Japanese food is not particularly hard to find in Manila. Every neighborhood and mall here seems to have a handful of local joints that serve up staple Japanese dishes such as ramen, sushi, and rice bowls. On the other hand, authentic Japanese food requires some digging in Tagaytay. If you’re looking for fresh and organic Japanese food that’s worth getting up off the couch, Aozora Japanese Cafe + Bistro in Tagaytay City is waiting.

Perched on the roof deck of Domicillo Boutique Hotel, AOZORA is actually the first ever Japanese restaurant in Tagaytay. When translated to English, Aozora means “blue sky,” and this makes perfect sense as soon as you see the amazing bird’s eye view of the city and the Lake Taal under the blue sky.

We traveled almost three hours to try their best-selling dishes last Sunday and we were heartened to taste Chef Seiji Kamijo Kamura’s specialties. The cooking was satisfying and approachable. Speaking of which, let’s get into it!

Review of Aozora Japanese Cafe + Bistro (Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City)

Ambiance: ★★★★☆

It’s now the start of rainy season in the Philippines. When temperature is elevated, maybe take a cue and elevate your dining and drinking spot, too! The roof deck where Aozora Japanese Cafe + Bistro is located grants you access to a casual, informal and cozy lounge with soft couches to relax on.

This place also opens up to high-rise views of vistas and astounding nature. Be careful not to lean out over too much or get nearer to the edge of the building, since there’s no glass or wall that can save you from falling down below but strings so fine I don’t trust. Whoops.

Inside the restaurant, the setting is Japanese chic, with quiet and cozy interior offset by interesting lanterns covered with Japanese paper. Conceptually designed by Budji Layug, Aozora’s decors feature neutral tones and cement-washed walls complementing warm-wood fixtures. A sleek bar serving different kinds of alcoholic beverages is a nice addition to the casual yet trendy setup, attracting a mix of locals and out-of-town visitors. What I found somewhat obstrusive though were the two large posts in the middle of the dining area.

This place can host as a good venue for birthday parties, wedding reception, and other events. Accommodation is up to 100 guests considering both indoor and outdoor spaces.

Service: ★★★★☆

Service was solid and friendly. I mostly appreciated staffs telling us the dishes plus their brief descriptions upon serving on the table. Especially since the restaurant is only two months old, it’s a kind gesture and a good move to introduce recommendations on the menu.

Food: ★★★★☆

When it comes to adding a twist of the Filipino cuisine to Japanese, bulalo may prove to be just the ticket. With soup base made with bulalo (beef shank), Aozora Ramen (PhP 295) had a whisper of bone marrow bringing an extra dimension of flavor different from your usual bowl of Japanese ramen. These noodles were imported from Japan and it’s the type that don’t get mushy or thick even after sucking up all the broth. Supported by a simple and savory combination of egg and corn kernels, it’s a mighty “cold-weather” soup that’s a must-try when in Aozora.

The Rainbow Maki (PhP 320) platter consisted of tuna, salmon, tamago, and shime saba (Japanese pickled mackerel) maki that were all incredibly fresh. I guess it’s the way rainbow maki is supposed to be—presented with colorful toppings of rich flesh plus soft white rice making up for balanced, subtle, and restrained tastes. Yummy!

Made up of sauteed mixed vegetables with crunch factor and pork, Yasai Itame was cooked nicely but was nothing special. It’s a simple dish that may be able to cure a hangover.

Crowd-pleasing cuts in dainty portion, Pork Belly Yakiniku with Veggies (PhP 390) were coated in a sweet and salty marinade, similar to its Korean predecessor, kalbi or bulgogi. It somehow had a barbecue taste that’s hard to beat. These thin pieces of pork belly were more like jerky, the kind that will make you smack your lips and make you smile. 🙂

Yakisoba was another hit. The noodles were chewy, wonderfully seasoned, and firm.

Mango Tempura Ice Cream (PhP 180) was a delight. The batter was just a bit too thick but still good. Ultimately it had a crispy golden crust that sealed in the mango bursting with flavor beneath. Light and creamy, a scoop of vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce on top came as a lovely accompaniment.

Kalamancello, an organic drink with 30 percent alcohol, had the zesty essence of calamansi rinds infused into a vodka base. It tasted like sweet lemon or dalandan but more tart, sour, and acidic like lime mojito.

