After weeks of hard work, our boss decided to hold our long overdue 'tsuitachikai' (first day of the month party) at Mangestsu, a fairly new Japanese restaurant located at the Creekside Bldg near Makati Cinema Square.
People may be confused when they first step in, but the setup was a bit familiar to me since it reminded me of the bar we used to go frequently in Tokyo. Every nook and cranny is used both for utility and aesthetics...a typical mark of Japanese space planning. Guests first go through the corridor to the stairs, which resembles a rock garden. And not the kitschy variant, mind you.
There are two dining levels; the second level is a cozy, intimate dining space, with a view of the kitchen. The third level is the general dining area. A unique feature of the third floor, besides being where smoking is allowed, is its adaptability. Wooden mats are rolled to create private spaces between tables. As the number of guests per table vary, these blinds can create the space needed to accommodate them.
As if wooden blinds, warm lighting and light colored walls with dark toned furniture as accents were not oriental enough, they have this ominous, full-set Samurai armor sitting just beside the head of the stairs.
(photo by Ryan Valencia)
Now if you're hoping for the usual Japanese dishes, you'll be in for a surprise. Aside from some dishes, most of the food here are a different approach to Japanese cooking, as developed by Mangetsu's owner/master chef. These dishes, I heard, keeps on evolving as ingredients and techniques change.
Some note-worthy dishes are the Cheese Rice and the Sour and Spicy Deep Fried Chicken. The Cheese Rice is mostly fried rice cooked with mozzarella cheese. And the chicken, not too soft, not too crispy...its like spicy garlic chicken but wuth a hint of tang.
There's also this entrée which we can't seem to figure out if ts potato or sweet potato in what appears to be tempura flakes. It has a light crisp on the outside with a soft, velvety inside. Like an orange colored solid mashed potato. Along with the dip that makes it so mouth watering.
And with the night's killer, the Cold Okra Soup which my boss ordered and recommended, as it tastes interesting...so he says. Its like an okra puree, with almost all its fleshy parts mashed to a pulp, served in a bowl on top of another bowl filled with shaved ice. Like my boss said, it tasted interestingly good...it went well with our cold beer served in a chilled earth ware cup. Some warning though, this is not for the queasy, one of our officemates was not strong enough to hold in this thick, slimy concoction.
Mangetsu scored high with its service and food presentation. As most of the garnishing are ordinary kitchen fare applied ingeniously with the dish. And they have a wide variety of beverages, alcoholic or otherwise, in their selection.
Although opened for almost 3 months now, you'll be surprised with the throves of Japanese nationals that patronize this place.