A Journey to Little Tokyo's Izakaya Kikufuji Restaurant

The best dish of the night - Gyu Kushi of Izakaya Kikufuji!
The best dish of the night - Gyu Kushi of Izakaya Kikufuji! 
A Story to Tell
With the quest of finding a good place to celebrate my mom's birthday, I decided to browse in the net and ask around. Then, my sister made the mission easier by suggesting Little Tokyo. I went to seek advise from my good friend, Keshia, and finally my quest came to an end as Izakaya Kikufuji ended up etched in my notepad-cum-planner.

Antiquated interior of Izakaya Kikufuji Japanese Restaurant
Antiquated interior of Izakaya Kikufuji Japanese Restaurant

Izakaya Kikufuji
Nestled in a humble place called Little Tokyo, Kikufuji is a restaurant specializing on Japanese cuisine with an already established reputation.

The restaurant features a beautifully ornate ambiance that makes you feel like you are dining during the 80s or 90s which may be unintentional since it was actually built during that time. In fact, many foodies are suggesting a renovation for this restaurant because the equipment, design and interior are getting evidently older and perhaps outdated. Although I agree with a renovation, it might probably be better if the management retains the concept (i.e. ornate and authentic feel) because it adds up to the uniqueness of the dining experience.

Preparing some Japanese dish in Izakaya Kikufuji
Preparing some Japanese dish in Izakaya Kikufuji
A Japanese Feast
Now, of course, Kikufuji will not be as famous as it is today without the authentic Japanese dishes it serves. Shall we proceed with the exploration?

Kani Salad Special || P320
Fresh greens with mangoes, corn cobs, kani and fish eggs drizzled by a light dressing
The overly simplistic Kani Salad of Izakaya Kikufuji
The overly simplistic Kani Salad of Izakaya Kikufuji
Normally, I enjoy salads that possess a highly refreshing taste matched with supreme freshness. However, although these characteristics were found in this Kani Salad, I found it excessively simplistic (i.e. approaching but asymptotic to being bland) that killed off the spark.  

On the other hand, it is important to note that based on the reviews of other foodies, the Kani Salad belongs to the top recommendations. 

Spicy Tuna Maki || P240 
Heavenly Spicy Tuna Maki of Izakaya Kikufuji
Heavenly Spicy Tuna Maki that Sparks up the taste buds!
This maki reminded me of the Spicy Toro Maki of Nihonbashi Tei (read more), which is perhaps one of my favorite Japanese restos for maki and sashimi. It had this amazing kick and energizing crunch that will definitely spark up your dining experience!

Yaki Soba || P225
Japanse Noodles - Yakisoba of Kikufuji
Yakisoba - a birthday noodles substitute for my mom's birthday! 
Hmmm, this is perhaps the most forgettable dish I had during this dining experience. However, don't get me wrong, it wasn't awful. It just failed to keep at par with other great dishes served here in Kikufuji.

Chawan Mushi || P120
Kikufuji's own Chawan Mushi Creation
Kikufuji's own Chawan Mushi Creation! 
With such a difficult benchmark to hurdle, this Chawan Mushi dulled in comparison with that of I had in Sugi Japanese Restaurant (read more). It was buoyantly salty with lack of diversity in terms of flavors.

Spicy Tuna Sashimi || P280 
Spicy Tuna Sashimi/Tartare of Izakaya Kikufuji
Spicy Tuna Sashimi/Tartare of Izakaya Kikufuji
Having similarities with the Spicy Toro Sashimi of Nihonbashi Tei and Tempura Tuna Tartare of Teriyaki Boy (read more), this Spicy Tuna Sashimi showed off a tandem of spicy-crunchy flavors that made the dish a must try!

Also, even if I might go for he Tempura Tuna Tartare or Spicy Toro Maki due to their better mix of flavor, the tuna of Kikufuji was evidently the freshest and fullest among the three.

