A taste of Japan at Glorietta’s roof deck

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HALF of what used to be Glorietta 3’s mostly empty roof deck has been transformed into Japantown, bringing a mix of known and new restaurants, as well as a feel of Japan in its decor.

“Ayala Malls has always been committed to bringing new experiences to our customers. With the clamor for travel, we want people to experience Japanese culture without leaving the city. What better way to get a sense of place but through culinary tourism — having a taste of authentic and contemporary flavors that the destination offers,” said Sherlene Cruz, Ayala Malls Glorietta General Manager in an e-mail to BusinessWorld.

BusinessWorld was toured around Japantown at Glorietta 3’s fourth level (right beside another remodeling project, its K-Park) on Jan. 28. Ms. Cruz, speaking about these developments and future attractions in Ayala Malls, pointed out that “These unique and curated food precincts are already present in Ayala Malls Vertis and Ayala Malls Manila Bay, but both are indoors.”

While there were seven restaurants in the itinerary, we chose to spend time in the two restaurants where we had not yet dined — Mitsuyado Sei-Men and Musashi Maru.

The other restaurants are Ramen Nagi (a staple), Hakata Ton-ichi (which also serves ramen), Coco Ichibanya (specializing in Japanese-style curry), 102 Izakaya (small plates and grilled meats), and Shaburi and Kintan, serving Japanese steaks at a buffet comparable to the ones found in more posh hotels.

As for Mitsuyado Sei-men, a sensation when it first opened in Bel-air and other Makati districts outside the central business district, we had their Cheese Tsukemen, which are ramen noodles dipped into a broth, but this time, the noodles were coated in a cheese sauce. It was a strangely tangy combination that works, Meanwhile the scallop sashimi at Musashi Maru (where apparently Japanese nationals like to eat; which should say something about its quality) is a must-try.

Other attractions in Japantown include an LED screen that could be a focal point for performers and events (during our visit, there was a fair showing off Japanese crafts and costumes that one could rent and wear; as well as musicians and DJs).

The square also boasts of the Omniverse Museum which features pop culture memorabilia.

Asked if the open-air design was a result of post-pandemic planning, Ms. Cruz said, “The roof deck actually opened in 2019, before the pandemic.  The integration of outdoor and indoor has always been part of Ayala Malls DNA and this is another way of executing it with a specific ‘theme.’ The open-air concept became accessible and provided a respite for customers who would want to take a breather and relax amidst a busy mall setting.”

Japan Town is at Level 4, Glorietta 3, Ayala Center, Makati City. — Joseph L. Garcia