Though I'm not very strict with the no double dipping rule, I still cringe whenever someone I barely know dips his or her bitten food in the communal sauce. I guess that is what Kushikatsu Daruma wants to avoid... a sudden lack of appetite due to what kids call "cooties". Then again this newest addition to Uptown Bonifacio's roster of restaurants have to mess up a whole lot before I lose my appetite for its mouthwatering offerings.
Hello, Kushikatsu Daruma.
I was greeted by modern Japanese interiors and friendly servers who ushered me to my table. Soon, Charlie Paw joined me and suggested that I try Beginner Level (PHP480, 9 sticks).
While waiting for my food, I was given a bowl of greens. It's not exactly a wait snack or appetizer though as it is meant to serve as palate cleanser.
The Beginner Level is composed of Classic Kushikatsu, Prawn, Chicken with Garlic, Tonkatsu, Leeks, Potato, Camembert Cheese, Chikuwa and Tsukune. Unfortunately, they were out of chikuwa and tsukune (chicken meat balls) when I dropped by and these were replaced with shiitake mushroom (PHP59/stick) and quail egg (PHP79/2 sticks).
The sticks were served three at a time and the first thing I noticed was the beautiful golden color of the batter. Charlie mentioned that its flour (for batter) and sauce are sourced from Japan. Even its oil, though not sourced abroad, is not your usual kind in order to achieve the delectable crispy yet not oily coating Kushikatsu Daruma is known for.
I went with quail egg first and it was like your premium kwek-kwek. The delectable quail eggs covered in the crisp batter and dipped in Kushikatsu Daruma's special sauce made me forget my love for the bright orange treat. The sauce, which tasted like a lighter tonkatsu sauce, added flavor to the stick without being overpowering.
Prawn would remind one of tempura. Though good with the special sauce, it made me crave for the usual tempura dip. This is one of my favorites and it is a safe bet for kids. Just add a cup or two of rice and your kids would surely stay put.
Chicken with Garlic is also one a great option to order when with kids. Juicy and garlicky, I enjoyed munching this one with only a light coating of the special sauce.
Tonkatsu or pork loin was pretty good too. However, if I were to compare it with other tonkatsu places, this one won't be on top of my list. But it's part of my top 5.
Classic Kushikatsu, though similar to tonkatsu, was better. The beef was seasoned well and was flavorful enough to be enjoyed as is. The cut of the classis kushikatsu was also a bit bigger than tonkatsu.
The shiitake mushroom, which is not part of the beginner set, was my favorite! The chewy texture of the huge mushroom went well with the crunchy batter. The slight sweet taste of shiitake also made it so addicting.
The potato and camembert cheese were my least favorites in the set but it would be something kids might enjoy as these are similar to potato and cheese balls.
Charlie also let me try Chicken Intestine (PHP79/2 sticks) and Chicken Gizzard (PHP79/2 sticks). The two popular street snacks were "Osaka-fied" and I was definitely curious on how different it would be.
Well, aside from the assurance that you're munching on clean food, these two snacks were also covered in the heaven-sent batter. I enjoyed the chicken intestine more than the gizzard as it was more familiar and didn't have that fear factor texture. (Sorry, I really am not just into gizzards.)
Overall, it was a nice dining experience. Though the dishes are slightly on the expensive side, its superb batter make up for it. I'd definitely go back and stuff myself with more prawns, classic kushikatsu and shiitake mushrooms. I'll also order rice on the side coz... I love the Asian way of dining.
Kushikatsu Daruma is located at 2nd Floor, Uptown Bonifacio, 9th Avenue, Fort Bonifacio.