Japanese food celebrates the premium of essence. I am amazed at how the best Japanese chefs are able to harness the freshness of the ingredients before working their culinary magic on a dish.
While my weeks of experience in Japan do not stand against the palates of those who have lived in the Land of the Rising Sun their entire lives, I’ll take what I can and continue to learn more about Japanese cuisine.
When I received an invite to partake of “A Seafood Spectacle” hosted by the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro), my mind raced at the possibility of getting to visit Japan again. I think eating is one way of traveling; when local business owners strive for authenticity, they not only serve delicious food but also contribute to tourism. Hence, a food trip.
The dinner was held on Jan. 25, 2024 at Kazuwa Prime in Nustar Resort & Casino. Joining some friends from the media and special guests representing the Cebu dining scene, we delighted ourselves at some of the freshest seafood flown in from Japan — thanks to the services of partner company, Hightower Inc. which operates as an importer, distributor and vendor of frozen Asian seafood, among other food items.
If I closed my eyes, the chawanmushi (Japanese steamed egg custard) transported me back to Nara. The uni (sea urchin) matched the ones I’ve had at Kyoto — sweet, rich and creamy.
Makoto Sudo, director of Jetro Manila, shared how Jetro recognized the demand for more Japanese seafood here in Cebu. “Many restaurants and supermarkets were interested,” Sudo said. “I like to spread not only in Metro Manila but in the second biggest city.”
For appetizers, we enjoyed the tako wasabi (octopus) and the chawanmushi. For soup, we had the warm and comforting seafood wakame (seaweed) soup. For mains, we had sashimi, sushi and tempura moriawase (selections). These were not only delectable but a visual feast to behold.
Personally, I enjoyed going through an educational tuna tour. The sashimi set featured standouts like chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), otoro (fattiest part of the tuna belly) and the akami (tuna red meat; low fat but flavorful).
For teppanyaki (a Kazuwa Prime specialty), we had scallop and squid — before diving into dessert, the sweet and delicious Hokkaido millé crêpe — thin crepes layered on top of each other prepared with milk from Hokkaido.
For drinks, we had glasses of Hino Shizuku Yuzu Sake, Miyakanbai Junmai-Daiginjo and Mutsu Hassen Ginko Pink Label.
I visited Japan that Thursday night, without the need to pack or apply for a visa. While the menu served was a specially curated one highlighting how Cebu can get its hands on some of the freshest Japanese seafood, I believe it’s a sign of better things to come — complementing our handful of excellent Japanese restaurants in the metropolis.
Speaking of which, Kazuwa Prime is certified by Jetro as a “Japanese Food and Ingredients Supporter.”
“This prestigious accreditation highlights Kazuwa’s dedication to delivering a genuine Japanese dining experience, with a special emphasis on seafood and sake from Japan,” the restaurant stated on its website.
Thank you, seatmate Sudo-San and Jetro. May you enjoy Bantayan on your next visit to Cebu. Until the next meal — itadakimasu!