Experience private dining the Japanese way

From the people that brought ramen excellence and the ultimate in traditional Japanese dining to Manila, Omotenashi by Kazunori takes the same dedication to hospitality to your homes.

The name, once you have googled what it means, fully describes what you can expect from the newly launched catering arm of traditional Japanese restaurant Kazunori.

Omotenashi is an expression in Japanese culture that is deeply rooted in hospitality, which roughly means “to wholeheartedly look after guests.” It is the kind of service that expects nothing in return, an authentic desire to make others happy.

This is the kind of dedicated service we have all come to expect from Nippon Hasha, the same group that has brought us unique and authentic experiences from their brands such as Ramen Yushoken, Mendokoro Ramenba, Ramen Marudori, and of course, their flagship Kazunori Japanese Restaurant.

Now celebrating their 10th anniversary, the group applies the same attention to detail to their private dining experience, Omotenashi by Kazunori.

“I view Japanese cuisine as an art form that emphasizes simplicity and balance,” states chef Kuramochi Kazunori, the culinary visionary behind Kazunori. Omotenashi takes the world-class hospitality from their home restaurant, Kazunori, to the venue of their clients’ choosing, guaranteeing a one-of-a-kind experience.

Chef Kuramochi Kazunori is the culinary visionary behind Kazunori.

“This is where we can bring our expertise in food and service beyond the four walls of our restaurant, and allow the customer to enjoy what we do, without even leaving their own homes,” shares Ryan K. Cruz, founder and CEO of Kazunori.

This approach aligns with the restaurant’s desire for clients to focus their energy on entertaining and creating a personalized experience for their companions, in a location most convenient for them.

The process begins with chef Kazunori gathering information from their clients regarding their preferences and food allergies, among other things. Together with the rest of the team, they begin to create a menu based on the information gathered as well as the ingredients that are freshly available and in season. Same as what their clients expect from the restaurant, the private dining experience utilizes only the finest produce, many of which are imported from Japan.

Now celebrating their 10th anniversary, Nippon Hasha applies the same attention to detail to their private dining experience, Omotenashi by Kazunori.

Omotenashi has three packages clients can choose from—a plated full-service option ideal for 10-20 persons; a bespoke buffet set-up for more casual events; and the omakase where the flow of the meal is left in the highly capable hands of chef Kazunori.

In an omakase, the menu is typically a surprise as it depends on what the chef brings back from the market. However, based on what chef Kazunori and his team know about their Filipino clients, they prefer to have an idea of what they will be served along with their guests. Not a bad idea, especially if they will be pairing their dishes with wine and sake, or both.

To give an idea of what the result of that would feel like, a select few were invited to partake in an omakase dinner in Kazunori’s private room, but fashioned after the Omotenashi experience.

The ten-course meal was composed of the freshest bounty from the land and sea flown in from Japan. The appetizer trio prepared us for the sweet luxury that is about to come, starting with plump Hokkaido oyster, monkfish liver that is rightfully dubbed the “foie gras of the sea,” and gizzard shad. These are followed by more treasures from Hokkaido like the sweet flesh of their stone crabs topped with creamy sea urchin.

Starter trio

The seafood feast continues with seared surf clam sashimi, barely cooked to showcase its natural texture enhanced only by a faint smokiness. Rockfish, toxic when not handled properly, is served with a clear broth full of umami and delicate fish flavors. Those looking for crunch will be satisfied with the juicy fillet of flounder and shisito peppers battered and fried into tempura.

Tempura set

Nothing says “luxury” quite like wagyu, and chef Kazunori showcases the premium beef from the Ibaraki prefecture in a sukiyaki, luxuriating in sweet broth. It is then dipped in rich, raw egg yolk and consumed with a bite from the sticky rice ball. That really is all the rice you need, considering that the savory dishes will be finished off with kamameshi (a seafood rice pot) and an aromatic kuma nabe with fish stock, an assortment of vegetables and mushrooms, and yuzu chicken balls.

The most memorable part of the meal, in my opinion, is having chef Kazunori prepare our sushi table side. He offered three kinds of fish in varying levels of fattiness and with different preparations. The otoro aburi is seared with a wooden block which evenly distributes heat ensuring a quick and uniform cook. Anago, a kind of saltwater eel, is rich and flavorful, offering a different experience from the usual unagi.

To close a decadent meal, the good chef demonstrates balance and intuitiveness by serving a palate-cleansing matcha mont blanc. All dishes were accompanied by sake (as well as a Japanese wine made from an indigenous grape which was very similar to an Alsatian pinot gris) carefully selected to pair well with each dish, choosing from locally available bottles.

Mont Blanc

While there will surely be challenges in trying to replicate the Kazunori experience in a client’s home, Cruz assures that they are dedicated to making that meal above and beyond what is expected. What Omotenashi offers, more than the excellent food and hospitality, is the luxury of peace and privacy.

“It’s especially beneficial for those who are working on tight schedules and don’t want to bother with the stress and wasted time of Manila traffic just to go out for a great meal, as we bring everything to you,” Cruz explains.

“But more importantly, the possibility of having an incredible experience in the chosen place and of the guest, where privacy is of the utmost importance, away from any prying eyes or ears.”

The new lifestyle.