Ichiba : Japanese Market
Bansai! The first Japanese seafood market concept in the country, Ichiba Market, is already open and it has, for just a short period of time, already generated a lot of buzz in the social media. We so love Japan!!! This is part of Newport Mall’s restaurants located at the 2nd floor of Resorts World Manila. We went there a day after its official opening 2 weeks ago. We were lucky it wasn’t as crowded as we expected it to be. There were only few people but the place looked busy. Everyone seemed to be occupied; local chefs preparing for the orders, people taking photos, while some are busy asking about the menu, kids playing at the fishing area, seemingly confused crews roaming around to accommodate every excited customers (myself included) checkin on every stations there is.
The place have a total of 10 food stalls/stations serving different dishes like Ramen,Yakiyori,Robatayaki, Tempura, Sushi/Sashimi, Donburi and many others. There are wait staff near each stall who will assist you with your orders, just make sure to always bring your table numbers when roaming around. Or you can just stay on your table, ask for the menu list and let the waiter takes your orders. This is easier and more convenient because a lot of the items on the menu are not listed on the stalls. Although my kids find stall hopping a lot more exciting and they call it, more Japanese-y. The joy and happiness of being able to personally witness how fresh shrimps turn into a plate of crispy tempura is such an awesome Japanese experience, lols. I even heard them say, Sugoi!
At the entrance, aside from the mini store, there are barrels with different props you can use for photo opts, they have like sea creature shaped masks and hats and dialogue bubble signs written both in Kanji and Romanji (English characters). My 7 yr old son was able to memorised his now favorite Japanese phrase from the props that reads, 私がもっと欲しい “Watashi ga motto hoshi” (I want more). And he was proud to tell everyone from school he got it from Ichiba Market. Hehe. So take advantage of these props, beside being able to learn few Japanese phrases, these will surely make your photos Instagram worthy. It’s Cute!
At the right side of the entrance is where the fresh market display is, they have local and Japanese seafoods like Lobsters, Crabs. And it has a fishing area where kids can enjoy catching live seafoods for 30 minutes per turn and have it cooked afterwards. Fishing is free but not the catch! There’s cooking charges too. Remember Dampa in Parañaque and Daang Hari? Yeah, it works the same way.
Ichiba could be a perfect place for foodies but if you’re a big fan of Ramen like myself, ( Trivia: Chuba Soba, the politically correct term for Ramen) this isn’t for you. They have a very limited variety to choose from. And when I say limited, It means you can only choose from 5 variety: Ebi Paitan Shio, Tonkatsu Miso Chashu Ramen, Tempura Soba, Tempura Udon or Grilled Chicken ( I’m not sure if this is similar to chicken noodle soup). To those who are confused between the 3, Ramen is the regular wheat based noodles, Udon is a thick, wheat based noodle while Soba is buckwheat noodles. All of them are basically noodles! For TantanMen lovers, I share the same grief with you. It is not available on the menu.
Ichiba’s a la carte menu is actually overwhelming, from Sashimi to Robatayaki to almost everything Japanese (There’s Satay, Singaporean Chili Crab and Szechuan Style Crab, too), it makes it hard for everyone to figure out quickly what you want. So I advise not to go there when you’re ravenously hungry, because you might end up ordering everything.
I personally love their Yakitori (really how can you go wrong with tasty grilled goodness). And among my favourites are Tanuki (grilled shiitake with minced chicken), Negima (welsh onion and chicken thigh), and Baby Octopus. Do not settle for the Yakitory platter unless you’re on a strict chicken-only-bbq diet. My husband and I didn’t enjoy the ramen, and neither of the kids liked it the way they enjoy HANAMARUKEN or SANTOUKA or IPPUDO’s.
The confused crews and staff who several times served us the wrong orders were forgivable because perhaps the store is just “newly opened” but some of the menus I couldn’t tolerate. Take for instance their chahan and yakisoba. Their names sound like Japanese to me but sadly, it didn’t taste like it’s a legit Nihon no Ryori or even close to it. Their yakisoba is so bland it can be mistaken as the usual Pancit Canton pretending to be Japanese.
The place doesn’t serve shabby-shabu, Okonomiyaki or at least Sukiyaki. Don’t even ask for it. And they only have soft-served ice cream for dessert. And that completely broke my heart. So we instead ordered Uni sushi, salmon skin roll, grilled prawn and deep fried crab with Taosi to compensate what we’ve been craving for. They were all okay. What was not okay was when my phone battery died even before our orders were served.
If you plan to visit Ichiba, plan ahead of time with what you wanna try. Do not get too excited, Do not be shy to roam around the “market”, take time to appreciate the local chefs preparing your Japanese dish, if you’re lucky you’ll spot Chef Nobuyoshi Onishi in action shucking oysters or slicing your sashimi. Indulge. Make suggestions too, they are very accommodating with comments from guests.
In Japan, they usually say it, どうぞ食べてください。(Douzo, tabete kudasai). So I guess the best part to enjoy the experience is to just enjoy your meal.
A last piece of advice, if waiters come to ask if you want either hot or cold tea, it’s not for free.
Ganbatte minna san!
| 2/F Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila, Newport City, Pasay | +63 917 732-2176