Kokoro Japanese Grindz offers Japanese-Hawaiian fusion food and specializes in sushi rolls, ramen, and takoyaki. We came here for lunch and enjoyed 30% discount off the bill thanks to Eatigo. Based on photos and reviews online, the ultimate showstopper has to be their sushi rolls.
Review of Kokoro Japanese Grindz (Tomas Morato, Quezon City)
Kokoro Japanese Grindz seems like a neighborhood-y type of haunt. The setting is photogenic and lovely to behold. With light wooden fixtures, colorful backdrops, and ambient lighting, this restaurant on the ground floor of Creekside Square doesn’t lack in charm. The decors may be minimal, exuding a vibe of surf culture, but there’s no need to be fancy anyway.
Usually when a restaurant has many menu sections, it’s not a good sign, but here there’s much more good than bad. We tried getting one from each section and ended up with a bunch of pretty items that tasted as good as they looked.
For our starter, the Gyoza (PhP 160) wasn’t the most memorable but it was okay. The ground pork filling was tasty and the wrappers were pan-fried to just the right consistency, providing a light, savory crunch to accentuate the meat. The dish was accompanied with soy ginger sauce. Although this condiment wasn’t even necessary, it complemented the gyoza well.
Secondly, we opted to try their Takoyaki (PhP 140). I was craving for it for a long time now and was pleasantly satisfied with its overall taste and texture. With a good mouthfeel, the takoyaki was filled and topped with lots of precious goodies and a riot of condiments: negi, cabbage, aonori, katsu sauce, wasabi mayo, mashed egg, and katsuobushi (dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna). These battered octopus balls were seriously a delicious and gooey Japanese treat!
Since Kokoro Japanese Grindz is also known for its ramen, we couldn’t get away not ordering at least one. We shared a bowl of Taboo (PhP 330). It’s ramen with tonkotsu broth base with triple garlic, served with fried garlic, mayo, garlic oil, kizami nori, pork belly chashu, negi, moyashi, and ajitama. It was creamy but not too thick. There’s a comforting profoundness to the broth that I enjoyed, all brightened up with a bit of seaweed which gave a hint of umami depth.
Loco Moco (PhP 290) is their take on Hawaii’s comfort food. It looked appetizing on the plate, served with pork belly chashu, gravy, sunny side up egg, togarashi, negi, and kizami nori.
As shared on my Instagram feed, Bathala (PhP 280) is the bomb! What more can I say? It’s a textural and tasty masterpiece, with sweet, salty, and spicy flavors in one bite. The preparation was flawless and this one really conveyed all the wonderful characteristics of its ingredients beautifully accented by just a kick of moderate heat. If we ever go back to this restaurant, I’d order this again with no hesitation. Yum!
El Diablo (PhP 250) was another standout. Made with tuna, crab meat, avocado, cream cheese, baked tempura shrimps, wasabi mayo, sweet sauce, aonori, habanero sauce, this deep-fried sushi roll had a balanced bite of sweet and savory I reveled in. There was much more going on here than in your typical roll. Loved. It!
Their specialty sashimi, Abura Salmon (PhP 220) was served with their special blend soy sauce, ginger, cilantro, and sesame seeds. The course brought out no less than four cuts for us to enjoy. The salmon had a clean and mild taste and was great with a dab of soy.
Finally, we opted for something with vegetables and quickly, the Veggie Spring Rolls (PhP 150) filled up that last remaining bit of space in our stomachs. Tightly wrapped with rice paper, the rolls were composed of cucumber, avocado, shredded carrots, and green leaf lettuce. The pieces had a satisfyingly crunch but were a little bland. Good thing, the Japanese sesame dressing was also provided for the rescue.
Price for Value:
Operating somewhat under the radar, Kokoro Japanese Grindz did not disappoint. Hardcore sushi roll purists may be put off by the liberal use of toppings, but I found that they largely added a new dimension to the dish. Many bites were great but there were also those that were okay to pass. Service was attentive, with excellent recommendations and a good cadence of dish delivery. Prices have good value; the range won’t burn a hole in your wallet.