Roll up your sleeves, here come Chotto Matte and Izakaya Sensu.

Let's have a show of hands—who doesn't like Japanese food? I see no arms shoot up, as expected. Now, who doesn't love to drink? Again, no movement and, in fact, total silence. Final question: who lives to devour Japanese cuisine and engorge on fine Japanese liquors and cocktails? Finally, pandemonium!

If you can relate to the above 3 things, you're going to love the new dining duo at Netpark BGC. Chotto Matte Philippines and Izakaya Sensu have opened its doors to the public, complete with the freshest and most delicious sushi and sashimi, Japanese "tapas", and an arsenal of exquisite drinks that would turn the most stressed-out working man into the happiest one. The newest concept of the Raintree Group of Restaurants, the Japanese bar and izakaya have partnered with Tokyo's Piglet to bring the discerning Manila foodie a new innovative concept that stemmed from a simple idea: where to relax with high-grade food and drinks after work?

We were one of the first few lucky humans to check out Chotto Matte and Izakaya Sensu before it opened last July 12, and I must say that I was incredibly impressed with the two establishments. Both offer a relaxing atmosphere perfect for unwinding after a long day of work (and an even longer time spent in traffic). Subdued lighting, a high ceiling, unadorned pieces, and wooden furniture dominate both spaces—a shower of gold and black. It was, in one word, mesmerizing.

The set-up is pretty much like Stella and Rocketroom in Bonifacio High Street Central—one specializes in food while the other whips out the libations. Each one has a distinct character, but together, they are flawless and cohesive. And just like any other Raintree-managed restaurant, there’s the unmistakable brand of service and the unparalleled quality of offerings, thanks of course, to highly trained chefs, servers, and barmen.

Izakaya Sensu is a foodie haven with its extensive selection of Japanese dishes offered tapas-style; there’s an assortment of sushi, rolls, sashimi, salads, fried bites, and seafood plates, all perfect with some Sapporo or a Suntory Kakubin Highball. Chotto Matte, on the other hand, will spellbind the exhausted ones not just with its relaxing ambience but also its superb lineup of handcrafted cocktails and artisanal sake concoctions.

The signature Sensu Roll (PhP575) is a beautiful platter of rolled sushi with two variants: one with a tempura asparagus and spicy mayonnaise topped with fresh tuna, green chili, and delicious unagi sauce; and another with crabmeat, yuzu skin, and cucumber inside, crowned with mango, flying fish roe, and unagi sauce. I loved the former for the intriguing play of textures and flavors—and of course, that subtle kick I find myself always looking for in rolls. If you like something sweetish and oh-so-fresh, you will love the latter.

Izakaya Sensu addresses the Japanese food lover’s craving for authentic sushi with its wide selection. From tuna, Norwegian salmon, Lapu-Lapu, and mackerel to eel, hamachi, wagyu, and the much-coveted toro, the chefs at the restaurant can whip you up something you’re particularly in the mood for. If you like sashimi and would prefer being surprised with the chef’s own choices, get the Sensu Omakase Special (PhP2,995) and relish an impeccably-plated exhibition of 11 kinds of the freshest sashimi—some using snapper, scallops, and octopus.

Their collection of yakitori is straightforward yet well-executed. There’s my favorite—the bacon-wrapped asparagus, delicately grilled—as well as chicken skin, enoki mushrooms, quail eggs, and cherry tomatoes. All perfect with a beer or two. Small bites such as the Sensu Karaage (sesame-coated fried chicken), Sichimi Age (fried chicken hearts and gizzard with Japanese 7-spice), Sensu Tamago, and Soba also offer a slow and laid-back meal over casual chatter and endless bouts of drinks meant to refresh anyone’s tired mind and muscles.

If you’re like me who likes to drink while eating, it’s perfectly okay to sit at Izakaya and order cocktails from Chotto Matte’s menu. I highly recommend the Suntory Kakubin Highball (PhP250), a concoction of blended whisky, soda water and fresh lemon that’s good enough on its own and perfect also with fish or fried dishes. Anything with Japanese whisky in it is a must-try in my book.

The bar makes its own small-batch sake, and you can order some by the glass (PhP37), carafe (PhP750), or bottle (PhP7,000/1.8L). They also mix it with fruits to come up with more approachable flavors—I particularly like the tangerine variant. The Sakura Smile, however, is a crowd favorite with its refreshing elements: cherry-infused sake, cherry-infused vodka, lychee puree, and bitters.

So, if you work nearby and you are craving for some real Japanese food and well-crafted drinks, head over to Chotto Matte and Izakaya Sensu at Netpark BGC and treat yourself to a well-deserved break. Roll up your sleeves, undo your necktie, and leave your coat on your office chair and experience something close to a retreat right there within the city.

Congratulations to Raintree Restaurants for these two new amazing dining concepts!

Chotto Matte & Izakaya Sensu
G/F, Net Park, 28th Street corner 5th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Chotto Matte: Facebook | