Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant at the Diamond Hotel

Growing up, when shopping malls were just a handful, I remember hanging out at hotels with my family. We love having our afternoon snack at the lobby and later on would continue to have dinner in one of the hotel's food establishments. We would frequent the ones in Ortigas simply because its really near our home.

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Once in a while though, we would venture further to Makati or Manila to check a new hotel out. One of which was the Diamond Hotel where I remember having buffet dinners at the Palm Court (now called Corniche) and being prohibited from entering the Sky Bar because we were underage. Mommy and my A-I (ah-yi) loves the tempura at the hotel's Japanese restaurant and they have been telling us about it for more than a decade now. I wonder how come we never were able to try it out ourselves before.

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At last, the time has come that it was MY turn. Turning 30, Paul and I celebrated my birthday with our friends from Diamond Hotel. Dinner was set to be at Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant and we're having teppanyaki dinner! How exciting!

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I love teppanyaki as I enjoy watching the chef perform tricks as he cooks our beef, seafood and my favorite teppanyaki fried rice on the grill. I love the pretty interiors of Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant. It feels like walking inside a Japanese courtyard complete with a pretty cherry blossom tree at the main dining hall. Along the way, you'll see private rooms where you can host your dinner party with privacy.

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We were led towards the teppanyaki table which can seat 8 pax.

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Yurakuen has an Eat-all-you-can Teppanyaki promo that runs every day for both lunch and dinner. The rate is Php. 2,500 nett per person and you get to choose from their long list of meats, seafood, veggies and more. You can also have some appetizers, sushi, salads and some drinks too. There are some premium items on the menu though that will cost you an additional Php 500 such as the lobster, seabass, and the US wagyu beef. Believe me, the extra price for the lobster was worth it!

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While waiting for our dinner companions, Paul and I got our choice drinks -- Orange Juice for me, Pineapple Juice for him. We both love citrus fruits! Go Vitamin C! :)

Our saucer was filled with three different sauces: one of the beef, seafood and veggies. Honestly, I can't remember which sauce is which so I just tried all and ended up liking the one in the middle very much.

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For our appetizer, we tried an assortment of hand-made sushi and fresh sashimi. You can see that everything on my plate were obviously chosen by yours truly! These are just a few of my favorite things -- Uni Sushi, Fish Roe Sushi, Salmon Sushi and lastly, Tamago Sushi. Yum! I also had some Chukka Wakame Salad which was very fresh and good too.

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Meet Chef Bebong, he was our chef for that evening and we had a great time chatting with him. As I write this, I believe that Chef is currently in his hometown having his honeymoon as he told us that he's getting married this June. Congratulations Chef! Lucky wife of his, she will never go hungry!

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Chef began his show a.k.a. our dinner with some veggies. According to him, in Japan, they like starting their meal with lots of greens. No wonder they manage to stay so slim. We had a mix of beansprout, onions, tofu and mushroom. Yum!

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Check out all the meat and seafood that Chef has prepared for us! My eyes widened at the sight of those huge prawns and lobsters! I'm glad Chef Bebong decided to cook the seafood next. He must have sensed how excited we were to have our prawns, scallops and lobsters already. The prawns were fired up and cooked with a good bite. It stayed so juicy and sweet. I think I can have a plateful of prawns and be a happy camper that evening.

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The lobsters was also very good. After grilling the lobster, Chef Bebong sent the remaining meat and shell back to the kitchen and later on, we were served with a bowl of Lobster Miso Soup each. Taking a sip, I was able to quickly taste the sweet lobster flavor. Mmm...

We also enjoyed the scallops and it was during this time that Chef shared with us that one customer enjoyed the scallops so much that he had kilos worth of scallops cooked that day. Not really a big surprise as the teppanyaki scallops were indeed very delicious.

Throughout the course of dinner, we ate, drank and chatted with one another. Chef Bebong was really friendly that he gamely answered all questions thrown to him. We enjoyed the rib eye and wagyu steak as well as the teppanyaki salmon which was so tender. The lamb was also good and Chef even prepared a special sauce that consists of some mint jelly and butter.

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As if we're not already about to burst from all that food, Chef prepared some Japanese Fried Rice to go with our meat. Obviously, Chef was totally in love that evening that he formed a big heart while cooking our fried rice. Despite how full you may be, trust me, you have to have some Japanese Fried Rice. This is one thing that I never miss ordering whenever I'm dining at a Japanese restaurant. I love how sticky and savory the rice was. It has a good mix of carrots, spring onions, seafood and egg making it so yummy.

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After dinner, the Yurakuen staff surprised me with a special birthday cake. They presented this as they sang the Happy Birthday song! Thank you guys! *blush*

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After preparing the last dish, Chef excused himself and headed to the kitchen. He was away when the cake arrived and sadly, he missed all the singing that his staff did. He arrived shortly after with DESSERT! First was a fruit platter with a mix of fresh, sweet fruits that Paul and I enjoyed. I loved the pineapple, the sweet mangoes and the juicy watermelon. Definitely a good way to end such an filling meal.

However...Chef has also prepared a bowl of homemade ice cream which my husband enjoyed very much. We tried all the five flavors and loved the black sesame, ube and chocolate the most.

What a great meal and a wonderful way to end my week-long birthday celebration! :) I'm so glad that I was finally able to try Yurakuen and while I wasn't able to try the much talked about tempura (I'll save that for my next visit), I now know why my Mom and A-I couldn't stop raving about this great Japanese restaurant for years. I'll be doing the same from now on.

Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant is located at the G/F Diamond Hotel, Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J. Quintos street in Manila. For reservations, call 528-3000. Yurakuen is open from 11AM to 10PM, daily.

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