Murakami: On a budget but in dire need of Japanese inspired food? Remember that name!

260 Shoe Avenue, San Roque, Marikina City

260 Shoe Avenue, San Roque, Marikina City

Marikina City has quite a few dining gems that the greater Metro Manila has yet to have even heard of. I’m not really sure if Murakami can be included in that list, but me and my girlfriend liked it. It’s far better than that much more expensive Japanese themed restaurant in Cubao.ย It offers Japanese inspired dishes at affordable prices. Locals seem to reciprocate well to it. It was pretty much full when we got here on a hot Sunday evening.

Haziel got to try this place with her former officemate once and they liked the Spicy Ramen. This time around she was craving for some sashimi, and being the good boyfriend that I am, we took a cab from Concepcion to Shoe Avenue to get some. Hope she’s reading this post. ๐Ÿ™‚

They have a sushi bar!

They have a sushi bar!

Murakami is a Japanese name but I’d wager that it was not the inspiration for the restaurant’s moniker. The place is not very big but with very good flowing AC. Perfect for a hot summer night.ย All around us were families, groups of friends, and one other couple that was dressed far more stylish than we did. All were chatting away freely and seemed to really be enjoying their time.

Murakami has an extensive menu but, to my bitter disappointment, they didn’t have karaage. They have a plethora of ramen offerings but here’s a hint… don’t order ramen. There’s a pretty good Happon Ramen House just a few minutes away for your ramen fix.

Murakami 2

Thanks to some “friends” I have in my tummy that caused me to be hospitalized for a week in 2013, I can’t eat raw stuff (especially meat) for fear of a relapse. So no tasting of the Sashimi for me. I did get to try a number of stuff and, overall, found the taste pretty darn okay. So let’s get right down to the dishes!

Tuna and Salmon Sashimi

Not super fresh, but at least not old

Not super fresh, but at least not old

It was very late on a Sunday evening in Marikina. I’m betting these were chilled from earlier in the day. Yeah, I don’t think these pieces of fish are really fresh. But the meat still looks pretty good. The cuts are also relatively larger than what you’ll usually see in Japanese restos here in the Philppines. Haziel’s Sashimi craving was certainly fixed with these.

Rich Tonkotsu Ramen

It's not rich and it's not really tonkotsu

It’s not rich and it’s not really tonkotsu

Say Tonkotsu Broth to me and I’ll pretty much order it immediately. I love me a really thick bowl of Tonkotsu based Ramen with that collagen forming on top. That savory taste of pork married with different other ingredients is to die for!

I didn’t get that with this. The soup was flat and really tasted like seafood, so I guess I got ripped-off? I ordered the snack size and it was already 200 Php! It costs more than any of the larger bowls in Happon!

Ramen constructed like the good ole' Filipino Mami

Ramen constructed like the good ole’ Filipino Mami

When the price of the bowl is running in the 200 range I’d expect, aside from the taste, beautiful “plating”. Here it just looked like everything was piled-on haphazardly and then a copious amount of soup was poured on everything.

The noodles looked. and tasted, like mami noodles you get from a normal mami house. They put wedge of a hard boiled egg that’s a far cry from a ramen house tamago. A couple of slices of lechon kawali (not Chashu but does taste good), and some veggies including mushrooms and bamboo shoots round out this overpriced bowl of mami. I did not enjoy eating this.

Gyoza, Jumbo Gyoza

Huge!

Huge!

Nitpicking. The wrappers were too thick and too fried. With their size this was akin to eating lumpia. But that’s just nitpicking. These were actually pretty good.

Murakami - Jumbo Gyoza up close

That is quite an oily plate, isn’t it? But look at juicy filling in that Jumbo Gyoza! Dang!

The filling, though not as good as Yushoken’s, were amazing. It was moist, juicy, and had a good blending of minced meat and herbs. They were served piping hot, a fact I found out the hard way. I was actually glad to have a bowl of soup under my mouth as juices dripped out of the dumplings as I bit into one. I hope they can improve that wrapper though. But if they really want these to be big then I guess extra thick wrappers are necessary to prevent them from breaking.

Wouldn’t it be funny if these be called “Japanese Lumpia”? Think about it.

Crunchy California Maki Roll

America, Japan, and Filipino meet in one dish.

America, Japan, and Filipino meet in one dish.

This is definitely not a traditional Japanese sushi but to hell with that!

The California Maki is covered with crispy tempura bits then that sweet and tangy mayo whatever-it’s-name-sauce is carefully (and quite generously) slattered on top. A purist will be very much against this and condemn whoever made it. I am not a purist, and I love this!

The sauce combined with the fresh taste of mango and cucumber with that little kani is a match made in taste paradise! The added texture of the tempura bits are not really necessary but I guess it helps bind the sauce with the maki roll in way that it won’t seep in to the rice. I almost (almost!) ordered another batch of these but bailed out at the last minute. They’re only 130 Php and I could just eat several orders of these in one sitting and be very satisfied.

Ruminations…

They don’t really market themselves as a true Japanese restaurant so don’t be expecting them to be that. If it was an authentic Japanese restaurant it should be in Japan. Or at least the food takes a long time to be served given the legendary meticulousness of Japanes chefs. It certainly will be very expensive as well. I cannot stress this enough, manage your expectations people!ย But if they’re going to charge me 200 Php for a small bowl of Ramen? Then I expect them to deliver on that and give me a damn good bowl of Ramen!

Japanese Coke is very tall but tastes just like Coke! Huh!

Japanese Coke is very tall but tastes just like Coke! Huh!

At the end of the day, Haziel got her Sashimi fix and I discovered a wonderful sushi roll. If you’re sayin “Hey! I thought you can’t eat raw stuff?! Why are you eating raw mangoes, cucumber, and chilled crab meat in that Maki?!” It’s a risk I’m willing to take. YOLO! (Inner douchebag surfacing!)

Except for that small ramen bowl, I was pretty much satisfied with my Murakami experience. Check it out when you’re in the area.

Have you tried Murakami in Marikina? Did you like it as much as I did? Tell me about it by leaving a comment below! You can also reach me through the following:

Email me at metromanilafood@yahoo.com.ph

Social media shoutout!

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