Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ogetsu Hime, The Goddess of Food: A Taste of Fresh, Healthy and Authentic Japanese Cuisine in SM Aura, Taguig City

Discover a dining destination at the heart of the central business district where you can experience what it means to have good taste and experience a delightful degustation as you take your taste buds on an unforgettable journey. One does not need to travel to Japan to experience top notch Japanese dining, for Ogetsu Hime is just an hour drive away, located at the Skypark on SM Aura Premier. The owner realized the growing need for fuss-free and sincere service oriented Japanese establishment with the concept of serving only the freshest, purest and natural taste of foods on its menu. Seeing this potential, Ogetsu Hime was born with the sole mantra of offering the freshest and best ingredients to provide their guests the perfect meal. With indulgence as standard, it is commendable for its ample menu of dishes to try. 

In honoring Ogetsu Hime, the food goddess of Japan, the restaurant was named after her. Ogetsu Hime serves Japanese cuisine with a handful of gastronomic choices from top grade Sukiyaki cuts to sumptuous ala carte menus, pleasing even those with discriminating palates with their selection of dishes worthy of gods and goddesses. Ogetsu Hime is indeed a go-to place for anyone who visits the vicinity of SM Aura Premier in Taguig or the Bonifacio Global City business district.

Japanese cuisine is always a sensual treat for me. The success of a Japanese dish largely depends on the freshness of the ingredients and the subtle but technical approach to cooking. And as I've personally experienced, almost all of the authentic Japanese dishes at Ogetsu Hime reflect the character of the Japanese people--restrained, precise, minimal, dedicated, disciplined and creative. Sometimes cooking with so much preparations masks the real intention of a dish--purity is only achieved when a perfect blend of ingredients makes itself known in every bite. And I'd have to say that at this restaurant, the food exactly tastes as it is and as it should be.

Personally, I love Japanese cuisine for its simplicity and sophistication at the same time. At Ogetsu Hime, one gets to taste the natural flavors of whatever ingredient you're eating, presented in the most appetizing yet artistic way. It is an art that flirts with all our senses, balancing the taste, smell, texture, appearance and natural colors of food, using only the freshest ingredients. So one can expect that they only use freshly-flown ingredients from Japan (specialties like sushi and sashimi are flown twice a week), skillfully presented on plates.  Ogetsu Hime chefs masterfully creates a modern spin to traditional recipes. From authentic specialties to regular favorites, they distinctly bring out the soul of Japanese dishes. And by simply doing so, it gives an amazing treat for diners. For those whose personal taste leans towards the healthy way, Ogetsu Hime has made sure that your dining experience with them will be nothing less than excellent. 

At Ogetsu Hime, they demistify Japanese foods to make it more friendly and less intimidating, without removing the fact that it is considered one of the best cuisines in the world. For one, you can even watch your own food being cooked right before your eyes. Sukiyaki are done via table cooking service as well. I love the aromas of furai, the sautéed veggies, the piping hot bowls of sukiyaki, the smoky aromas of teriyaki and teppanyaki, all intermingling into one intoxicating, irresistible aromatic whole. But what I find truly amazing was that despite of the table cooking set up of the said restaurant, one won't smell like onions or beef after having an excellent meal at Ogetsu Hime. 

The restaurant's ambience had that cozy Zen style look and minimalist interiors, but still well lighted. Hence, it invites customers to be comfortable and talk, not just about any experience, but about the most interesting thing at the moment--food! 

Now, let's talk about their food. Ogetsu Hime's from the same people that has introduced Japanese foods to most Filipinos--via Saisaki. But if you think Ogetsu Hime's just another Saisaki, well, you're totally wrong! From the manner of food preparation to cooking from its region of origin and its authenticity, taste, texture, freshness, color, down to the very small detail--Ogetsu Hime does it all. Here's a little trivia which the owner, Mr. Vic Villavicencio shared with us:  It was them who originally started using ripe mangoes in California maki. Originally, avocado's being used. But since it's seasonal here, hence, they've thought of a fruit that 's more feasible. 

I love the clean and subtle flavors of Japanese food at this restaurant. I also adore the artful arrangement of how the food looks. Each plate is like poetry in every sense. Presentation is impeccable. At Ogetsu Hime, I could probably eat Japanese every single day and not get tired of it. 

Ogetsu Hime's sushi rolls are filled and packed with stuffings. The crunchies were really good. I loved their soft shell crab tempura. Light and airy batter and slightly seasoned to emphasize its true and natural flavor. Their spicy tuna rolls reveal not just crunch but also provided flavors that explodes in the mouth. Overall, the different flavors and textures were a great mix. With all those tastes and textures teasing the palate, the sweet-spicy-nutty-savory crunchy taste makes such a perfect appetizer to start off your meal.

