forkful of this Unagi into my mouth, I couldn't help but close my eyes in sheer ecstasy. I was just starting to engrave the flavors into my mind when it all but melted away, leaving a trail of sweetness in its path. It was the softest and most delicate unagi I have ever had the pleasure of eating, and I wanted more. Never mind that we all had agreed to share everything. A veneer of its sauce glinted and flirted with no mercy, and I succumbed selfishly, powerless to refuse a few bites more.
All I can say is this was definitely a dinner to remember. If you want a taste of sashimi that's of outstanding caliber, you have to---no, must---try Hanakazu.
Spot: 108 Aguirre Ave. BF Homes, Parañaque
Contact Nos.: 850.2512 or 807.3261 or 0917.886.7276