We also tried Aozora’s signature iced tea. The Aozora Iced Tea (PhP 120) was made with lemongrass, pandan, honey and mint leaves. Albeit thirst-quenching, the pandan taste was too strong, concentrated and overpowering and it’s not a wow for me. Anyway, I still commend the creativity that went into its making. This is best recommended if you like to give your taste buds a thrill.

To clear our palate and help with digestion, Key Coffee (PhP 95) was served but we had to wait for a while for it to brew. The taste, aroma, and body of the coffee were absolutely inviting. Apparently, it’s the No. 1 Coffee in Japan.

Price for Value: ★★★☆☆

With its sharp aesthetic, iconic setting, professional customer service, and appealing roster of Japanese food, Aozora Japanese Cafe + Bistro in Tagaytay is a great date spot by any standard. With its presence, there’s plenty more fun now when visiting Tagaytay for a short day tour. Get ready to be served with classic Japanese fare that’s enjoyable, however this obviously comes at an exquisite price. Itadakimasu! 🙂

Thanks to Aldous for organizing the event and Ms. Christine Arriola-Villongco for having us!

Domicillo Hotel, KM Gen. E. 58 Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City, Tagaytay City
For inquiries or reservations, call +6346 4134486, +63906 3501704, +63915 5038800
Date Published: 07/02/2015
15 / 20 stars

Operating Hours: 7:00AM – 10:00PM daily

About 

Health and technology freak. Food and lifestyle blogger with a large appetite for food and travel.

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42 Responses

  1. Ourfamilyworld

    My family is a great fan of Japanese food and you are so right when you mentioned that you could practically find a Japanese restaurant in Manila anywhere you look. This is the first time I heard of Aozora. It looks nice and the food looks delicious. Would love to try it when we head to Tagaytay next weekend.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It opened just two months ago, and locals and tourists start to be interested. Being the first authentic Japanese restaurant in Tagaytay is a great thing. I hope they keep up the good standard and satisfy every customer. 🙂

      Reply
  2. HauteFrugalista

    love the view and ambience. Such a lounge cool place to have a meal. The rainbow maki and mango tempura were my fave dishes. I love fresh raw seafood and tropical fruits, so they won my heart!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Those two were also my favorites in Aozora. It’s good that you already know what to order and minimize time spent in deciding which food to get. 🙂

      Reply
  3. Jaime Nicole

    The food looks amazing. I love Japanese food and I would imagine it is incredible where you are. As long as the sodium isn’t too terribly high, I really enjoy the broad flavors palette you get with that food. So delicious!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Consuming a hot bowl of ramen in a cool environment such as in Aozora is a pretty good experience. It was just a bit sad that it rained in the afternoon. We didn’t have more time to enjoy the breeze outside.

      Reply
  4. Michele

    All of this food looks amazing! I love how much variety you guys received for your meals. We don’t have any Japanese restaurants by us so we haven’t had anything like this in quite a while.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Compared to the Japanese restaurants we have here in Manila, food at Aozora in Tagaytay is pretty average. Still, they’re worth a shot. 🙂 The dishes had the right amount of flavor and the aroma will waken your senses!

      Reply
  5. Chantal

    Wow I love the outdoor furniture and the scenery as well! That looks like a fabulous place to hang out! To top it all off the food looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing the unique restaurant with us!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You’re welcome. If you have the time to go for a day tour in Tagaytay, stop by Aozora Japanese Cafe and let them win you over with charm, grand service, and a good meal experience! 🙂

      Reply
  6. mr_jeng

    WOW this looks awesome.. Is this place new? … The place looks cool and the view wow… hmmmm next up im there I’m going to give this a try 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes, it’s new. 🙂 If you’re stay-cationing at any hotel in Tagaytay, this restaurant may be worth your time. Get there early for easier parking.

      Reply
  7. Carlo Olano

    Quiet pricey but I guess they are just matching the prevailing prices on Japanese food. The Mango Tempura Ice Cream is the food that I would probably want to try. Crunchy, Creamy, and Fruity = A dessert that I want to experience. 😉

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yup, that one dessert item won’t fail your expectation. 🙂 It has a good texture however if you have a more hearty appetite, you may want to double the order to feel satisfied. 😛

      Reply
  8. Adanna

    That Mango Tempura Ice Cream have my name written all over it. Looks like this resturant was worth the 3 hour drive there. I love Japanese food and from the looks of your photos and reviews it did not disappoint. I also like the location.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Aozora offers quite a variety of Japanese dishes, but I think it’s the ambiance that you should go for here more than the food. Its location is pretty intimate and private. 🙂 Pray that it doesn’t rain on your day of visit.

