(THE PHILIPPINE INQUIRER/ANN) - There are only two rules. One: eat the food fast—it is best enjoyed fresh and hot from the kitchen. And two: no double dipping.
At each table in Kushikatsu Daruma, there is a tub of sauce for sharing—tonkatsu-like but not as thick, sweet but not cloyingly so with a hint of sesame. Everything on the menu can be dipped in this secret sauce (it is flown in from Japan)—from the deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables that people in Osaka line up for to the bowl of veggies served as palate cleansers.
Entrepreneur Charles Paw first discovered Kushikatsu Daruma in Osaka. “There’s always a line there, it’s always packed.” And since the first time he tried it, he had to keep going back. “It’s addictive,” said Mr Paw. “It’s simple food but you crave it.”
He decided to bring it to Manila. “I thought it would click so I said, let’s try it.”
Kushikatsu Daruma has been serving “everything on a stick” since 1929. The skewers, lightly battered and perfectly fried, are really good—no wonder people can eat 15 to 20 sticks at a time. (We ate 17 and we're proud of it.)
If you are a first timer, order: The Beginner Level Set which includes nine sticks for P480 ($13.48): classic kushikatsu (beef), prawn, chicken with garlic, chikuwa (fishcake), tsukune (chicken meatballs), tonkatsu, leeks, potato, Camembert cheese.
More daring diners can go for the Advanced Level Set which includes 11 sticks for P480: classic kushikatsu, chicken heart, chicken intestine, pork intestine, chicken gizzard, garlic, okra, gyoza, white onion, leeks and tonkatsu. You can also order each stick separately—there are 30 to choose from. Seasonal items like Japanese oyster, wagyu beef cubes and foie gras are now available.
Our favourites: The classic kushikatsu, prawn, chicken with garlic, chicken intestine, garlic, Camembert cheese, quail egg (it might just be the best kwek kwek we've eaten) and foie gras (we loved it). Don't skip the garlic—it’s so good.
Drink: Beer No. 1, craft beer by Boondocks Brewing Co., the Watermelon Refresher, the yummy Lychee Chu-Hai. Try the Tipsy Bacon, too. Kushikatsu Daruma will soon be open until 3 a.m.—perfect for drinking nights with the barkada. And San Miguel Pale Pilsen and San Miguel Light are only P65.
“I want this to be an affordable place for drinking,” said Mr Paw.
Super tip: Skip the rice and enjoy the skewers with beer, sake, soju or cocktails. But if you really, really need the carbs, Kushikatsu Daruma will be serving rice bowls.
Fast forward: Around 20 more sticks will be added to the menu including seasonal items.
Kushikatsu Daruma is now open at Uptown Mall BGC.