Recently, Ogawa Traditional Japanese Restaurant opened at The Fort Strip (There’s an actual sign!) to the delight of many diners around the metro. Its namesake, Chef Kiyoshi Ogawa has a stellar resume which includes being the head chef of Senju at EDSA Shangrila hotel and Marufuku hidden in Ortigas Center, among other international establishments. It was about time the renowned chef’s name appeared at the forefront.
My parents and I arrived for lunch on a Sunday which I predicted to be crowded. We did get lucky though and got seats at the main bar which is separate from the sushi bar. Patrons at the sushi bar get to see Chef Ogawa in action as sushi and sashimi is his specialty.
We ordered many things as usual since I’m not the only matakaw person in this family and wanted to try many things on the menu. The menu is definitely loaded with dishes that are uncommon to other Japanese restaurants in Manila. For example, kamameshi (釜飯/kettle rice) is not something I see often here and boom the kamameshi station was right in front of me. That robatayaki (炉端焼き/fireside cooking) station was also visible from where we were seated so it was nice to see them grill stuff up front.
We ordered a bunch of random items and started with kaki isobe-age (deep fried Hiroshima oysters with seaweed). The oysters were huge (Yuge? Hey Trumpers) and sweet! The batter was green as you’d expect from the seaweed. However, I didn’t expect the batter to not be crispy/crunchy. It was soggy at best maybe cause it stayed out too long after frying before it got to our table? Would just like to peel the batter away for the oysters inside.
We added orders of okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) and hamachi kabuto shioyaki (grilled hamachi head with salt). The okonomiyaki had way too much flour, cabbage, and not much else. Boo. The hamachi head (and the collar too!) was simple and delicious. We cleaned it out as much as we could and I will admit that a fork and knife are always necessary to clean out such a big fish head! There always more meat to pick on the inside of the fish head. Mom thought the fish wasn’t super fresh though (even if it was cooked). I’m not very good at telling freshness if the fish is already cooked but she can sense it a mile away. Classic Hong Konger.
Finally, we also ordered some sushi because it’s Ogawa, c’mon! Dad got the kaisen chirashi sushi zen bento and I got the gokyujo sushi hamacho (assorted special premium sushi). Dad did not enjoy his bento at all but I enjoyed my sushi platter. All the fish was goooooood although the salmon could’ve been better. Can’t have it all! I will have to say that there is a larger (than I expected!) price difference between the bento and the sushi platter and at this point it’s basically you get what you pay for. In premium of course.
In my honest (and probably unpopular) opinion, I don’t think what we got was worth what we paid for except for maybe the sushi platter. From what I know of Chef Ogawa when he worked at Senju is that he really specializes in sashimi/sushi/rolls. I guess different chefs and all so not as consistent. Sad day. Better luck next time, perhaps.
Ogawa Traditional Japanese Restaurant
2/F Fort Entertainment Center
5th Ave cor. 28th St, Bonifacio Global City
Taguig, Metro Manila
+632 246 9069 x858
Monday to Sunday 1100H – 1500H; 1730H – 2230H