Pieces Of A Wunderkind's Mind

Snippets of Life, Love, Food, Travels, Discoveries, and Whatnot


on September 3, 2010

I laughed a little too loudly as I read the following lines from a review, “It seemed seedy enough for a faction of the Yakuza to hold a party there…”. Its location must have been really discreet to be given a comment like that. I’ve always heard [err, read] mostly raves and only good things about Bento-Ya so I was determined to search for it and give their fare a try myself. Besides, it’ll just be a few minutes from my place and directions on how to get there were pretty simple.

Tatsunoko Restaurant, more familiar to many as Bento-Ya, is a dingy joint along El Grande Avenue in BF Homes Parañaque that serves nothing but authentic Japanese food. It was actually a derelict house unwittingly turned into a restaurant one can find very near the Lopez gate. To the uninformed, he may either guilelessly drive past it or intentionally pass up on a great chance of enjoying a hearty meal just because of the the restaurant’s appearance from the outside. But the fact that Bento-Ya is inside BF Homes, one should know better.

The minute Francis opened the door for me, a Filipino waitress cheerfully greeted us in Japanese. We were then led to a dimly-lit table across that of noisy Japanese men who, I think, were celebrating over cold soba and sake. The most noticeable thing was that majority of the clients are Japanese — a good sign, indicating the authenticity of the food on offer. The waitress handed us the menu, so unpretentious and simple [that there were even a lot of typographical errors], and told us she’d just come back once we are ready to order. After a few minutes of choosing, we settled for the following:

We got an order of salmon sashimi [P170] and we were not disappointed at all.  It reminded me so much of the ones in Yakimix… remarkable, sweet salmon slivers. It’s super fresh! Plus, a serving equals a plateful of slices. Also, freshly-grated wasabi was used and not those from a tube.

We initially wanted some ramen but they don’t serve any so Francis and I agreed on getting sukiyaki [P190] instead. We were surprised when we were given a huge hot pot several minuted later. Again, portions were generous; they definitely did not scrimp on fresh ingredients. The leeks, Napa cabbage, celery, and bamboo shoots were crunchy and not overcooked. There was an abundance of shitake mushrooms, tofu chunks, and sweet onions. The thinly sliced beef were very tender. The stock had the right amount of sweetness. I loved the fact that they use shirataki noodles [translucent noodles made from devil’s tongue, a member of the yam family] and not just any noodles for the sukiyaki. It was so delicious yet surprisingly cheap. We weren’t able to finish it, though. It was too much for 2.

We had a platter of gyoza for P90. Each piece was overstuffed with chives and minced pork. We loved its clean taste. The wrapper was nicely fried and the filling was juicy and [again,] fresh. We had fun making our own dipping sauce of sesame oil and rice vinegar.

A serving of ebi tempura [180] came next. It came with a couple of vegetable tempura. The batter was perfect and the tiger prawns were sweet and succulent. No toughness there at all. The grated daikon in the tempura sauce was not overpowering like in most sauces. As a tempura fan, I enjoyed it and it definitely passed my standards.

We ordered a cup of cha han [P90] for each of us. We were only able to finish a cup, though. We didn’t realize that one serving was packed and can suffice for two already until the fried rice reached our table. The cha han was just ok. There was nothing extraordinary about it. It tasted exactly like the cha han in Tempura and/or Teriyaki Boy.

The spread. [Check out how big the hot pot was.] Click to enlarge

I was floored with the cut-rate prices given the high quality ingredients used for the totally authentic, not to mention, scrumptious Japanese fare. As I’ve mentioned, portions here are larger than the more famous Japanese joints. So when you happen to be driving ’round South, you may want to stop over at Bento-Ya for that noteworthy Japanese meal you’ll be talking about and imagining for days.

Bento-Ya / Tatsunoko Restaurant
452 El Grande Avenue, BF Homes Paranaque
Telephone: 825-0551
*They cater and deliver.



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