It is a fairly common misconception that food has to be expensive to be good. However, I’ve been able to prove that concept wrong time and again. Back in college, there was a shop called Marrakesh Express along Pedro Gil that served real Middle Eastern food (as opposed to the rather disturbing shawarma my peers were so fond of scarfing down) and the best blueberry yogurt smoothies for less than P 100.00 and you could always count on Sala Thai along Nakpil St. for reasonably-priced and great-tasting Thai cuisine.
Later on, I would encounter Bali Blue for their incomparable nasi goreng with two sticks of peanutty sate ayam, Yoshinoya for humongous bowls of gyudon, and Flaming Hot for the rib-sticking P 69.00 meal.
These days, when the chips are down, payday seems ages away , and I’m craving for Japanese food, P 150.00 gets me a hefty Japanese street-stall style lunch over at Yoshi’s Japanese Deli.
Yoshi’s offers a number of Japanese dishes for less than P 100.00 each and satisfies the heartiest of eaters with Sumo Bento sets for just a little over P 200.
As far as cheap eats go, it’s quite good. The takoyaki shown at the top of this post looks like it spent more time in the aebelskiver-style griddle than most octopus dumplings currently available on the market. But these burnished outsides are deliciously crunchy and the insides are like chawan mushi – custard-textured, savory, and full of oniony flavor; the smoothness is made more interesting by the chewy bits of octopus. Throw in the tang of the classic sauce, some Kewpie-brand mayonnaise, and a generous sprinkle of nori, and your tastebuds are in for a treat.
But, since you can’t lunch on takoyaki alone, there’s always a heaping bowl of shoyu beef yakisoba to go with the octopus dumplings. The beef is shockingly salty, but the saltiness is thrown off by the bland noodles. Not one of my favorite noodle bowls, alas, but it’s most satisfying.
Yoshi’s is also one of those rare places that serves – ta-dah! – ginger ale. One sip of this and, yes, I am certainly a happy camper. 😉