10 Jul2011

A superb dish of maguro sashimi…

We have been visiting/working in Cebu much more often than usual in the past two months, and have sought out some new places to eat. One evening I had a hankering for Japanese food so we headed to the Crossroads mall to try a new noodle place. Turns out that we went into the “wrong” place, and while it didn’t seem new at all (it’s been there for several years I am told), we were hungry and decided to stay. Before even glancing at the menu, I immediately placed an order for maguro (tuna) sashimi and the server went off to get it while we reviewed the menu. Tuna sashimi is what I use as a “gauge” for a Japanese restaurant if they have it on the menu. A plain spaghetti al pomodoro or margherita is what I use in a casual Italian restaurant. The sashimi that arrived minutes later was STUNNING. I couldn’t believe it. Here we were in a mid-priced grotty joint but the sashimi looked wonderful. I added just a little touch of soy and wasabi and placed a slice on my tongue. Excellent. Couldn’t believe our luck. Ordered another one instantly. :)

Most Japanese restaurants that don’t charge stratospheric prices usually serve pre-portioned, packaged, frozen then thawed tuna sashimi. It is often paler, watery, and a bit mushy when it gets to the table. But this tuna was really fine. At PHP240 or so (the price of half a kilo of lechon!) for 6 small pieces, it was pricey, but worth it. The texture and mouth feel alone made me wonder if we just got lucky, arrived on tuna delivery day, or the owner was an avid angler or something… The very competent bowl of hot ramen that followed was nice, but I was still thinking about the tuna. To make sure it wasn’t an anomaly, we returned a couple of weeks later, with a camera, and I snapped the photo up top. This second visit yielded a tuna that was one notch below the first time we tried it, but still several notches above par for Japanese restaurants I tend to frequent to get my fix of noodles, sashimi, etc. We had several types of ramen, all good, and I had a bowl of hiyashi chukka, a cold vinegary noodle dish I really like. The cold noodles were good at Banri, but not great. The Teen had terrific dumplings or gyoza, some beef yakiniku, etc. Mrs. MM had had their tofu dishes and other specials and we were very pleased over all. Service was efficient on all our visits. Ignore the unremarkable, kind of grotty, tired dining room — just focus on the food. :)

We liked the place so much we’ve been back several times in the past 8 weeks. Count on PHP400-550 ($10-14) per person on average, depending on what you order. Banri Noodle House, Crossroads Mall, Banilad, Cebu City. Telephone 032.234.0488.



  1. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    And I was just thinking of a japanese dinner for tonight….have not been there yet! Another place you should try is Yu-Yu-Tei at the Gallery.

    Jul 10, 2011 | 7:37 am


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  3. Lambchop says:

    Another really good Japanese place to try is Nonki in A.S. Fortuna, Mandaue. It’s authentic and really delicious. :)

    Jul 10, 2011 | 10:45 am

  4. Marketman says:

    Lambchop, yes, I like Nonki a lot at that location, it’s watered down at other branches…

    Jul 10, 2011 | 11:01 am

  5. Gerry says:

    Most bluefin tuna sold in Japan is frozen. They freeze the tuna quickly to a temperature of -60C. There is very little damage to the cell structure when this is done, so it will not leak water when defrosted and will taste almost as fresh. Davao has this deep freeze technology since they export tuna to Japan.

    Jul 10, 2011 | 12:58 pm

  6. kittel says:

    one more reason to go to cebu…

    Jul 10, 2011 | 4:10 pm

  7. rosedmd says:

    oh ,boy. another reason to go back. i wasn’t even able to try that mexican resto same place. i was so loaded with lechon when i was there. ..but, still can’t wait for another eyeball.

    Jul 10, 2011 | 7:20 pm

  8. Carol says:

    Hi MM – good to know there’s a good affordable Japanese resto in Cebu which we can try the next time we are there (after having our quota for lechon fare of course ! :)). Rose md’s comment below triggered my memory for the best crispy pork belly I ever had. My father-in-law ordered this at Maya’s and all of us were impressed with its crispy skin and still moist and tender meat. Along with Zubuchon, we look forward to going back to Cebu to savor Maya’s crispy pork liempo again. Unfortunately, we didn’t like the other Mexican dishes on offer in Maya.

    Have a good week ahead everyone! :)

    Jul 11, 2011 | 6:47 am

  9. Tugashaligi says:


    I think the reason why Cebu has good Japanese restaurants is the number of Japanese expats living here (recently outnumbered by the Koreans). There’s also the weekend Japanese golfers who fly down here. You might also want to try Yumeya Kihei, a local favorite of the Japanese ambassador. A Japanese friend of mine also said you can get whale, chicken, and horse sashimi in a few select restaurants here. No I haven’t tried yet. I’m curious about the whale sashimi though.

    Jul 11, 2011 | 6:45 pm

  10. Tugashaligi says:

    Oh my favorite at the A.S. Fortuna Nonki is the Kareno Karaage!

    Jul 11, 2011 | 6:49 pm

  11. luisa ditan says:

    nonki and ginza — both good japanese restos.
    yumehya — best kamameshi rice :)

    Jul 11, 2011 | 7:12 pm

  12. Maricel says:

    Nice shots MM. What camera did you get?

    Jul 12, 2011 | 6:34 am

  13. ami says:

    Funny, I also have items that I order to gauge japanese restaurants when I try them for the very first time. Mine is tempura and beef ramen.

    Wow, now I’m craving for japanese food. Not good since it’s only 8:27 am and it’s still 3+ hours to go till lunch time :(

    Jul 12, 2011 | 8:28 am

  14. Kasseopeia says:

    Oh no, wrong move to read this before I could get breakfast in my tummy! I think it’s going to be Kikufuji for dinner later. Hyuk hyuk…

    I also use tuna and salmon (if they have it) as my gauge for Japanese restos that I visit. If they can screw up tuna, how much more the other dishes. A pasta aglio olio is my Italian resto benchmark while I use hakaw/hargao for dimsum places.

    Going back to that beautiful sashimi… 240 for 6 pieces is a steal!

    Jul 12, 2011 | 9:27 am

  15. millet says:

    glad to find another hiyashi chukka fan! my family thinks it’s weird, but they always end up sharing my order just the same.

    Jul 12, 2011 | 4:54 pm

  16. Elodie Jane Amora says:

    I love Banri Noodle House! I also love Tajimaya which is in Crossroads as well. And if you really love Ramen, let me recommend you Ramen Kamekichi in F. Cabahug Street :)

    Jul 13, 2011 | 4:30 am

  17. Paquito says:

    (inviting the wife for a japanese dinner tonight) :D

    Jul 14, 2011 | 2:29 pm

  18. ilovecheapcalls says:

    sashimi looks MOUTH WATERING. cebu’s a good place to order fish – it would all be fresh. Yummy.

    Jul 21, 2011 | 9:25 am

  19. britelite says:

    did go there as per your recommendation–didn’t disappoint at all!

    Jul 21, 2011 | 10:43 pm

  20. Stephanie Sy says:

    I LOVE Banri Noodle House! Food is always fresh, authentic, delicious and never fails to hit the spot. You guys have to check out their other restaurant Spice Fusion in Banilad Town Center. They serve up absolutely mouth watering Southeast Asian fare, you really must try it if you haven’t already.

    Sep 24, 2011 | 9:54 pm


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