Tagaytay has long been known as the nearest getaway place from the urban jungle that is Manila. Along with its magnificent view of Taal Volcano, it offers a variety of activities that suit people of all ages. One that I have always been fond of is, well, for a lack of a better term, “PIGGING OUT.” Believe it or not that’s my go-to activity over horseback riding in Picnic Grove, tiring myself from walking in the steep walkway in People’s Park, or throwing up from an extreme park ride.
The number of restaurants in Tagaytay have noticeably increased over the years. I remember it was so much easier before to decide where to eat ‘coz you only have a few to choose from. Now, the question “where should we eat?” has completely destroyed relationships of all sorts because there’s just too many to not be indecisive. So to save you from all the unnecessary back and forth arguments, here’s a personal recommendation which I am 101% sure you’ll keep coming back to.
Aozora or “Blue Sky” in Japanese is one of the newest restaurants and a must-visit in Tagaytay. And it certainly is, for all the right reasons:
1. INCREDIBLY AMAZING VIEW OF TAAL
What better way to make the most out of your Tagaytay trip but to go on a food adventure while overlooking an incredibly amazing view of Taal Volcano. Perched on the roof deck of Domicillo Boutique Hotel, Aozora Japanese Restaurant gives you a breathless panoramic view of Taal and its surroundings and greeneries which need no filter. What’s cool is the effortless transformation into a romantic setting during sunset! Could be a potential wedding proposal venue for couple or if you’re single, you could just go with posting that breathtaking sunset on social media with a trademark inspirational quote.
2. COOL AND COZY INTERIOR
I remembered back in college, bringing a jacket is a must whenever we go on spontaneous trips to Tagaytay. Aside from “japorms,” wearing one would actually help us from the cold weather. Since Aozora is on the roof deck, it gives natural air conditioning inside even during lunch time. The restaurant has a cozy, simple yet modern Japanese ambiance designed by Budji Layug. It has cement-washed walls decorated with paintings and Japanese lanterns thatcompliment the wooden furnishings. Upon entering the restaurant, you’ll notice a sleek bar lined with interesting Japanese goodies from alcoholic beverages to sweet treats which definitely add character to it.
3. 100% AUTHENTIC JAPANESE FOOD
BASICALLY THE MAIN REASON WHY YOU SHOULD EAT IN AOZORA. Believe it or not, Aozora is the first ever AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT in Tagaytay. Aside from the fact that they import their ingredients straight from Japan, the food is also personally prepared by a Japanese chef, Chef Seiji Kamijo Kamura. I have tried some of their dishes in a food blogging event (thanks to Aldous as usual) and here’s my verdict:
MISO TOFU SOUP (P80)
A good starter while waiting for the main course. It is very tasty and I love how it prepares my taste buds from a real Japanese dining action.
It may look like your ordinary dumpling but this one is stuffed with the meatiest and tastiest pork that can easily fill you up.
DRAGON MAKI (P350)
It wasn’t called “dragon” for nothing. This sushi roll is made of big ebi tempura topped with mayo, tobiko, and seaweed. I was almost full when I tried it but I did condition myself a day before and used a specific pacing technique (which I would rather not disclose ha ha). It does not only look good, but it also tastes so good!
AOZORA SALAD (P290)
Did you know that not all salads are created equal? Well at least in the case of this one. Unlike the usual Japanese salad, Aozorasalad features the crunchy and crispy kani strips which takes you to a different level of salad-appreciation. This is definitely one of my favorites!
If there’s one dish you shouldn’t miss, this is THE ONE. It’s the only soup-based selection I order whenever I eat at any Japanese restaurants and I’m glad that Aozora’s sukiyaki did not disappoint. It has the right balance of sweetness and brine,brought out by quality ingredients. It’s enough to make you forget all your frustrations in life (well at least that’s what this dish did to me ha ha). I highly recommend this and let it speak for itself.
SALMON SASHIMI (P290 / 6pcs)
I am a great sashimi lover and this has got to be one of the best! The salmon (from Japan) was so fresh and it literally melts in the mouth!
AOZORA ICED TEA (P120)
The bistro’s signature tea made of cucumber, mint, lemongrass, and pandan leaves! It may taste a bit strange at first ‘coz I know we Filipinos are used to that sweet usual iced tea taste, but this one’s truly refreshing!
FRESH FRUIT SHAKES (P130)
Everything is 100% fresh fruit! No powder or artificial flavor added.
EBI TEMPURA (P270)
Shrimp straight from Japan! I knew right at first bite ‘coz it tastes really flavorful and it’s quite big too! I didn’t eat too much of this though, since I have allergies. It sucks, I know. Don’t rub it in
CHICKEN TONKATSU (P290)
I just wished they partnered it with cabbage salad instead. Nonetheless, the chicken is really tender and tasty!
CHICKEN TERIYAKI DON (P290)
Being a big fan of saucy food, I definitely gave in to this teriyaki. It has the right sweet blend of sauce and soft and tender chicken.
AOZORA RAMEN WITH BULALO SOUP BASE (P320)
People immediately think of Tagaytay whenever they crave for bulalo that’s why Aozora decided to incorporate this famous Filipino soup to their own ramen recipe (such a brilliant idea, right?). I’m telling you..YOU MUST TRY THIS ONE! Especially if you want something to warm you up when the cold air gently freezes your entire existence.
TEMPURA ICE CREAM (P180)
Of course, we save the best for last! God knows how much I’ve been struggling to stay away from sweets but gosh, I AIN’T SAYING NO TO THIS ONE! Who could say no to a fried vanilla ice cream topped with red beans and chocolate syrup? It is one of the unique desserts I’ve tried and I’ll surely come back for more of this coz it was just soo good! Gone in 3 seconds…or less.
4. ENTERTAINING AND FRIENDLY STAFF
Aside from the food, the service of the staff matters to me. I am a generally happy person and I Iove to surround myself with happy people. It would really bring out the ‘dragon’ in me if I encounter snob and rude staff during my food adventures. Fortunately in the case of Aozora, the staff are warm and friendly. They would put on their happy faces even if they have a hard time moving while wearing a traditional Japanese costume haha (and by that I mean they could not dance Dessert by Dawin in full performance level)! But seriously though, they were really nice and accommodating which creates and promotes a lighter and happier ambiance.
5. INSTAGRAM-WORTHY PHOTOS
You know how we, Filipinos, are addicted to social media that’s why we always look for something “instagrammable” whenever we visit places. Well, Aozora will definitely satisfy your artsy sides not only from the food presentation but also with the sceneries. Any photo taken in the bistro would look and feel “nakaluwag luwag sa buhay” (no joke). But I swear, everything is just picture perfect that you barely need any filters at all.
I guess there would be no excuse for you to not try Aozora on your next visit to Tagaytay. So don’t forget to include this in your itinerary coz I promise you, it’s worth the visit!
Aozora Japanese Café + Bistro
KM Gen. E. 58 Aguinaldo Highway,
Tagaytay City, Tagaytay City
For reservations: 0906 350 1704