Their sashimi and sushi had bright prismatic colors of  red, yellow, green and orange hues served so exquisitely detailed and meticulously done by the sushi chef. It had that fresh and natural sweetness on them too. Wasabi was great, definitely not the powdered ones. Compared to hotels, prices of these awesome goodies will not cost you an arm and a leg. They're all reasonably priced. You'll be getting exactly what you've paid for. 

Teriyaki are done the way they are cooked in Japan, using teppan grill (unlike others that uses gas grill) in exact heat to bring out its natural flavors. They're tender, moist (unlike other teriyaki I've tried that were dry) and juicy, glazed glossily and lightly with their signature teriyaki sauce on the side. Almost melt in your mouth. Perfect even without the sauce. 

My top recommendation would be Ogetsu Hime's Sukiyaki. Thinly sliced beef, shiitake and enoki mushrooms, bean curd and yam noodles in sweetened soya sauce. Try their Matsusaki sukiyaki--the menu says it is "incomparable excellence of black-haired kuroge "Japanese black" from the cattle regions of Matsusaka, Mie, Japan. Hailed as one of the world's best." Depending on your budget, you have other options to try, Ogetsu Prime sukiyaki or US Rib Eye sukiyaki. I was lucky enough to taste all of them, and they're really fantastic! Sukiyaki, regardless of its kind at Ogetsu Hime is exquisite. It is rich and tender, yet subtle. The sweetness of the sauteed onions played well against the buttery beefy goodness of the Sukiyaki. Served alongside other veggies, yam noodles, enoki and shiitake mushrooms, it makes a delectable lunch or dinner. 

We were told that Sukiyaki are best eaten by dipping them on fresh raw eggs. I was hesitant to try it, but I was told it's the way most Japanese do it. But since I was curious with how it tastes like, I've tried it. And I'm so glad I did! Sukiyaki dipped in raw fresh beaten eggs gives it a rather 'creamy' taste and a slimy texture. But it actually adds that somewhat 'sweet-umami' taste on the dish. Oh, and unlike other sukiyakis I've tried, Ogetsu Hime's take on sukiyaki isn't that sweet, but just right. For seafood aficionados, you'll surely love yosenabe--ebi (prawn), shake (Norwegian salmon), Shira (Mahi Mahi), veggies and udon noodles in Dashi Konbu broth. There's gindara, gyoza, hotategai (scallops), even foie gras all bursting with explosive natural flavors, served smartly by Master Teppan Chefs. 

The Japanese Kaki oysters exemplify Ogetsu Hime's aim--to make every meal an interactive dining experience. Each bite is like a party in one's mouth. It reminds me of the sweet and tangy "Angel wings" or more popularly known as "Diwal" which I had tasted in Iloilo City some years back. I can't get enough of these babies, I'd definitely come back to Ogetsu Hime for some more Japanese Kaki oysters.

The twist in most Ogetsu Hime's dishes can be attributed to the ordinary sauce/dressing. One would think that the sauce on the sides were just there to provide a dash of color; who would have thought that dipping a small amount of the sauce could immediately transform a dish? The tuna rolls for example tasted just as good even without the sauce, but roll it once on the side sauce, and voila! It tasted even better. 

Ogetsu Hime's service is also very good because the staff go out of their way to do things for you. Staff are well-trained and very friendly, this is important as customers like to be pampered. One thing about Ogetsu Hime is that they don't give anything of substandard even if the client insists. "We'd rather say "No," than let our customers down by giving them something substandard," says Mr. Villavicencio. Ogetsu Hime sticks to the core: they are more concerned on consistency, standards, service and experience. Every single item on Ogetsu Hime's menu was elevated from the ordinary by the perfect combination of the freshest ingredients and Japanese cooking techniques.

Other restaurants may have the same foods and similar offerings, but at the end of the day, there's just no substitute for good, old-fashioned personalized service. Skypark at SM Aura Premier is now more than just a wonderful place to see the Makati-Taguig skyline but with the emergence of restaurants such as Ogetsu Hime, it has also become an indulging destination for gastronomic adventures as well. 

Go and check out Ogetsu Hime yourself for more tasty surprises. It is one of the best reasons you can have for driving all the way to Taguig. Count my word for it, you'll be glad that you did.

Ogetsu Hime is located at Sky Park, SM Aura Premier, Level 5, 26th Street corner McKinley Parkway, Taguig City

Disclaimer: I am not compensated for this post. Opinions and impressions expressed are my own. 


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