Adventures in Legazpi Village: Nikkei and Pepi Cubano

Five exams, three baby thesis chapters, quizzes here and there, and a bazillion homework later, I finally have the time to sit down in front of my laptop and not type anything academically related (but isn’t that what I am doing right now *sigh* I can never get out).

It’s so exciting to write about food again, since what I’ve been doing for the past few weeks was to write about the EU and China’s foreign aid disbursements (not that I don’t love it, because I do in fact LOVE International Studies. Studies, in general, just get too overwhelming sometimes, if ya know what I mean)

Moving on, I posted on my Instagram before that I ate in Nikkei, which I hope you still remember (???) WELL THIS IS IT. THIS IS THE BLOG POST FOR THAT INSTAGRAM POST. Please pardon my writing style for I am still reeling from theoretical perspectives and policy-making processes. I guess this is what I would coin as a writing jetlag because I’m still getting used to the shift from writing in the context of International Relations to writing in the context of food and dining. Phew. 

Oh by the way, with all the acads going on, I have also been busy helping my parents in decorating our new penthouse! SO IT HAS REALLY BEEN A WHIRLWIND OF TASKS.  I can’t wait to try the new restaurants in QC and share my adventures there with you guys! 

SUCH A BUSY BEE I HAVE BEEN! I don’t even have time to have my eyebrows done! #firstworldproblems 

So how did I have the time to eat in Nikkei then, you ask? (but if you didn’t then allow me to tell you haha)

You see, it was supposed to be our retreat on the 2nd of October, but it was cancelled due to the reportedly heavy rain.

Actually, it was pretty sunny that day in Makati  and it didn’t rain. Sayang, I was looking forward to the retreat because I needed some time to deeply reflect, relax, and reconnect. I understand though, because the safety of the students is a must. 

This meant I had all the day to myself.

A day without anything to do? A PERFECT CHANCE TO EAT OUT. 

So I put on my dress and headed out to Nikkei with Reens! 

Nikkei is just next to Wildflour, so it’s pretty easy to spot. It’s a Japanese-Peruvian restaurant, boasting of a quite unconventional East Asia meets South America cuisine, but then again it’s to be expected since Japan is one of the top countries with Peruvian inhabitants. Nevertheless, I’m just so glad we finally have such a restaurant in Manila! 

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Inside Nikkei

It’s a bit cramped, but we got seated immediately. The interiors were minimalist which are quite the trend these days and quite fitting for a Japanese restaurant too!

The Menu was only 2 pages. I LOVE MINIMALIST AND SHORT MENUS. GORDON RAMSAY WOULD BE PROUD.

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The Menu

We’ve heard so much about the Green Ceviche so that’s what we ordered first. It’s a mountain of white fish, octopus, and prawns, with wasabi cream (YES. WASABI.), red onions, red chili, cilantro, canchita, topped with potato strings.

Whoa there. Those were pretty intense flavors. And then mixed together? Who would even dare to do such a thing?

Nikkei did.

It was definitely a surprise to the palate. The flavor is really strong, so I’m not sure if a person can finish this dish alone. I certainly didn’t.

It has this taste that will make you want to keep eating it, but then I got umay after a while and the wasabi can be pretty extreme for some people if eaten repeatedly (coughmecough). Still, it’s a must-try for me. You can’t not try a ceviche in a Peruvian restaurant.

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Green Ceviche (P360.00). I’d give this:

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Next up is the Panko sushi roll!~

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Panko (5pcs for P160.00/10pcs for P320.00). I’d give this:

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The Panko has salmon, avocado, kampyo, truffled cream cheese, shiitake, onion leeks, and their Salad sauce.

I love it! It’s so refreshing and delicious at the same time. The salmon itself is quite good already.

For the mains, I had the Lomo Saltado while Reena ordered the Salmon Belly.

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Lomo Saltado (P420.00). I’d give this: 

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I was so aliw with the poached egg on top of the fries! It’s like a blob of perfection.

When it comes to fries, one would expect that it would come with ketchup, mayo, or some other sauce, BUT NOPE. IT CAME WITH A POACHED EGG! How ingenious is that? It went well with the fries as well, who would expect? As a fries connoisseur, I can say that the fries were really good.

Let us now go to the viand!

The sauce was just the way I like it, the flavors were there, the colors were vibrant, and the taste was brilliant! The taste not new though, it’s something that you can probably taste in another restaurant, but worth trying nonetheless.

As you can see, it is clear-cut that Nikkei’s strong points are its seafood and its amalgamation of flavors, which is why I was confused on what happened with the Salmon Belly.

It was basically a salmon belly tempura. It was really bland that it took time to finish it. The menu says it has truffle but I wasn’t able to taste any of it at all.

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Salmon Belly (P395.00). I’d give this:

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Aww. We were going ‘strong‘ Nikkei 😦

Overall, it was a nice dining experience for me. It’s always great to try something new and be surprised with what it could evoke. I still want to try the other dishes that they have.

The serving was so little though, for someone like me, and knowing that Pepi Cubano was nearby, I JUST COULDN’T HELP BUT GO.

Pepi Cubano is just near Greenbelt and is located at Gallardo St. I have been obsessed with cubanos ever since I watched Chef  (if you haven’t watched this yet please do so because it’s such a feel good movie and there’s food. ‘Nuff said.). With Carl Casper being so passionate about the cubanos, who wouldn’t be inclined to try some?

To make a cubano, you slice a Cuban bread horizontally, butter or brush some olive oil on the crust, and you spread some yellow mustard on the bread. Then you just layer ham, pork, pickles and cheese inside the bread. Then everything is flattened in a sandwich press like a sub.

Meat + Cheese? I DEFINITELY CANNOT SAY NO.

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A mix of pop culture

So far, they only have 8 flavors, and one side-dish (Pollo Ensalada)  and one dessert (Cigarro Cubanos). I chose to go with the Pepi Cubano (roast poark +ham) because I always love the classic ones.

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Pepi Cubano (P250.00). I’d give this: 

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Let me tell you, WHEN I ATE THAT CUBANO, I was just rendered speechless with all the deliciousness going on in my taste buds. WOW. I mean, you would think it’s so simple with just a few ingredients and all, but the taste is SOMETHING ELSE.

They use french butter in their bread and it honestly makes the difference. Also, you’ll know it’s a legit Cuban bread because the texture of the bread used by others is that of a pandesal’s. Yikes.

It’s one thing to see the process of making cubanos in the movie, but to actually enjoy an authentic one is a whole other experience.

The cheese oozes in your mouth, the bread is perfectly pressed and crisp, and the pork, ham, and pickles just blend in harmony.

It’s also worth the price since it’s big enough for two people to share!

I also ordered the Pan De Bistek (beef) to go so I can have my brother try it, and it’s really yummy, but the best cubano for me is still the good ol’ Pepi Cubano (roast pork and ham).

Thank you Susan Dalmacion for the perfection that is Pepi Cubano!

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I wish I had also been eating them since 2006 

I had a splendid time dining my way around Legazpi Village! It was a day well spent!

Love,

Des ❤


Nikkei

Unit GO3, Frabelle Business Center, 111 Rada Street,Legaspi Village, Makati City

Operating Hours: 11:00am – 9:00pm (Mon-Sun)

Budget: About P1500.00 for two people

Contact No.: (+632) 880-0231


Pepi Cubano

Unit 17, Ground Floor, Tropical Palms Condominium, Gallardo Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City

Operating Hours: 8:00am – 12midnight (Mon-Sun)

Budget: About P250.00 per person

Contact No.: +639167590143

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