Before seeing Ghost in a Shell, we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant along Sumulong Highway in Antipolo. We’ve passed it countless times and, each time we did, Sam would mutter that we should try it. We finally did. Perched on the hillside, the view of Metro Manila from Nobu’an Japanese Cuisine is magnificent.
We were more than a little excited. There are no good Japanese restaurants in the suburb, the nearest one, Tamagoya! Noodle House, is a half-hour drive and not even satisfactory despite the friendly prices. If Nobu’an’s food was good, we won’t have to drive all the way down to the city every time we craved Japanese food.
Sadly, that view was the only nice thing about Nobu’an. As beautiful as the panoramic scenery of flickering city lights might be, it could not compensate for the so-so quality of the food.
Alex and I both ordered tonkotsu ramen. With a price tag of PHP310.00, I was expecting good ramen. I was excited when my tonkotsu ramen was laid on the table. A good-sized bowl, generous amount of pork, the egg appeared to be cooked right and that milky broth looked appetizing. But… The pork was bland and not so tender, and the egg had an aftertaste. The broth, despite the milky appearance, was thin, bland and with no flavor nor texture whatsoever of broth made by hours and hours of boiling pork bones.
The broth of Speedy’s shoyu ramen tasted like it came straight from a packet of instant noodles. The color might look good but the flavor was so disappointing that Speedy was already complaining after his first spoonful of the soup. I had a taste just to be sure that I would be able to describe it correctly. Alex tasted it as well and declared that, among all the items we ordered that night, the shoyu ramen was the worst of the lot.
And just what else did we order?
Sam ordered salmon sashimi. She wanted tuna sashimi as well but it was unavailable. You know the mouth feel of raw fish that had been frozen rock solid, thawed then sliced? That was how the salmon sashimi tasted. It might be good enough for the not-so-discerning but we can tell good sashimi from the mediocre.
The sauce of Sam’s tendon tasted like a mixture of soy sauce and water thickened with starch. Sam was not happy at all. She eats seafood so rarely and Nobu’an’s tendon was so disappointing.
The only passable dish was the takoyaki which literally translates to “octopus-grilled/fried” although variants abound. Sam and Alex decided on cheese-stuffed takoyaki which was served smothered with sauce and topped with generous shavings of bonito. The cheese takoyaki would have been good were it not for the sauce which tasted exactly like the sauce in Sam’s bowl of tendon.
The thing is, in the suburb where dining out is generally cheaper, the prices at Nobu’an were not inexpensive at all. Our bill was over PHP1,400.00 and we would have spent just a hundred or two more than that had we dined at a really good (but far) Japanese restaurant like Ippudo where the bowls of ramen are larger and the quality of the food is ten times better.
I don’t know what Nobu’an was before it was declared a Japanese restaurant. The interior, including the furniture, was screaming cupcakes. It felt like it was originally a dessert place that missed the mark so it was converted into a Japanese restaurant and the owners never bothered redecorating.
The past few weeks of dining out have been replete with too many misses. The night before we dined at Nobu’an, we had chicken at the Robinson’s Antipolo branch of BonChon before the last full show of Beauty and the Beast. The fillets were so thin, about a quarter of an inch, that the meat was already dry from frying. But BonChon was the least crowded and we didn’t have a lot of time wasting on queues because we had a movie to catch. Besides, our previous BonChon experience was really good.
Sigh. I can only hope that out next dining out experience will be a hit rather than another miss. Otherwise, we might as well eat at home before catching the next last full show.