Our Nippon nook

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Sunday, August 10, 2014


DAVAO City and Japan has a shared history of struggles and dreams that oldies know, but the new migrants may not even be aware of. We were once an unofficial district of Japan called Davaoku. It is this long history that has brought to our shores the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai School and the Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku (Mindanao International College) along Mamay Road where many children with Japanese blood learn more about that part of their DNA and other students get to appreciate this neighboring Asian culture and arts.

With that comes… food.

Just a stone’s throw away, a little bit further down the road in this row of one-storey stalls beside the Sea Urchin Seafood Restaurant (it’s the one-storey building with a parking lot in front that is on the left if you’re coming from J.P. Laurel Avenue right after the school).
In that row of small establishments are two tiny Japanese restaurants run by… Japanese.

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Miggy said the one they tried two weeks earlier was the one that offered grilled stuff. Marivi and brother Bam were already seated at the other one – Kamo Japanese Restaurant where six Japanese men were enjoying a meal and some drinks.

Right at the electric grille, the kitchen boy was cooking what looked like a cross between a hamburger and an omelet except that it was huge and thick.

It’s an Okonomiyaki, he said, and it comes in pork, squid, beef, shrimp, and fish. Okonomiyaki are Japanese grilled pancakes, and no, not the pancake as we know it, but cakes of veggies and meat or seafood cooked on a hot grill.

I was tempted to get one, except that Miggy decided to have that too. She got the shrimp. I’d rather just taste what she got and try something else.

I opted for the meal set that goes with rice, viand, and soup… and chose the shrimp meal set, that goes with three large shrimps tempura style.
Marivi ordered the beef meal set, while Bam got one of the Okonomiyaki.

The tempura shrimps tasted like… tempura shrimps. With shrimp that is wrapped in batter and deep-fried, you can’t really change the taste much.

The freshness of the shrimp will dictate your quality. Mine was fresh, even the cat loved it. (Oops! I mean, I love cats and there was a stray who have eyed me as the only sucker in the whle parking lot and so posted himself right beside my chair and was engaging me in a staring contest.

It first got my small slice of pork that goes with the meal set and Marivi’s after that, before it got a share of my shrimps).

The Okonomiyaki tastes like a giant Takoyaki, the one that you buy shaped like small balls in the mall made of veggies and some tiny pieces of meat or fish held together by flour.

Miggy also ordered a few fried stuff from the other tiny restaurant, the crab and squid sticks that tasted like battered deep fried crab and squid.

Over-all, the experience was fun, although don’t except cuisine. From the looks of it, it must be like the sidewalk stalls that we have. So don’t expect the sushis and the sashimis and most of all, don’t even go looking for uni.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 10, 2014.

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