Yayoi of Japan comes to Manila
Craving for authentic Japanese food?
Fans of real deal Japanese dishes will rejoice at the opening of restaurant chain Yayoi offering Japan’s hugely popular teishoku (set-menu dining) concept in Manila.
Teishoku is a home-style pre-set meal consisting of a main dish of meat or fish, always with miso soup and a steaming bowl of rice. The concept builds from the said basics according to the chef’s seasonal fancies like tsukemono or pickles, tofu and vegetables.
Established 130 years ago, Yayoi began in the historic Meiji era that opened Japan’s doors to the west.
Today, the restaurant has over 300 outlets located all over Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, Australia, and now the Philippines.
Yayoi Philippines managing directors Yvonne Yao and Jacqueline Gobing tried Yayoi-Ken for the first time during a visit to Fukuoka and were inspired to bring it to the country.
“Basically we’ve always had a passion for food. We’re foodies and my partner (Gobing) is in the food industry so we’ve always wanted to open up a restaurant whether it’s local concept or franchise. We love Japanese cuisine, so we went to Fukuoka and tried Yayoi. Coincidentally, it was across our hotel and the food was so delicious that we said this is what we want, let’s bring this to Manila. We felt that the Philippine market would really appreciate this kind of flavor and authenticity of traditional Japanese cuisine,” the 24-year-old Yao shared with The Manila Times during the media launch on September 15.
While Filipinos are no strangers to Japanese fare, many restaurants specialize in one type of dish: a ramen bar, a katsu house, a sushi and tempura bar. Yayoi, on the other hand, offers a wide variety of food and beverages.
“Some local concepts of Japanese restaurants, I have to say, are overly fusion. I understand that they want to adapt to the Philippine market, however, you have to consider you’re making Filipinos try Japanese cuisine, you want them to try authentic Japanese food first. So for me, personally, with all the different kinds of sauces, mayonnaise, and whatnot, nothing is [actually]left for the authentic Japanese taste,” the youthful managing director explained.
She added that some of these restaurants hardly come close to the real Japanese palate.
“We believe this concept will really click because we have 30 different dishes and each dish has its own identity,” she said.
According to the duo, they adjusted recipes minimally to make Yayoi flavors appealing to the Filipino taste bud – meaning, basically lessen the saltiness and sweetness of dishes.
A fusion of two worlds is not only apparent in Yayoi’s food items, but also in the restaurant’s East-meets-West, traditional-meets-contemporary approach.
Many elements in the restaurant are imported from Japan. The interiors are modern with unmistakably Japanese aesthetics.
In addition to the usual physical menu, the ordering system makes use of an iPad menu where customers can tap and send their choices to the kitchen, and also monitor the status of their orders real-time. It is a first in the Philippines, and a nod to Japanese techie-ness.
“We have four Japanese head chefs. We also have service staff coming all the way from Japan. So as much as possible we want to bring the atmosphere that when you enter, look at the ambiance, you see the wood textures, which is very Japanese, the greetings and the bowings, everything at Yayoi is authentically Japanese. We wanted to make sure that when you visit Yayoi in Japan, Australia or the Philippines, the look and feel are the same,” Yao told The Manila Times.
Yao and Gobing plan to dot the archipelago with 15 branches in five years.
Yayoi is located at the 3rd Floor, Bridgeway, Building B of SM Megamall. Visit their website at www.yayoi.com.ph and follow them in Facebook – Yayoi Philippines and Instagram – @YAYOIPH.