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Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Quiet Japanese Gem

When Art told me that we had an invitation to have lunch at The New Kamameshi House, I was seized with a twinge of nostalgia: I remember going there as a child, but it was situated in Greenhills. My parents raved about it, but I couldn't really be sure what they raved for, so I couldn't pass up the chance to find out for myself.

We arrived earlier than our host, and the restaurant was still in "prep" mode, but I couldn't resist taking a shot of this vat of rice to be used in their sushi.

We were led to our table, and the word that comes to mind is quaint: it was small, cozy, and definitely induces you to have a conversation with your companions. Some people may see this as a minus, but having recently come from a restaurant that was all about frenzy, I could not help but breathe a sigh of relief that this experience was the polar opposite.

When our hostess arrived, she told us the not-to-be-missed dish: Kamameshi. She then proceeded to order three varieties of the it: Chicken, Seafood and Mixed. Kamameshi is an all-in-one dish: steamed rice in a special sauce, topped with your choice of viand. The menu states that they have to prepare it for at least 20 minutes - it was definitely worth the wait.

The dish comes in a metal container supported by a wooden base, and when you open the lid, the heady aroma as well as the steam signals you of a treat for your taste buds. I enjoyed the Mixed variety the most, as it had all of their ingredients thrown into one container. There was burnt rice at the bottom (tutong) but that was to be expected, given the metal container.

We also had a staple ordered in Japanese restaurants, ebi tempura. Their version tasted clean, none of the heaviness I've experienced from other establishments with a batter that could be...better. They had six pieces in a single order, but when the waiter delivered it to our table, everyone was famished and got their share right away, which explains the shot I have of only two shrimps.

We also had a seafood dish, cooked in teriyaki sauce. While the fish itself was quite soft, the sauce was not too remarkable, and I would pass up on this when we come back. Yes, that's when, not if.

Our hostess insisted on ordering a beef dish, and because she frequented this place, we trusted her taste. This was right on the money: soft, succulent pieces of beef in that dark sauce, complimented by a serving of bean sprouts. You can't have this dish and not be happy - unless you're a vegetarian.

I did want to have a vegetable dish, and this tofu concoction was made memorable because of the sauce that came along with it: bits of garlic in a rich soy base, sprinkled with a few pieces of meat and vegetables. If vegetables tasted this good, nutritionists wouldn't have a hard time telling people to eat their veggies.

We were pleasantly surprised to find such a quaint gem that is located in what appeared to be a neighborhood close to a national highway, which means it may not be that easy to find. But the kamameshi (and other dishes) make it worth the trek, and it is, rightfully, the dish that inspires this restaurant's name.


The New Kamameshi House
5787 Zobel Roxas Street, corner South Super Highway,
Palanan, Makati
(+632) 5256284

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