Izakaya Geronimo is a bold concept that raises the bar in Japanese dining

This izakaya combines people‘s favorites in one massive space—a sake bar, ramen, sushi and sashimi, modern cocktails and inventive dishes.

As if jumping from a great height, these restaurateurs yelled “Geronimooo!” and stepped off into a great culinary adventure. And as the best izakayas go, this new Japanese restaurant stays true to the meaning of the word (stay-drink-place), and offers a cozy ambience, attentive service, fine interiors, craft cocktails and great plates of Japanese food.

The ramen bar and open kitchen (above), and lounge area (below)

“It was like jumping off a plane!” says Lui Clavano, who owns Izakaya Geronimo in BGC with his brothers LA and Mico, and partners Yoji Kitayama and Carlo Alvarez.

Everything about Japan fascinates the Clavano brothers, with Lui telling us of his family’s trips to Tokyo and being floored by the country’s culture—from the bushido code of honor to hanami symbolizing the transient nature of beauty and, above all, omotenashi or the Japanese spirit of hospitality that goes above and beyond, and anticipates the guests’ needs.

A place for foodies who really, really love Japanese food

Crispy Shirauo and Shrimp Popcorn at Izakaya Geronimo

It’s not a stretch to say that, business wise, Izakaya Geronimo was a jump into the (slightly) unknown. The concept was born during the pandemic and propelled only by the owners’ love affair with Japanese cuisine.

While they have experience in this area with their successful and highly rated Wagyu Studio, the izakaya’s space on the ground floor of Asian Century Center in BGC is massive—almost 500 square meters—that they could actually put several concepts inside and comfortably accommodate 120 people.

Toro, salmon and uni sashimi

But did they want to? Hell, yeah! Think of several restaurants in one that can offer a different atmosphere each time you turn a corner. Izakaya Geronimo has a dedicated sake bar for premium sake and Japanese highballs; a ramen bar where you can watch the chefs making tasty and comforting noodle soup bowls and small plates; a sushi bar that discerning sashimi and sushi lovers can hang out at; a laid-back bar and lounge offering Japanese-inspired cocktails.

The interiors are chic and contemporary with traditional wooden chairs at the ramen and sushi bar, club-like the back (with DJ music after dinner hours), and rounded booths and chairs for families and groups dining together.  

What to order

Gochujang lamb from New Zealand

The menu by head chef Erik Idos, formerly executive chef at Nobu in Hotel Intercontinental Hong Kong, is inventive and blends traditional and global flavors. His time under chef and restaurateur Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa gave him a great foundation in Japanese cuisine and the confidence to boldly step beyond it.

If you’re going for the first time, bring friends with you so you can taste all their signature dishes, which chef Erik rolled out during a recent tasting dinner.

Brown butter lobster

Start with the Toro Wasabi Salsa, a high-grade fatty tuna drizzled in a yuzu miso sauce, topped with a dollop of wasabi and microgreens for a rich umami flavor and a zesty citrus punch. Next up is Pork Katsudon: thick, high-grade and succulent pork cuts that are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The chef’s twist on this izakaya classic comes from infusing the egg omelet with dashi soy sauce that delivers a unique flavor profile.

The fillet o fish sandwich is my favorite—believe me, I was surprised by that too!—for its tenderness and slight coating of (what might be) tempura batter. It comes with takana or a type of pickled and fermented mustard leaf; and mentaiko, a traditional Japanese delicacy made from spicy marinated pollock or cod roe typically cured with a mixture of salt and other seasonings for a flavorful and slightly spicy flavor.

Fillet o fish

The Toro Uni Caviar Temaki is a cone-shaped, hand-rolled piece of edible art made from fatty tuna (rich, buttery texture and intense flavor), Kaluga Queen caviar and fresh uni flown in from Japan that make every bite an indulgent and harmonious combination of tastes.

The juicy shrimp popcorn fried in a panko batter is crispy and tossed with yuzu mayonnaise to strike a perfect balance between subtle creaminess and spicy kick.

If you’re going to Izakaya Geronimo for the first time, bring friends so you can taste all their signature cocktails and dishes.

For dessert, the sweet potato brulée gives you the satisfaction of a familiar French dessert and a new taste and texture all at once. Don’t forget to pause after breaking the caramelized sugar topping with the back of your spoon—it’s one of the few pleasures in life that comes before the actual taste.

Izakaya Geronimo is located on the ground floor of Asian Century Center, 3rd Avenue corner 27th Street, BGC. Call +639620974969, email or visit their website.

Editor in chief

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