I’ve always wanted to eat affordable Japanese food when I was still a student in UST.
It’s just almost 1 year after graduation that this awesome place sprouted up in the water-logged town of Espanya. It was exciting that we were able to try it out.
Kiku or Chrysanthemum was taken from the emperor’s seal which is also based on the original Chrysanthemum flowers.
The simple yet spacious one-story establishment along Espana is dressed with wooden chairs and tables, and a long counter at the left side where orders are taken. The menu has various choices- Ramen, Donburi, Salads, Gyoza, Maki, Katsu, Dimsum and even Milktea!
Affordable Japanese food
We appreciate the fusion of modern minimalism with traditional Japanese atmosphere. This was achieved with white walls and wooden furniture. This created an authentic modern-Japanese feel for the place.
Minimal Japanese Atmosphere
The samurai and the shrimp
Perfect fusion of Shrimp and Salad
One of the highlights was the tempura. It was good on its own but when eaten together with the salad it will take you for a good ride. The crunchiness of the salad compliments the tempura as the shrimp flavors burst when you take a bite. The soy sauce also easily compliments the shrimp on its own.
Tempura (Php 90.00)
“I can imagine a highly skilled Japanese samurai cutting the pieces of the vegetables to be as crunchy as it is.”
Espanya is flooded… with Ramen?
When talking about Japanese food and culture, Ramen easily becomes part of the conversation. I remember watching Naruto when I was still a “totoy” watching Naruto eat ramen with his comrades made me feel hungry. I had been fond of Ramen since then, just like Naruto (the protagonist of the story).
They offer Ramen with two kinds of broths, shoyu and miso. Both topped with slices of pork. The noodles are neither too hard nor too soggy. Their Ramen comes in three sizes Kiku (Php 65), Prince (Php 75), and Emperor (Php 85). We recommend trying one of their Ramen together with Gyoza (Php 45). The gyozas are a steal for its price, with a winning soft filling and crunchy wrap.
Gyoza (Dimsum and Dumpling)
The Ramen Kiku serves makes the top choices for me considering the budget range it’s in. Students can now enjoy a bowl of hot Ramen after experiencing the cold chills of a thesis defense or a mid-exam mind-block.
That tender porky goodness
Man! Even as I write this, I can still taste the juicy and tender pork cuts they served us. I have tried many a Japanese-themed restaurants and rarely do I come upon a place that gets the meat-cooking accurately right.
Oyagudon and Katsudon (Php 90.00)
This goes for both the ramen and the pork Donburi. Their sauces also easily compliment their dishes. The great combinations hint on the time spent for trying things out and getting the flavors to play in a glorious harmony inside your mouth.
(Tofu Itame Php 65.00)
More than the food
Ramen, Donburi and Milk Tea
You definitely have to try their Milk Tea, we recommend the Okinawa and Hokaido flavors. Sipping the cold drinks made me feel like I’m visiting the Japanese provinces they were named after.
Japanese plus Milk Tea equals a chill afternoon with friends. Kiku also handles reservations for meeting and other events. Kiku is located just below Dormus making it easily accessible for any Japanese food enthusiast.
The journey begins with a single step
We had the chance to chat with Mr. Erol Bautista, manager of the place. He told us about their vision for the restaurant -”To be able to create more food choices and to provide a more exciting experience for diners”. This includes being able to fully air-condition the place.
Mr. Erol tells us the story of how his brother, Ericson Bautista, who was a chef in Japan conceptualized Kiku and did all the logistics of bringing Japanese culture and food to the students of Ubelt.
A future Japanese Empire in the streets of Espanya
Kiku is definitely one of the budget friendly food spots you can find around the town. The quality of the food is a steal for its price. The Japanese modern-Japanese atmosphere will definitely make you stay, while a bowl of ramen and a cup of milk tea will make you come back. They are open from 9am to 11pm during school season, and 11am to 11pm during summer. Also, they are open for reservations if you have any events and meetings.
We can easily see Kiku being a popular hot spot for students and any otaku out there. Not only were they able to achieve the whole Japanese vibe, they were also able to deliver quality Japanese food for a student budget. Kiku is becoming a modern Japanese empire in the streets of Espanya.
Have you tried Kiku? Share to us your experience in the comments section below!