      Reply
  9. Franc Ramon

    The rainbow Maki looks enticing. They also have a lot of interesting dishes here plus it’s in Tagaytay, which has a really good weather.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, now that it’s the start of the rainy season, the temperature just got colder. More people go to Tagaytay to enjoy the coolness alone. Dining at Aozora will make you pleased with fresh and authentic Japanese food.

      Reply
  10. papaleng

    The place is literally cool. Malamig ngayon sa Tagaytay. The Rainbow Maki is something I like to have on my table. Yummy sa tingin ko.

    Reply
  11. Karen

    Another Japanese restaurant to try aside from Tokyo Tokyo and Kimono Ken. What I really love is the Japanese mixed veggies, so I will really munch on Yasai Itame if ever I’ll be visiting Aozora in Tagaytay

    Reply
  12. Amanda @ Adorkablii

    I have never had Japanese food but I have to say it all looks amazing! It totally just made me hungry! Haha. The outdoor furniture is so beautiful! And that view, I would love to be able to just see that alone! I mean it’s beautiful! I could stand there all day and just take that view in! =D

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yes. I think it’s a wise strategy to have Aozora built on a top floor of a hotel in Tagaytay. It can serve as a pleasing retreat location as well. We will be coming back to try more food on the menu. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Tami Q.

    I have never tried authentic Japanese food. Some of the dishes look interesting but I’m not sure I’d try them all. Too bad this isn’t in my area but I’m sure I can find a similar restaurant to try out.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Out here, we’re blessed with an abundance of Japanese restaurants. Generally, I don’t like those cheap ones that sacrifice quality for price. I’m more likely to settle in a fine dining resto that’s sure to satisfy my taste buds. 🙂

      Reply
  14. Stephanie of The TipToe Fairy

    This looks like a delicious meal! I would love to try the ramen bowl. My kids would probably love the sushi. They just love sushi. The tea looks very interesting. I would be interested in trying the flavor. The vodka drink sounds delicious as well!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      You should get that tea if you’re really feeling bored and adventurous at the same time. The flavor gives a different kick that will waken up your senses.

      Reply
  15. geanine

    The sweet tooth of mine is calling for the Mango Tempura Ice Cream it looks delicious! I would for sure go right to dessert, and add in the Kalamancello for sure. Sadly I’m not in Japan, but I am eager to find a local restaurtaunt tha has Tempura Ice Cream!

    Reply
  16. Stephanie C

    The food, the meal, the outdoor space – what an amazing experience and restaurant. I love seeing spaces & places like this in other countries. I would choose the ramen bowl and that tempura ice cream – looks so delish!

    Reply
  17. Teresa Martinez

    I would definitely try the yakisoba and mango tempura ice cream so will keep this place in mind as Tagaytay is very accessible from our place.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh wow you won’t have much problem finding the location then. 🙂 That portion of yakisoba is really for sharing. You’d love the texture of the noodles.

      Reply
  18. Summer

    We don’t have Japanese resto here in our province/city, only Chinese resto. I like the place. It really has the Japanese ambiance. I like anything that has noodles! They’re all look appetizing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Interior design was done well. I like the cleanliness and simplicity of the place. Make sure you have a big appetite when you visit Aozora in Tagaytay para masulit na ang pagpunta mo hehe. 🙂

      Reply
  19. stevevhan

    Seriously, i want to try that tea! OMG! 🙂 This is again a good addition for me as i start travelling by the end of this year! 🙂

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      It’s their signature tea and I haven’t tried the same in other places ever. The taste is not so bad but it’s just not the flavor I would normally choose to get for myself.

      Reply
  20. Pal Raine

    I am not fond of a Japanese food, but I like their Ramen! The place is cool and very refreshing. Love the idea that they put a roof deck to see the view of the city and the lake.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      That ramen has a spin of the usual Japanese ramen because of the bulalo. You have to give it a try once you find yourself in Tagaytay. 🙂 Ambiance was quaint and traditional but with modern touches hither and tither as well.

      Reply

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