Kessaku: A Japanese Fusion Restaurant in Alabang

Ground Floor , Commercenter Building , Filinvest Avenue, Alabang 1781, Muntinlupa City- Philippines
restaurant facade
Kessaku in Nippongo means  ” Creating a Masterpiece,” according to Ms. Yums Sahgabao, one of the managing proprietors .  The restaurant has a sister  restaurant of Jozu Kin located in Burgos Circle and  Yumi Japanese Restaurant  in Promenade area, Greenhills, San Juan City- But Kessaku menu are different and are specially made to suit the Filipino palate and the international community which lives nearby.
      ground floor area
The ground floor can accommodate around 50 people while the second floor can accommodate  25 to 30 people at any given time. The restaurant opened its door to the public last September 2013 .
spacious ground floor viewed from second floor
The restaurant is located along Filinvest Avenue and a short distance from Acacia Hotel , South Supermarket Mall or Filinvest Mall
stylish and simple table and chairs
I admire the simple and stylish interior of the restaurant . ( modern minimalist style)
four season shake
One must try their four season shake , They use all natural ingredients and one can taste the real pineapple tidbits and cherry toppings . Not too sweet and the flavor blends really very well.
grape shake
This is another one in the bucket list ! I think it is about the freshness of the seedless grapes ( not too sweet )
green mango shake and dalandan shake
amuse-bouche or complimentary light snacks
Amuse -bouche is served in zhōngshì tāngchí  or Chinese -style soup spoon elegantly rolled crab-stick ( kani ) with kewpie or Japanese mayonnaise topped with chopped spring rolls  . This is good light snack to clean the palate while waiting for the dishes .
salmon sashimi
 This particular sashimi is made with superior grade Norwegian salmon .  The restaurant’s executive chef would inspect all the salmon during the delivery and they would choose the top most quality ( freshness and high grade salmon)  Additional garnish includes freshly picked lettuce , bean sprouts , finely grated carrots with wasabi paste and lemon .  To fully enjoy the quality of the sashimi, you need only to dip the tip and not drown it with the sauce.
Salmon Sashimi – Small ( Php 125)  Large (P265).
Usi Ebi or Sunburst Salad
 Sunburst Salad is an assortment of vegetables -lettuce, cabbage , carrot with two kinds of grapes , strawberry , sliced apple , bits of mandarin oranges,   tiger prawns tossed with salad dressing and bits of sesame seeds.
This is good for 2 to 3 people sharing
California maki topped with flying fish roe and grated pepper
California maki taste very different from the other more traditional maki that i have tasted in other Japanese restaurants. The kani , sweetness of Japanese mayonnaise, lettuce , mangoes , sliced red pepper strips, black flying fish roe adds to the overall flavor of the California maki ala Kessaku . Based on the ingredients , you can see the fusion of other ingredients which make it among the top sellers.

Unagi with Foie Gras
Foie Gras is from fattened duck or goose liver , eel and Japanese sticky rice rolled with nori strips (seaweed wrapper)  topped with sesame seeds and with wasabi paste
The Foie Gras really melts on your mouth and the eel taste crunchy .  The soft texture and mixing of the two really compliments each other .   Another MUST recommended dish , a visit to the restaurant is not complete without ordering this dish. You can share this with 2 to 3 people Php 350

Spider rolls

Spider Rolls is made from soft- shell crabs ( a culinary term for crabs that had recently molted their exoskeleton ). This means that almost the entire crab can be eaten, rather than having to shell the animal to reach the meat. The crab is finely chop into bite size bits fried with minimal batter or coating , wrapped on a sticky Japanese rice with special sauce and nori sheet and additional lettuce leaves with bean sprouts and  pepper strips as topping

Maguro tempura maki

Tiger Roll  is a mixture of ebi tempura , fresh tuna, sticky rice , creme cheese, avocado , dazzled with creme cheese , bean sprouts , sesame seeds and lemon

This tempura dish is a combination of sweet, sour and creamy , perfect for those who like creme cheese . The creme cheese does not overpower the tempura and you can still taste the fresh ingredients !

Symphony

Symphony it is a layers of  fried sushi rice, layers of spicy tuna, spicy salmon and crab-stick ( kani) with Japanese mayonnaise , topped with red and black  fish egg roe with Katsuobushi shavings and spring onion leaves an effortless medley of spicy , sweetness and savory.

It is meant to be shared with 2 to 3 people so it is okey not to cut them like cake , it can be quite messy but it is like mixing all the desired flavors . Php 380

Sukiyaki
Sukiyaki  is a hot pot  dish,  It has a sweet and salty flavor a little bit like teriyaki sauce , Japanese wine which add sweetness , but with tender angus beef and vegetable in the mix like carrots, cabbage , spring onion , It is a perfect dinner for family or great food to enjoy with guests.
 
