One cuisine I always tend to enjoy indulging in, because it is both plentiful, usually of decent quality and surprisingly cheap while in the Philippines is Japanese! (Surprisingly I didn't eat at any Filipino cuisine restaurants on this trip...sorry if you were looking forward to that!)
Kai is a trendy, 'fusion' spin on traditional Japanese cuisine, they were originally based at the mall in Greenbelt 2, but once the sparkling new Greenbelt 5 opened, they closed down and re-opened not too far away. I had been at the old Kai, and I feel they've done quite a good job with redesigning the new location better.
The neutral tones inside, with the slightly dimmed lighting, casts a cool, minimal and laid back vibe through the restaurant. There's a small little sushi bar in one corner, but otherwise the tables for four are all very nice and cosy.
I was accompanied by 3 other friends so we ordered a small smorgasbord to share between the 4 of us!
This dish is apparently the favourite of one of our other friends (who was not with us that night) who is a regular here, wasabi oysters. The batter around the outside was quite thick, but at the same time was quite light and very crunchy, whilst the oyster itself was still quite fresh. I didn't find the wasabi taste came through immensely, but still enjoyed this dish to start with.
Spicy tuna, essentially, tuna sashimi with some chilli sauce smeared over the top. Frankly could have been a little spicier for my tastes, but to be fair the tuna sashimi was quite excellent!
I can never pass up miso eggplant, wherever I go, and it's always interesting to see the variations that turn up for it!
Kai's interpretation was a small (my only complaint really) serve of elegantly sliced eggplants, that were not overly oily and not over dressed with miso paste either, with a lovely soft texture that was not mushy. Very much enjoyed that these were lovely and hot when they arrived at our table as well!
Soft shell crab tempura, I honestly don't have a great recollection of what this was like, but I think I do recall picking on it quite a bit.
On paper, this beef dish with quail egg on top, sounded like quite a treat, but I was immensely disappointed (considering it was under the 'meat' section) that it came out looking so tiny! Where's the meat on that thing?! Not the easiest dish to be split between 4 people and I do wish the staff might have said something!
But on a positive note, the beef was sensational. Mmmm.
These were so good, we ordered one serve, demolished it and ordered a second quite promptly afterwards! I absolutely adore scallop sashimi, especially when it's done well and is icy cold. I love the sweetness and how absolutely smooth and velvety the texture of it is. It's even better when it's resting on half a wheel of lemon, but alas they did not do it at Kai.
And since we didn't feel like we had enough, we went back to the menu and ordered a couple hundred grams of stone grill kobe beef (I think? I didn't order!), which probably turned out to be too much. Ah well, always eating with your eyes first before your stomach non?
The stone grill, was very much in the Japanese or Korean barbeque vein, where you cook the meat yourself, which I don't normally go for. However, I did think our tiny little stone grill was absolutely adorable, and on a plus side, as it was not smoky at all, we did not all have to smell like we just walked out of a chimney afterwards.
It was quite a lot of fun cooking the meat, after rubbing the stone grill with a piece of fat we were given (!), the slices were intensely thin and only needed a very quick searing on both sides before they could just be popped into your mouth and enjoyed. Not the most tender meat I've had, but really very tasty.
You might have noticed we didn't have any sushi rolls while we were at Kai this time, I've had their 'fusion' rolls before and have not been impressed, so have stayed away from those and delighted in the other areas which I think they do a bit better. The four of us really quite enjoyed our night and really did end up polishing off everything we ate.
Oh and they have always done, and still do, a fantastic lychee sake-tini. Who needs a better reason to come back?!
Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center