Japonesa: The Cuisine and Ambiance at This Poblacion, Makati Restaurant

Taking you to that time when my friends and I had lunch at the Japanese-Peruvian restaurant.

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Exterior signage of Japonesa. Photo by Denise J. Mallabo

I don’t usually go to Poblacion. I have probably only visited a few times since it became a well-liked Makati hangout for a night out with friends. It has altered over time, according to a number of my peers who frequent the area. Some businesses were forced to shut down due to the problems caused by the pandemic, but others expanded and reinvented themselves to survive.

Despite the global occurrence that has hurt sectors like the food and restaurant industry, some of Poblacion’s streets are thriving. Restaurants and bars operated by Notorious Concepts can be found on Don Pedro Street in Poblacion. A part of Jeff Oh’s Brooklyn Industries Group, the intricate parent company of the area record label Careless Music, this food and beverage company is run by CEO James Thomas. They run West32, a bar and restaurant with Korean-American influences, as well as Alamat, a restaurant recognized for its craft beer and inventive Filipino cuisine. Additionally, the company owns HQ, a bar and lounge on Kalayaan street.

I decided to take some of my friends to their restaurant, Japonesa (Japanese woman), which is located on Don Pedro and Jacobo Streets. It’s barely been a month since they started serving meals and drinks, and they’re open daily from 11 a.m. till the early hours of the morning. They used to open at 5 p.m. till 1 a.m. (Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday), 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. (Friday to Saturday) before that adjustment. The restaurant is spacious, with enough tables and chairs for both small and large groups. The color choice of the restaurant’s interior is eye-catching and reminds me of old Aztec hues. I arrived early and was still able to take photos of some areas of the restaurant but it eventually got busy come lunch time.

My friends arrived just in time for lunch. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve tried Peruvian cuisine before, but I am however familiar with Japanese food since it is one of my favorite fare. So here are some of the restaurant’s must-tries:

The Tapas

Sake Tiradito (P595). As soon as I saw this plate, a smile appeared on my face. Since I love fresh salmon, this was a culinary delight for me. You’d be craving more because of the way the Norwegian salmon melts in your tongue. Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

Bomba Camarones (P575). It’s like eating a sweet-spicy crispy shrimp candy. So good!
Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

Entero Shimeji (P395). A cluster of shimeji mushrooms on top of a sweet squash purée. This was really appetizing. I almost asked for a piece of bread so I can use it to scrape the remaining purée.
Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

The Japonesa Signaturas

La Japonesa (P650). My personal fave of the bunch. I couldn’t get enough of it, and so did my friends, so we ordered more. Crispy rice is the perfect bite. There was no hard crispy rice to get stuck in your teeth. Everything is perfectly fried. It went well with the tuna tartar that was on top. So tasty!
Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

Californication (P540). It’s your usual California maki but make it extra! The smooth, creamy texture of the avocado makes it refreshing. Everything tastes good in your mouth. The crab claw meat and black caviar on top are like eating the sea. This was wonderful! Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

The Meinkosus (Main Course)

Pollo Mostaza (P575). Everything is juicy. The chicken thighs are well cooked and juicy. It went great with the creamy dijon sauce, mustasa leaves, and mushrooms. I’d love to eat this with rice next time.
Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

Lengua Katsu (P975). A unique and clever method of preparing beef tongue. It won’t put anyone off who haven’t had lengua before because of how it was cooked; katsu style. It’s quite tender, and I love how it’s resting atop mashed potatoes. Definitely worth a try!
Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

Pescado y Gambas al Ajillo (P975). One of the group’s favorites. This was ordered again. The freshness of the fish and shrimp is obvious. That shrimp literally bursts in your mouth. The fillet has a crispy exterior and a juicy interior. It’s light, with tastes from capers and garlic that surround the seafood.
Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.


Uni (P250). An acquired taste and I’m glad I love uni! This was so fresh that I didn’t want to even squeeze a lemon on it to retain its sweetness. Photo by Denise J. Mallabo.

Signature Cocktails / Drinks

In comparison to other restaurants, Japonesa’s food is pricier, but the restaurant’s high standards for food and atmosphere make up for this. My friends and I had a fantastic time at Japonesa and we stayed there for hours just catching up. If you’re at the Poblacion area and looking for a place to dine with delicious food and good ambiance, drop by Japonesa.

Follow them on Facebook and Instagram. Also follow Notorious Concepts for updates on their establishments.


5658 Jacobo St. corner Don Pedro St. Poblacion

11am – 1am, Monday – Thursday & Sunday

11am – 3am, Friday & Saturday

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