Japanese food concepts are popping up all over the metro—restaurants with specialty offerings like ramen, sushi, tonkatsu, and matcha desserts.
The Food Revolution Group—which has brought in Japanese concept restaurants already like hotpot resto Tsukuda Nojo, Katsusora, and Hokkaido Raman Santouka—is breaking away from this approach through its newest brand called Epilogue.
Epilogue, a Japanese-European fine bistro luxe mall S Maison in Conrad Manila, highlights the Japanese philosophy of kodawari.
Kodawari centers on dedication to craft and mastery; and according to Food Revolution Group president Alyanna Uy, this is what people can expect from Epilogue.
“Kodawari is a Japanese principle of being dedicated to excel and master in your chosen path. The Japanese take learning into a whole new level, and they keep challenging themselves to be the best in what they do–that is the root of our brand concept,” Uy said in an interview with InterAksyon during the restaurant’s formal opening last month.
“Each chef here in Epilogue practice kodawari, and take pride in pursuing excellence in each of their chosen culinary specialties. That’s why we have multiple chefs to focus on one thing,” she added.
Five Japanese chefs are working inside Epilogue’s kitchen, each of whom is a master of his own craft and with more than 10 years of professional experience.
Uy shared, “Every one of them has traveled to various parts of the world training and learning in renowned restaurant industries.”
One of them is head baker Tomohide Ono who conceptualized Epilogue’s bread and pastries. He worked as a pastry chef for 20 years in different bakeries located in Japan, Indonesia, and Hong Kong.
Epilogue’s Italian dishes, particularly the gnocchi, risotto, and pasta are prepared by Chef Hayato Mitsuhashi who is known to have trained for 14 years in various Italian restaurants in Japan, Indonesia, and Italy.
Steak Master Chef Minoru Sorimachi on the other hand carefully prepares the restaurant’s steaks as well as the sides that go with it. Sorimachi gained the title for having over 20 years of experience working in teppanyaki steakhouses in Japan.
One cannot also miss out on Epilogue’s French dishes put together by Chef Hiroyuki Meno, who is known to have gained experience in various Michelin-starred restaurants including Domaine Les Haut Roches in Loire, France; Le Pont de Ciel in Osaka, Japan; and L’ Auberge De L’ill in Tokyo, Japan. Moreover, he also served as the executive chef of Brasserie Paul Bocuse and one-star Maison Paul Bocuse in Tokyo.
Making sure that guests complete their gastronomic journey on a sweet note, Epilogue is offering cakes by award-winning Chef Kenji Ishihara who has 30 years of pastry experience in France, Japan, and Indonesia.
Complementing the global travel cuisine offered in the menu is the modern and cozy interior designed by Japanese architect Kazumasa Wakabayshi. Wakabayshi designed a number of restaurants in Japan including that of the restaurant where one of the fight scenes of the Hollywood movie Kill Bill was shot.
Food Revolution marketing manager Erika Lim shared, “We wanted to do a full experience for Epilogue. It’s not just the well prepared dishes that are well thought out by our chefs; it’s also the ambiance.”
With carefully prepared food matched with good ambiance, Lim said that the restaurant is perfect for guests celebrating special occasions like anniversary dates.
Part of the restaurant’s launch was a food tasting event composed of dishes infused with local flavors and ingredients including moringa and dalandan.
The tasting started with a sampler plate of watermelon gazpacho with poached prawn; anchovy escabeche flavored with kalamansi and curry cauliflower mousse; and focaccia bread topped with prosciutto, mozarella di bufala, and arugula.
The gazpacho was refreshing, while the escabeche teased the tastebuds with the sharp citrusess of the calamansi and the heat from the curry.
This was then followed by a plate of consommé royal, catfish croquette, smoked duck, and salad.
The consommé royal composed of bits of braised gyu-tan, chayote egg pudding, foie gras ravioli, mushroom foam, and gobo chips was warm, and has a rich taste. All these elements have different textures that go well together, making it a gratifying dish to eat.
The catfish croquette in pernod-sauce, and watercress and moringa coulis was simple and delicate; while the smoked duck with red wine and dalandan béarnaise sauce was satisfying to the taste and not too overwhelming. The salad composed of greens with passionfruit-vanilla dressing meanwhile, provided a good balance to the savory elements of the dish.
Next was nougat ice with Pain d’Epice (spiced crusts), served with raspberry coulis, and passionfruit sorbet with exotic fruits. The medley of sorbet and mix of exotic fruits in particular, was a fresh conclusion to the experience.
These dishes were actually not part of Epilogue’s menu but were especially prepared for the its opening. However, the restaurant encourages their guests to try other dishes from their menu named after the parts of a book including the introduction, chapter and verse, and afterword.
According to Lim, Chef Ono’s wine bread is a must-try. Instead of water, Ono uses wine in the dough so that the bread will have a nice wine aroma. Moreover, the bread has cheese inside.
Lim also included Chef Hayato’s gnocchi as well as the king’s cut prepared by Chef Sorimachi on the list.
For the cocktails, Lim recommends their matcha mojito, which is unique to Epilogue.
• Epilogue is located at G/F of S Maison, Conrad Manila, Pasay City. For more information, visit www.epilogue.ph.