It was a Friday night and we were all raring to leave the office to embark on what was promising to be an interesting evening. The mission? Binge on authentic takoyaki!
Off we went to meet some friends in Hana, a small Japanese restaurant nestled in Makati’s Little Tokyo. Homey, comfortable and casual, stepping inside Hana is like being transported to an authentic izakaya, a place where you can eat and have a few drinks. Baseball pennants and photos adorn the walls while a live Japanese baseball game airs on the flatscreen TVs. We slipped our shoes off at the quiet little alcove where we were seated and ordered takoyaki.
At Hana, the takoyaki is cooked on a per order basis. They have a stand set-up outside the store entrance, where a chef from Osaka whips up each order. It is said that the best takoyaki hail from Osaka so this, plus the fact that all the ingredients used were imported from Japan raised our expectations even more.
Were those high expectations met? Yes plus more! Served fresh off the grill, the takoyaki were crisp on the outside and sprinkled with takoyaki sauce, some flavorings and what I assume is mayonnaise. The insides were soft and gooey, packed with bits of octopus, adding a chewy bite to the takoyaki—definitely my favorite part of the whole thing. It’s easy to say that Hana’s is the best takoyaki I have ever tried in Manila. Best of all, it’s affordable at 6 pieces for 100 PhP.
Another thing that caught our attention was the kakigori, a Japanese shaved ice dessert. I love green tea-based desserts so I had the Uji Kintoki (80 PhP). It had fine shaved ice with a green tea syrup topped with condensed milk and a generous dollop of adzuki bean paste. It was sooooo good. I imagine this would be the perfect dessert on a hot summer day: light, flavorful and refreshing.
Hana has a lot of other dishes to offer: they have Japanese-style pasta, the usual donburi, salads and a whole lot of other dishes but because I only had takoyaki on my brain that evening, I passed up on having something else. We did get to try the yummy Smoked Salmon salad though, thin slivers of smoked salmon served on fresh veggies and sprinkled with capers and lemon.
There’s really a lot of delightful dishes to try at Hana and it’s a relaxing enough place to unwind after work. But really, for me, give me some of their fantastic takoyaki and a bottle of cold, cold beer and I’ll be a happy little cow.
Hana is located in Little Tokyo, Makati. It’s in the inner courtyard; just enter through one of the Torii arches along Pasong Tamo or the one across the street from the Makati Cinema Square parking lot entrance.
Hana is open from 10am to 11pm, but the takoyaki starts selling at 5pm.