Ebi Tempura (4 pcs) || P205
The affordable but overly bland Ebi Tempura
The affordable but overly bland Ebi Tempura
It was a bit heartbreaking that Kikufuji didn't bring much justice to one of the family favorites in the Japanese cuisine. The Ebi Tempura itself, although noticeably fresh at its peak, was almost tasteless, with the sauce failing to compensate due its overall blandness. Well, I'm not practically sure whether this is the "real Japanese way", but if it is, I think I might go with the way I'm used to.

Ton Katsu || P205
Affordable Tonkatsu of Izakaya Kikufuji in Little Tokyo
Affordable Tonkatsu of Izakaya Kikufuji in Little Tokyo
Honesty compels me to say that the Tonkatsu pales in comparison with that of the famous Katsu places here such as Yabu: House of Katsu (read more)(to name one) in terms of tenderness and texture. However, given the price, I have to admit that the Tonkatsu of Kikufuji is more than decent and tasty enough! It was really a sulit dish for me!

Menchi Katsu || P180
Menchi Katsu of Izakaya Kikufuji
The meatball-like Menchi Katsu - good but ordinary
Featuring a rather toasted flavor, this Menchi Katsu tasted a little more like an ordinary meatball. With this, I recommend the Tonkatsu above this.

Gyu Kushi (1 pc) || P125 
The breathtakingly flavorful Gyu Kushi of Izakaya Kikufuji
The breathtakingly flavorful Gyu Kushi of Izakaya Kikufuji
Introducing, the King of Kings -- Gyu Kushi! This is perhaps the best dish of the night due to the bursting of majestic flavors in every bite. With its highly sensational taste, it awakened all my senses!

Enoki Bacon (1pc) || P52 and Tori Kawa || P40
Bacon-wrapped Golden Mushroom and Chicken Yakitori of Kikufuji
Bacon-wrapped Golden Mushroom and Chicken Yakitori of Kikufuji!
The chicken was really fine but highly predictable. Hence, I suggest that you go for the Enoki Bacon or Bacon-wrapped golden mushroom instead, since it had a ticklish and playful strand-like texture and exciting smokey zest

Gindara || P370 
Gindara in Teriyaki Sauce of Kikufuji Restaurant
The perfect dinner ender - Gindara in Teriyaki Sauce! 
To describe it simply, it was really amazingly fresh and tasty with its sweet smokey sauce sauce minus the fishiness (or "lansa")!

A Not-So-Popular Kid in Izakaya Kikufuji
A Not-So-Popular Kid in Izakaya Kikufuji
Well, there you go! You've reached almost the end of this blog post, but before that, let me greet my mom again a Happy Birthday to immortalize a wonderful memory!

Izakaya Kikufuji Restaurant - Overall Ratings

Note: Unshaded stars are equivalents of half-stars. The ratings were revised based on a more recent dining experience.
Place ★★
Taste  ★★
Service ★★
Value for Money ★★
Budget: P400 and up per head for a group of at least 4 for a moderate dining experience

Dining Tips and Highlights
  • Have a reservation to secure some seats here in Izakaya Kikufuji. Most of the time, they run a full-house. 
  • Never miss the Gyu Kushi because that's the best I've tried so far! 
  • Avoid the salmon onigiri, agedashi tofu, tempura, yakisoba, menchi katsu and chawan mushi, not because they tasted bad, but rather because they were mediocre relative to other dishes they serve here.
  • Go for the sushi, sashimi, yakitori and other grillables, since it seems like these are the specialties. 
  • Never dine alone. Most of the dishes are for sharing, and of course, it is a way to try out more dishes at lower cost per person.

How about you - do you recommend this place?

Izakaya Kikufuji
Location: Little Tokyo, 2277 Chino Roces Avenue, Legaspi Village, Makati City
Service Charge: 10% before VAT
Credit cards are accepted.
Reservation Number: (02) 893 6131

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