Dhya has been asking me to head to Glorietta for the longest time because he wanted me to try Ginza Bairin. We finally had the chance to do so one Monday afternoon when it was declared a holiday and my brother didn’t have to go to work. After leaving our store, my parents and I headed to Makati for our late lunch with him and my sister-in-law.
We arrived around 1pm and had to wait for a while since the place was still full of customers. I noticed that Ginza Bairin doesn’t have a large dining area so it might take some time before you get a table, especially if it’s the lunch hour and/or the weekend.
I read on their menu that Ginza Bairin was started by Mr. Nobukatsu Shibuya, who was a trained pharmacist, in 1927. He was the one who came up with the formula for the tonkatsu sauce that’s still being served in the restaurant today.
Each table had these small instruction / suggestion boards for diners to read and/or follow.
To start the meal, we ordered a serving of their Gyoza. I was surprised to see that their gyoza had this thin layer of “crust” which held the five pieces of dumplings together. I’ve never been served gyoza looking like this before so I thought that maybe there was something special to it. Unfortunately, we found this to be so-so. Nothing to be too crazy about.
Dad decided to go with the Seafood Set. His first reaction when it was placed in front of him? The serving size was too small. He would have enjoyed this better if there were more seafood provided. He also commented afterwards that he still preferred Yabu‘s version because the seafood there tastes more fresh.
By the way, like most of the tonkatsu places in Manila, each set comes with endless servings of hot miso soup, shredded cabbage salad, rice, pickled vegetables, seasonal fruits and Japanese barley tea (hot or iced).
Upon my brother’s suggestion and since this was the main reason why we trooped to Makati in the first place, I ordered the Special Katsudon Set. My Mom, brother and Sister-in-Law had the same.
Here’s a close up of the Special Katsudon. I have to admit, this was a real winner! Ginza Bairin’s version consisted of extremely tender hire Katsu (the leaner cut versus Rosu katsu), delicious sauce and of course, that beautiful orange egg yolk! I enjoyed this a lot. ♥
The flavor of the broth closely resembled the one used in the katsudon from Komoro Soba in Megamall, which I absolutely loved while I was growing up. The sad thing about Komoro Soba is that their serving sizes have shrunk and the meat is no longer as tender (I still visit that place once in a while though).
While I was going through the menu, I noticed that Ginza Bairin offered ice cream as one of their desserts. Since my sister-in-law and brother were willing to share, we decided to go with the Trio of Ice Cream. There was supposed to be a scoop each of vanilla, green tea and black sesame flavored ice cream, but we were informed that the vanilla ice cream was still too soft. I was happy that they allowed us to choose what flavor we wanted to replace the vanilla one with and we decided to go with another scoop of the black sesame. (Please excuse the photo above. We’ve already started eating the ice cream before I remembered to snap a photo of it. :P)
I preferred the green tea over the black sesame because I found the flavor to be more intense. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that the black sesame didn’t taste good. My sister-in-law found it to be pretty nice.
Now on to the most important question: Will we go back?
I really wouldn’t mind if we did, but I might have trouble convincing Dad to join us. Their Special Katsudon is, by far, the best that I’ve tried in all the katsu places I’ve been to in Manila. Since I’ve always been a big fan of katsudon, finding a place that would meet my high expectation levels is a big thing. I sincerely hope that Ginza Bairin will be able to maintain the quality of their katsudon.
**Ginza Bairin is located at the Ground Floor of Glorietta 2, Palm Drive, Ayala Center in Makati City. You may visit the official Ginza Bairin Philippines Facebook page by clicking here.