Chicken Yakitori
  Chicken Yakitori Barbecue marinated with special sauce topped with finely chopped spring onion leaves with side garnish of fried thin noodles, red and green cabbage , carrots thinly sliced.
The chicken is tender and it almost melts in your mouth . It is well marinated ( special sauce)  and ideal for 2 to 3 people sharing. Don’t forget the side garnish , They are perfect combination ! This is also a MUST for barbecue and chicken lovers !!!!!
Shishamo
Shishamo is a Japanese smelt fish with roe ( eggs ) fried  with lemon , fried noodles and finely chopped vegetables as garnish or side dish .
The dish can be compared with our own tinapa –  but minus the heavier smoky taste and can be shared with 2 to 3 people.Php 295
 Angus Prime Cha han
Angus Prime Cha- Han is the Japanese version of fried rice , but they use the  sticky rice , less soy sauce ,  angus beef , vegetables and sprinkled with chopped spring onion .
This is a complete meal or can be shared with 2 people .
Ebi Tempura
 Tiger Prawn Tempura  is coated with  simple batter then deep fried in hot oil  .  It is best dipped with simple lemon and rock salt which brings out the taste. the dish also comes with special tempura sauce.
Shared with 3 to 4 people. It comes in small, medium and large order .
Soft Shell Crab Tempura
Soft Shell Crab Tempura is coated with simple batter then deep fried to perfection .
When you eat this tempura, you can eat the entire shell without any fear  of indigestion , The crab carapace is soft and similar with fried talangka . Can be shared with 2 to 3 people. Perfect with its own tempura sauce or simple lemon and rock salt mixture will bring out the taste.
Kaikage Teppan
Kaikage Teppan or Fried Oyster in Batter  with fried noodles and thinly sliced vegetables perfectly compliment each other . I remember its Chinese version,  the Oyster cake which we always love to eat in Binondo , The Japanese version is different since they are individually coated with batter and deep fried with special sauce topped with chopped spring onion . Ideal for 2 to 3 people.
Mixed Kamameshi
Mixed Kamameshi is a traditional rice dish cooked in an iron pot.   which includes thin strips of carrots and sweet potato, boiled shrimp,  mushroom , beans , pork and beef that’s mixed with rice flavored with soy sauce. Guests can do the mixing or ask the server to do it.  (P450), Ideal for 2 to 3 people.
from the facebook page of Kessaku
Celebrity spotted- Ms. Jodi Santa Maria , Mr. Jolo Revilla  , Mr. Aga Muhlach and Charlene Gonzales ,  Ms. Nikki Valdez , Ms. Ellen Adarna were among the celebrities that are spotted eating at this restaurant .  This is aside from the expats and foodies who want a different taste.
food and lifestyle bloggers
* Note : I must ” Thank” Ms. Kathy Kenny Ngo – food connoisseur for organizing this food tour and to the owners of Kessaku for the warm hospitality to the group ” Maraming Salamat Po” 
I must give Kessaku a rating of 9.25 out of 10 for the ambiance, food , presentation and service !
vicinity map
How to Get There:
1.) Metropolis Star Mall  – 1 ride Baclaran, Alabang jeep then go down to Caltex station cross the intersection ( Alabang-Zapote Road ) then a short walk toward Acacia Hotel
2.) Alabang Terminal Station – Jeep going to Alabang Filinvest , then go down to Caltex station cross the intersection ( Alabang-Zapote Road )  then a short walk towards Acacia Hotel
  3.) Baclaran , Sucat – 1 ride going to Filinvest Alabang then go down to  Filinvest Avenue  then a short walk towards Acacia Hotel.
Private Cars – Take the Filinvest Exit of South Luzon Expressway  then look for Commerce Avenue. For commuters, the best way is to use the Chef’s Avenue exit of Festival Super mall (until 9pm) then the straight pathway will lead you to Commerce Avenue. It is around about 500 to 600 meters from the mall.
Address : Kessaku Commercenter Alabang
Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa City-Philippines
Call 403-3445

Cymbidium finlaysonianum blooming in our backyard

Cymbidium finlaysonianum blooming

This orchid is one of the most common orchid species that i have encountered in the Philippines ( both cultivated and wild)  after Dendrobium crumenatum ( dove orchid ),  Dendrobium anosmum ( sanggumay ) and Spathoglottis plicata ( grass orchid ) .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown on a Christmas palm  ( the flowers is darker but not in full form )

BIG Event or Viewing Party

I have seen some blooming -sized orchid planted in pots at the backyard of my aunt when i was in my kindergarten days . I think she bought some of her orchids from  ambulant vendors way back in the late 1980’s and it was some sort of a ” BIG Event” in her house whenever these orchids were in bloom. Her orchid plants were place near the patio area and it was a conversational piece . She would invite friends and relatives just to admire the rare blooms. This would rival another blooming plant , Epiphyllum oxypetalum (Queen of the Night , Queen for a Night, Dutchman Pipe ) whenever the plants were in bloom.

Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphyllum_oxypetalum

They would held a small gathering at around 10:00PM and their viewing parties would last until past 12:00AM which would highlight the blooming .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum grown on a tree near Orchid Pavilion in Paradizoo

 This time,  the viewing party is different ,  They would view this orchid species blooming during the early part of the day around past 6:00am to 7:00am . Unlike the Epiphyllum oxypetalum ,  I was fascinated by the way they treat those blooming plants .   Years had passed , I can tell that the beauty of the plants no matter how ordinary they may be should be appreciated .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum near Orchid Pavilion -Paradizoo farm in Cavite

We acquired our first Cymbidium finlaysonianum from an orchid vendor selling her last few remaining plants at a discounted price. Soon we were given orchids by our neighbor , who grew tired of growing them.  According to her, it is taking much of the space at her backyard and thus gave some of them to those who were interested .  All of my aunt’s orchids eventually died -out in the late 1990’s due to prolonged drought and neglect .

Cymbidium finlaysonianum attached to a Christmas palm Adonidia merrillii

Habitat and Range

This orchid species can be found from India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia , Laos , Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore , Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Sumatra and the Philippines in evergreen broad-leaf and in semi-deciduous and deciduous dry lowland forests at elevations from sea-level to 1,300 meters as a large sized hot to warm growing epiphyte with ellipsoid, laterally compressed pseudo-bulbs carrying ligulate, thick, coriaceous, oblique to unequally bilobed apically leaves that blooms in during March , April , May and early June on a 2′ 5″ [72 cm] long, basal, racemose scape that can be arched or pendant with up to 26, fragrant flowers that have brown basal sheaths.

close-up view of the flowers

The species was named after a famous English  orchid collector Mr. George Finlayson (1790 – 1823) .

Watering and Fertilization:

I normally mount Cymbidium finlaysonianum on the trunk of palms , large branches or on dead kakawate driftwood. If the orchid is well-established, We fertilize them with 20 N-20 P-20K  ( diluted into 1/4 of the recommended dosage)  during its growing season , two to three times a week . plus micro nutrients. Alternatively flushing them with ordinary tap water to flush down the accumulated salts or mineral deposits left by the fertilizers.

developing inflorescence

There is no rule on watering and fertilization, You can water them once a day or twice depending on the weather, Some may opt watering them every other day . Growers must put some fungicide before the the onset of rains ( monsoon season ) . Rains , especially southwest monsoon can take its toll on the orchids. When in doubt, you may not water your orchid ( for this species) even for several days ! Rule of Thumb  is “ WEAKLY WEEKLY “. The more frequent you fertilize, the lesser the dosage or the more you dilute the consistency of the fertilizer . ( some may opt to put some slow release fertilizer ).

This plant had two inflorescence with 18 and 16 flowers widely- spaced pale- yellow form

Our orchid blooms twice a year, during the height of the summer season ( March, April and May )  and another during the later part of the monsoon season ( October, November or December ) climatic stress will eventually make these wonderful orchids in bloom. A short dry period is necessary to induce them to bloom. We got around half a dozen specimen- sized of this orchid species in our garden, There used to be more than that.  We would also water them with rice washing ( hugas bigas)  and fish emulsion ( hugas isda ) adding more essential nutrients the more organic way.  What i am sharing is a time tested one, We are growing these orchid species for more than 20 years ! Sometimes, These orchid species is quite temperamental! I notice that our plants will never bloom for several years then all of a sudden , All of our orchids will start blooming . I also notice that the dried flowers and fruits of the Manila Palm/ Bunga de China also serves as a good compost for this orchid.

another Cymbidium finlaysonianum clump with ferns

Etho-Botanical and Economic Importance:

Cymbidium orchids and its hybrids were long sought after orchid  in the world. The Chinese were cultivating them long before Jesus Christ was born . Flower arranger and florist would use their large flowers for several occasions.

Some believe that growing them gives them good luck ( depending on the person or ethic group ) One ethnic group in the Philippines uses the leaves of the Cymbidium finlaysonianum as rope or accessories.

 In Borneo,  people keep plants of this species in their houses to ward off evil spirits. Also sprinkling chewed roots of this species over an elephant is thought to cure it.

Landscapers would also use the beautiful orchids to cling on old trees and palms in big subdivisions , farm , resorts and local parks.

I am also wondering on the other beliefs and other growing techniques ?

Links: http://www.gbif.org/species/120764883

http://www.orchidspecies.com/cymfinlatsoniana.htm

References:

The Orchids of the Philippines , Jim Cootes 2001

Orchid of Malaysia and Singapore ,Gunnar Seidenfaden, Jeffrey J. Wood, Richard Eric Holttum ,  Olsen and Olsen 1992

Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984; Orchidiana Philipiniana Vol 1 Valmayor 1984