Soru Izakaya Serves Creative New Nippon Cuisine

After discovering the most elegant dimsum presentation in Manila just a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to find a place that serves Japanese food disguised as works of art. Welcome to SORU IZAKAYA in Maginahawa St., Quezon City (Metro Manila, Philippines)

I dropped by for lunch with a couple of foodie friends and we were immediately served with elegantly presented ABURI sushi bites. The SHAKE BELLY ABURI consists of torched salmon belly slices pressed on Japanese rice (nigiri style) and enhanced with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, truffle mayo and ikura.

The salmon belly is one of the choicest cuts of fish so I can see why a lot of people have been saying that some items on the menu are pricey. For example, this one goes for Php220.00 for a serving of 2 pieces. However, with salmon belly and truffle oil prices soaring, I can see why the prices can go steep.

Expect to make a dent in your wallet when you come here but there are options in the menu which can make your meal filling but still reasonably priced. For example, the maki options come in 8-piece servings and are good enough to share.

Shake Belly Aburi Php220.00 for 2 pieces
Kushiyaki Sampler (12 skewers for Php650.00)

Speaking of sharing, our group went with the KUSHIYAKI SAMPLER. The term “yakitori” is more familiar to Filipinos but that actually refers only to grilled CHICKEN skewers. The correct term for Japanese charcoal-grilled items is kushiyaki. In Japan, these are often served “shio” style or flavored only with salt. Another option is to have it glazed in a sweet and savory soy-based tare sauce.

In Soru Izakaya,  they serve their kushiyaki with tare sauce, just the way I like it. Needless to say, I really enjoyed the skewered items. Perfect beer match!

We also tried the SHAKE NORI ABURI, which you can see at the bottom of the photo below. This one didn’t look like traditional nigiri sushi. It’s a round ball of rice, resting on a crispy nori chip (roasted seaweed). The salmon goes on top and the whole thing is drizzled with a sweet, almost caramelized sauce.

So far, most of the dishes that we tried had a sweet sauce on it. I like this a lot, because I have an inclination towards sweet and savory blends. However, I can see how some people might be slightly overwhelmed.

Shake Nori Aburi Php220 (Bottom)

When coming to SORU IZAKAYA, it is best to know that you’re not going into a traditional Japanese restaurant. I am quite a purist when it comes to most of my favorite cuisines and I am usually the first person to complain about fusion and over-tweaking. However, I find that the offerings at Soru have just the right amount of modification, while still sticking to most of the hard-set standards of Japanese food.

Speaking of modifications, one of their best efforts at fusion would have to be the AKAI PAELLA MAKI. Instead of Japanese rice, they used a red-tinged paella rice rolled with grilled chicken, asparagus, tamago and arabiki. They kept it Japanese by mixing teriyaki sauce with Spanish aioli.

This one was served in a platter decorated with white and blue mayo that looks like clouds against a blue sky. I enjoyed dipping my maki pieces in the decorative sauce (it’s edible!) just because I like it more sinful. I make a mean paella and I am happy to report that this maki does have the classic Spanish notes without straying too far away from the maki experience. Superb!

Akai Paella Maki Php380

After trying some of the innovative creations, we also stripped it down to the absolute basics. We had a serving of SHAKE SASHIMI or Norwegian Salmon. The salmon slices were absolutely beautiful. see for yourself below:

Salmon Sashimi Php420.00

The sashimi was great but the Php420.00 price tag makes you feel like you’re dining in Makati haha. It’s steep but there are more affordable sashimi options. The MAGURO or lean tuna, goes for Php280.00 a pop. Again, a lot of this likely depends largely on the prevailing market prices for the ingredients.

Another Japanese staple is the TEMPURA. In Soru Izakaya, they stepped it up by adding nori flakes to the batter. I liked the small tweak. The nori flakes added a slight depth in flavor without messing up an already popular dish.

Nori Tempura (3 pcs Php 240) (5pcs, Php360) (8 pcs, Php520)

Back to the specialties, we went even more radical by having the paella negra maki. Officially called the KURO PAELLA MAKI, this one is made up of squid ink black rice wrapped around marinated salmon, asparagus, kani, shrimp and squid

The whole thing is drizzled with aioli sauce for that garlicky kick. While I enjoyed this dish, I was glad I was sharing with a large group. I found the flavor a bit overpowering and a tad bit salty. Nevertheless, I think this is meant to be paired with a pint of Sapporo on the side. That would create the perfect balance. You also need to wash off the black ink off your teeth anyway…what better way to do that than with some beer?

Check out that lovely dragon design on the platter:

Paella Negra Maki Php480

Our chef kept appealing to our “Game of Thrones” obsession by presenting us with several platters decorated with dragons. Here’s another one that came with our serving of OH UMI MAKI. 

This one featured shrimp tempura and salmon cubes with spicy soru sauce and finished off with truffle mayo. Again, who says no to truffles? Not me.

Oh Umi Maki Php390

Since we’ve already had a few dishes drizzled in truffle mayo, why shouldn’t we take it a notch higher? We went even more decadent by feasting on some SAIKORO WAGYU CUBES served teppanyaki style. This dish is pretty straightforward, exactly what you would expect from a dish of wagyu cubes. It’s a welcome addition to the meal on top of the more elaborately prepared rolls.

Saaikoro Steak teppan Php420

When it was time for dessert, everyone was drooling over the MATCHA CHEESECAKE. Luckily, it was a hefty serving and everyone was able to share. I’m a bigger fan of the TIRAMISU mostly because I love that dessert over any cheesecake in general. The Soru version didn’t disappoint.

Matcha Cheesecake Php240.00
Tiramisu Php220.00

What’s a visit to an izakaya without some alcohol? I sampled the WASABI KAMIKAZEE  cocktail and was fairly impressed. It’s an acquired taste though. I’m not sure everyone will appreciate a hint of wasabi in their drink. One thing’s for certain, it was a potent drink. That’s really the first thing that I look for in a cocktail: IT MUST HAVE A KICK. Mission accomplished!

Wasabi Kamikazee cocktail Php260.00

It was a stimulating meal both for the eyes and for the palate. I’m looking forward to coming back to try out the donburi so that I can compare it with other places. I am also interested in the other maki options.

Again, this isn’t the traditional Japanese place where you’ll find subtle flavors which rely almost singularly on the freshness and supremacy of the raw ingredients. There’s a lot more pizzazz and a lot of deviations from classic recipes here. It’s all up to you how much you’re willing to bend.

Star rating: 4.5/5

Location: Ground Floor, 140 Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City

Check out the full menu and book a table on Zomato!
Soru Izakaya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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