From the group that brought us themed Japanese restaurants like SumoSam, John and Yoko, Mr. Kurosawa, Roboto San and Akira, comes a new player in the dynamic buffet scene of Metro Manila — Banzai. No need to go to Japan to experience an authentic Japanese dining experience as Little Tokyo is here, complete with all of the well-loved dishes that Japan is known for housed in one sprawling area. The best part? It’s cooked FRESH right before your eyes AND IT’S UNLIMITED!
It was a beautiful summer day last Monday when a handful of us bloggers were invited to dine and experience this all authentic Japanese buffet. Entering the restaurant was like being immediately transported to a street in Tokyo: Japanese lanterns and signages, sakura trees in full bloom, and wooden tables and chairs which bespoke of their signature minimalist style. The interiors are already a feast for the eyes!
As for the food, well, they have quite a selection of authentic Japanese fare. To give you an idea, here’s a copy of the map that we have been handed with before we start with our Japanese feast:
I went to the Teppanyaki Station first since this is the nearest to our seating area. I was greeted by a showcase of ingredients imported from Japan, to ensure that the dishes they served remain as authentic as you could get.
I was drawn to the Seafood area first because I saw this chilled display of fresh sea bounty. There are no serving trays in this area, mind you. All you’ll see are menus and raw ingredients on display. You just have to tell the chef on station what you like so he can cook it for you…
Moving on, I found their Sushi and Sashimi Station. The selection of sushi that they serve varies within the day so you get to sample something different if in case you dine in Banzai during lunch and dinner.
Fresh. First thing that popped into my mind upon seeing their spread. Want further proof of the freshness? I chanced upon the staff and one of Banzai’s two Japanese chef Hiroshi clutching this huge fish which they are about to slice into sashimi!
A few steps down is the Takoyaki and Japanese Pizza Station. I admit, this is the first time I have seen that a Japanese street food is glorified and earned its own spot in a buffet spread. Takoyaki is Japan’s take on a savory pancake, filled with vegetables and octopus. Banzai’s takoyaki is cooked in a matter of minutes, served piping hot. Same goes to their Japanese pizza. Pizza is, of course, not really Japanese but the flavors that Banzai came up with is sure within Japanese territory: Teriyaki pizza!
Adjacent to the Takoyaki Station is the Ramen and Gyoza Station. Ramen is all the craze in the metro right now, with ramen bars popping up here and there. In Banzai, ramen is highly customizable to suit every diner’s preference. A selection of pan-fried Japanese dumpling or gyoza is available too for the taking.
Right next to it, the Yakitori Station. Sticks of skewered meat and vegetables lined up in this station, waiting to be grilled. A few of those not found in sticks are bacon-wrapped goodies like asparagus, potato wedges and kani sticks. Just tell the staff which ones you like and how many pieces of each, and they will just give you a restaurant pager to alert you when your order is ready.
Beside the Yakitori Station, Agemono Station gives a quick fix to your battered and deep fried cravings. Tempura and katsu aplenty in this station. If ever you find yourself faced with a seemingly empty station, fret not. They did not run out of tempura or katsu, they just want to keep everything crunchy and freshly cooked, so they prepare only in small batches. You can always request that they fry a piece or two of the tempura that you like, and they will gladly oblige.
The food stations are arranged in a half-circle with the Dessert Station and Salad Station placed in the center, tying everything together. Quite clever positioning if you’d ask me, to place the veggies with the sweets in one area — the saccharine sweets tempting the health-conscious and currently (or forever?!) in diet mode to declare the day as a cheat day and try them out, whilst those that are seemingly allergic to vegetables are beckoned to try something healthy and nutritious even just once, because they are guaranteed to be tasty too.
The Salad Station, apart from the usual array of vegetables and other tasty ingredients that would make an otherwise boring mix a little livelier, has also in its arsenal a spread of readily made salads and a Cold Soba Station in it. Yes, that light and cold counterpart of ramen is also present as an appetizer.
Cake slices, dessert shots, lava cake, walnut tart, meringue pie, cream puff and make-your-own snow cone station. You name it, Banzai has it in mini portions. Enough for that single bite just to give your taste buds some sweet escape from all the savory deliciousness you have been gorging on. And if you are indeed through going the rounds, if you have really filled yourself to the brim, a good cup of coffee is the perfect end to a very satisfying (and heavy!) meal.
There you have it, a tour of Banzai: The Great Authentic Japanese Buffet that I get to have lunch in last Monday. Freshness and quality are topnotch in this new favorite Japanese buffet of mine. Want to know what I had for lunch? Pretty much everything (I had no choice! We were told to sample everything!).
BANZAI: The Great Authentic Japanese Buffet Restaurant
Bldg J, By the Bay Leisure Park, Seaside Blvd., SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City (beside Buffet 101)
Open Monday to Sunday – 10 A.M. to 9 P.M.
For inquiries, contact 09155245705, 09176687022, 09228413859, 09063873353.
For reservations and corporate bookings, please call 09177067328.