When I want to learn about someone I always ask them about their food choice. It’s music to my ears when I have an idea about the kind of food that they consume and understand their eating behaviours because it creates a ton of opportunities for me to ask them more questions and never let the momentum die down. Really, it will be an understatement if you say that I love food because I really do.
Last August 2019, I met Leo, a Filipino-Canadian based in Vancouver, who was in the Philippines for a quick vacation with his family. Through him, I had a delightful time learning about Vancouver, how the city is known for fresh seafood and how he’s a huge fan of Japanese food.
After my work schedule, I drove from Meycauayan City, Bulacan to Quezon City to fetch him. On my way to meet him, I thought of bringing him to Manila (around Malate) but I didn’t know any good and authentic Japanese restaurants around. So I thought, why not Yu-Fu-In in Angeles City, Pampanga since that’s been my go-to Japanese restaurant ever since 2016? Boy, it did not disappoint!
My craving for yakiniku was left unaddressed when we got to Yu-Fu-In. Their yakiniku was only available until 10pm and we got there about 15 minutes past 10pm. They have this yakiniku set + hot pot (good for 2-3 persons) which does not cost more than 1300 Pesos ($25). We were left without a choice but to order something from their regular menu.
Since he mentioned that he like sushi and fresh seafood, I made sure to get my staple fix of Oshushiya San Bento for only 490 Pesos ($9.42). What’s nice about this bento is you get to try nine (9) of their best sushi and it gives you an idea what to order next as a starter. My personal favourite would be the Ika Nigiri Sushi (Squid Hand-formed Sushi) because of how it just melts in your mouth.
It would not be a complete Japanese dining experience without ordering some nice sashimi (thin-sliced raw fish or meat). Salmon Toro (Salmon Belly) was our choice but it was not available at that time. Our attendant suggested Salmon Sashimi for only 295 Pesos ($5.67) and I know that it’s good.
I was quite hesitant ordering this because I’ve had an experience in the past when the sashimi from a different restaurant was awful. Sashimi has a recognisable smell – a stingy, fishy one – and you would only get it if you smell it directly. However, if you sit upright and notice this smell, then that might be an indication that the sashimi isn’t good for consumption anymore. Luckily, that wasn’t the experience we’ve had at Yu-Fu-In!
More than its freshness, the sashimi was flavourful. I like having it with fresh wasabi but without the sauce. As much as possible, I would always avoid having sauce in any food. Japanese food has a distinct flavour which I love – not savoury but extremely mouthful.
I could eat Omurice (Fried rice wrapped in omelette) everyday for my entire life and not feel bad about it. I know other Japanese restaurants have a cheesy version of this which, by the way, is good but I like mine simple, plus this is cheap! I only got mine for 170 Pesos ($3.27) and it’s actually good for 2 persons already.
We didn’t know what kind of tempura (battered and deep-fried) to get so ordered this mixed tempura for only 380 Pesos ($7.31) which could already serve 2-3 persons. Aside from Ebi Tempura (battered shrimp), my favourite would be Ika Tempura (battered squid), and yes, you can already tell by now how much I love squid!
Kushiyaki is Japan’s version of BBQ. However, theirs aren’t limited to specific meat, like pork, but it could be any poultry and non-poultry items. This set has six (6) different kushiyaki and is already good for 2 persons. Each set costs 295 Pesos ($5.67) only and you have the choice whether to smother it in their homemade sauce or just have a dash of salt and pepper (our choice, by the way).
What I love about Japanese food and the Japanese dining experience is how they put premium about sharing food. You are sharing a portion of who you are to the person you’re with and you experience this satisfying connection that only a good food can create. It’s as if sharing your food with someone is a journey of mutual understanding and discovery. Maybe this is what we miss when we get too preoccupied about ‘adulting’ and we miss the chance of experiencing this connection, who knows? When was the last time you created a meaningful relationship with someone over and through food?