Monday, February 17, 2014

Ogetsu Hime Opens at SM Aura Premier's Skypark

The people behind Dad's and Saisaki have a surprise for everyone - and that's their newest baby Ogetsu Hime! After giving Filipinos a taste of Japan at a pocket-friendly price, the group is now introducing how Japanese food should really taste like at the Skypark level of SM Aura Premier.

Named after the goddess of food, Ogetsu Hime serves high-grade sushi and sashimi, makimono, robatayaki, tempura, teppanyaki, and sukiyaki. The only thing they have seemed to have left our are the katsu, ramen, and dessert!

You really cannot miss the huge restaurant with the big glass entrance and prominent signage in front of the store and by the elevator going up to the chapel. The staff are all dressed in traditional Japanese garb, and they cheerily greet everyone as they come in and leave the place.

Ogetsu Hime is decked out in natural wood giving the place a luxurious yet inviting touch. The big, comfortable chairs surround two big teppanyaki tables and there are several private booths equipped with sukiyaki pots for those who would rather enjoy a more intimate setting.

The sushi and sashimi at Ogetsu Hime can only be described as mini works of art! Each piece was very fresh, the scallops still smelled of the sea, and the shrimp was oh so creamy!

I have Master Chef Isao Takada to thank for this. He came to the Philippines in 1980 and started working in Saisaki since 1985 at the then newly opened EDSA-Greenhills branch as one of the pioneering chefs. With the Saisaki group's newest venture, he shines with all the elegant dishes he painstakingly plates for each customer.

I enjoyed some of the frshest Hamachi (Japanese Yellowtail) I had ever had, tasted my first ever sweet and creamy Amaebi (Hokkaido Sweet Shrimps), thoroughly enjoyed the Hotategai (Hokkaido Japanese Scallops), and marveled at just how beautifully the Anago (Saltwater Eel) and Engawa (Japanese Halibut) were presented.

I thought the sushi and sashimi were pretty, but my jaw dropped when I saw the plate of Rainbow Batera - a batera-molded sushi roll topped with tuna, salmon, ika, kani, shime saba, and ebi, flavored with an assortment of Ogetsu Hime sauces. It was like little pieces of art framed on rectangular molds of Japanese rice. It was almost too pretty to eat! But eat it I did, and enjoyed all the different textures, tastes, and toppings each one had to offer.

My favorite of the fresh line up was the Ogetsu Hime Roll - the furikake and sesame crusted roll was filled with ebi tempura, cream cheese, topped with a slice of avocado, unagi, unagi sauce and kochukaru mayonnaise. All the flavors and textures of meaty, soft, crunchy, and creamy melded together beautifully, with a touch of heat at the end. I wanted more of this!

The Tokubetsu California Roll, on the other hand, was very fresh on the palate. This special California roll is filled with with unagi, ebi tempura, kani, and asparagus, topped with avocado, mango, ebiko, nori with a mango-honey and unagi sauce.

What's a better way to polish off all the sushi, sashimi, and fresh rolls than with a refreshing Ripe Mango Shake? When in the Philippines, have as many mango shakes as you can, is my advice.

I watched the teppan chefs get to work after, in complete awe of how they put together the simple-yet-complicated-looking Chahan Moriawase. I love how organized my chef was, slowly incorporating the vegetables and meat into the rice and scrambled eggs.

What I got was the perfect bowl of chahan! Their secret seems to be just the right amount of garlic butter - the smell takes over your senses and it seemed to make even the simple bowl of fried rice taste absolutely amazeballs!

I was also presented with a beautiful cut of Matsusaka beef ready to be cooked teppanyaki style. Check out that marbling! I appreciate how the chef first asked me how I like my beef. I said medium, but as the world famous Matsusaka Beef of Japan is known for it's incomparable flavor, juiciness, tenderness, and marbling, I should've settled for rare.

The beef was cooked perfectly, and was soft and pink on the inside. We asked to have the fat cooked 'til well done, so we had that fatty crunch with our oh-so-tender cut of beef.

I also had the Shira (Mahi Mahi), which was super fresh and cooked nicely, still firm when I picked it up with my chopstick but practically melting in my mouth after I dipped it in the sauce.

Jericho went Kaki (Oysters) crazy. Lol. These plump little suckers are flown in from Hokkaido twice a week, so you know what you're getting is super fresh. Check out the color on those babies. It can't get any fresher than that!

In the tempura department, Ogetsu Hime veers away from the traditional prawns and offered their exquisite Soft Shell Crab Tempura. Not as oily as I initially thought they'd be, I was pretty happy with the crunch it let out when I bit into it after dipping it into the golden dashi sauce.

The Gindara Teriyaki was really, really good, with broiled Japanese Silver Cod giving having a smokey undertone with each bite.

Lastly, I had a generous bowl of Ogetsu Prime Sukiyaki. Our server prepared this for the table, so we just sat back and enjoyed the delicious fumes coming out of the sukiyaki pot as the beautiful red meat sizzled 'til they were cooked through. Then in went the rest of the vegetables and the sukiyaki broth.

The server asked if I would want to have my sukiyaki with egg, that I understood as to have it incorporated with the sukiyaki. So you could understand my surprise when I was presented with a bowl with a whisked egg. She then explained that you dip the beef into the raw egg, to enjoy a creamier texture. Ahhh...

Overall, the sukiyaki was delicious! Not as soupy as the ones you'd get at most places, this is how sukiyaki is supposed to be.

Thank you to the adorable Master Chef Takada and VJ Villavicencio for sharing your beautiful restaurant and delicious Japanese fare with me! It really was such a treat! I will definitely be back to try more of the rolls, the teppan, and the sukiyaki!

So if you ever find yourself mucking around SM Aura Premier craving for some really good Japanese fare, make a beeline for Ogetsu Hime! Surprisingly not as expensive as you'd think it would be, the food is worth every penny!

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Ogetsu Hime
+63 2 519 9840
+63 917 809 6585
Level 5, SM Aura Premier,
26th Street corner McKinley Parkway,
Open Daily: 10am - 9pm