At Big Jap in Makati, budget-friendly tabs and good service embellish the subdued ambiance. Big Jap is the only restaurant housed in 24H Apartment Hotel. It serves Continental breakfast from 7:00AM mostly for hotel guests and offers à la carte Japanese food from day to night. While this restaurant looks unassuming from the outside, inside this cozy venue, an experienced chef who has worked in Japan produces fabulous Japanese dishes of good quality. Awesome set meals earn plaudits of “wow.” More on these below.
with owners Raymond and Maritess
Review of Big Jap (24H Apartment Hotel, La Paz, Makati)
Big Jap is a relaxed, comfortable contemporary Japanese restaurant featuring sumo as its overall theme. There’s no wresting going on, but I guess part of that concept is that it serves big plates of reasonably priced food made with top quality ingredients.
Dining area is wide and spacious, so this restaurant can accommodate small to large groups. There’s also a small function room at the back for more intimate dining with friends. This place does not mimic a full-on authentic and traditional Japanese design, but you can still fall in love with its very simple aesthetic that is clean and modest.
Service was kind, helpful, and accommodating. Staff handed me out the menu and gave me the Wi-Fi Internet password upon request as soon as I walked into the restaurant. Orders came out fast and served with a smile.
Rice Toppings (Donburimono)
Oyakodon (PhP 175) is a classic form of Japanese rice bowl dish. Oyako means “parent and child” and this makes oyakodon represent “the chicken and the egg.” Big Jap’s version was both delicate and comforting. It’s not too salty and soy sauce was not too strong either. The slightly caramelized onions gave it light sweetness. Putting a thin layer of sesame seeds on the rice prior to laying down the main dish would add a nice flavor and a bit of texture.
Gyudon (PhP 190) is another popular Japanese dish consisting of sliced beef and egg. Simmered in a sweet soy sauce-based sauce and served over a bowl of steamed white rice, the beef was tasty. I just hoped that there could be an option to add more raw eggs to give out a richer flavor and creamy consistency on the meat. Gyudon, after all, won’t taste as good without a crown—or crowns—of golden yolk.
With mildly sweet sauce, Butanikudon (PhP 165) was a bit of a letdown for me and it wasn’t very memorably. The pork slices with onion combo was a bit too plain and dry to my liking.
Big Jap’s Shoyu Ramen (PhP 220) had a very light, clear and thin broth that was mediocre. I thought there are better versions. The noodles were excellent though. They were not starchy and the texture was just slightly springy giving a good bite.
Eat All You Can Set
Nope, it’s not a seasonal deal. You can get unlimited Shrimp Tempura (PhP 250 individually), Deep-fried Tonkatsu (pork chops) (PhP 145 individually), Scallion Rice, and the Iced Tea Special (PhP 55 individually) at only PhP 448. Exemplary! All in this set tasted supremely good. The tempura and tonkatsu were fried nicely and not too greasy. The complimentary sauces (wasabi mayo, tempura sauce, and teriyaki sauce) on the side were well-balanced and palate-pleasing.
Big Jap’s Team Sumo (PhP 758) is another great steal. If you find it hard to choose which to order, getting this sumo platter (for four people) will make your day. You can choose among “tonkatsu, teriyaki, or teppanyaki” for Pork, “katsu, teriyaki, or teppanyaki” for Chicken, and “kani tempura, katsu sakana furai, or tempura squid teppanyaki” for Seafood to make up your own set meal. This also comes with yakisoba, nikuyasai itame, gohan and red iced tea. Home run.
Desserts at Big Jap get an A+ in my book.
The Buco Supreme (PhP 65) was delicious and dreamy. I’m not sure why and how it’s added to a Japanese restaurant’s menu since it’s not too “Japanese.” Regardless, this is an absolute must-order! 🙂 I enjoyed the light sweetness and perfect creaminess punctuated with shredded young coconut.
The Coffee Jelly with Ice Cream (PhP 65) tasted like holiday cheer. It’s like a soft flan with vanilla ice cream mixed with coffee explosions in your mouth. Yum!
The Banana Surprise (PhP 125, big; PhP 85, small) easily became one of our favorites. Topped with cream, the banana fritter in cake form was made with light batter. It was thick, moist, and fluffy! This sweet treat may have cost me a few calories, but it was so worth it. 🙂
Price for Value: ★★★★☆
Big Jap is a brisk ten-minute walk from Ayala. If you’re working in Makati area, this can serve as one of your go-to business lunch spots. Best of all, you can walk right in without a reservation—even if you’re not wearing black designer duds or in a formal attire. 😉 Prices have good value, considering the portion, presentation and the tastes of food. Each dish was substantial in its own way, and for that, we will definitely pay Big Jap a return visit. Thanks to Aldous for the invite!