When you’ve visited a place for far too long, far too many times, it becomes lackluster. Maginhawa, for instance, is a food haven for those living in the South; but it is just the strip of neighborhood eatery for others. The Ayala Malls, exempli gratia, may be an exotic place for people that hail from the North; but for others, it is a local grocery one jeepney-ride away.

But look around for a moment and think how special some of these places are from the eyes of an outsider.

If I were to bring my friends (pretty much every one of them live in Quezon City and who indulges me with a trip to any hole-in-the-wall places in the Maginhawa area) to Makati for Japanese snacks, we would take three stops.

1 Café Shibuya

Location: 3rd floor Glorietta

When I first discovered Café Shibuya, it was a night filled with an eagerness of binge relaxation (read: I want to eat in a place without customers).

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That is not to say that this is a bad place to eat. On contraire, it is a nice place to order and eat a signature toast (sweet or savory) for sharing or indulge yourselves in any of their drinks, blessings over a nice conversation.

You’d want to visit this café in the middle of the Glorietta corridors at night, on a weekday, when nobody else is there. Best enjoyed by small groups because food does not easily/immediately come out of the kitchen.

When I found out that another Café Shibuya was also located along Katipunan in the North, my first reaction was “Boo!” :p

2 Kumori

Location: Landmark Food Court Basement

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kumoriph

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I kept my eye on this stall the first they put the plyboards and tarpaulins up saying “Kumori: Japanese Bakery Opening Soon.” It feels amazing to have more and more Japanese goodies in the country even though they come in small stalls.

Kumori, a Japanese bakery, is located beside another bakeshop in the Landmark Makati fast food basement. It serves cakes and sweet and savory breads. If you like your bread with hotdog filling or pizza toppings, I think you should just buy from the bakery beside it. Food here is pretty pricey (P50+) but totally worth it if you want to try something new, something Japanese, and something to appease your sweet cravings.

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Kumori’s specialty is the Hanjuku cheesecake (original and chocolate) which is a melt-in-your-mouth, mammon- kind of bread. They have three kinds of Toyohashi pudding (original cheesecake, matcha green tea, and chocolate) which seem like non-Newtonian fluids but taste so much better than that. They also have an interesting Tofu cheesecake – which I will try next time though I don’t have the stomach for tofu or a particular liking for cheesecake. Hey, how many times do you get to say “I’ve eaten a tofu cheesecake” without a “Good job, Japan” comment afterward?

If you want to try new things, don’t go for their easy open cases, but order those in their display cases because those are some special food.

3 Hokkaido Takoyaki

Location: SM Makati Food Court Basement

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hokkaidotakoyaki.ph?fref=ts

If you are in the mood for good takoyaki (octopus balls) but don’t want to spend over P100, Hokkaido Takoyaki at SM food court basement can satisfy your fix. For P99, you can have six pieces of octopus, kani + mozzarella, bacon + cheese, or scallops. They are very generous with their sauce and they don’t charge for the bonito flakes. Quite filling if you want to have a light lunch.

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If you have friends from the North who need to have their Japanese food cravings fixed, you could bring them to these places – or order the food for take out; but when all else fails, hey Little Tokyo is just a few minutes away.

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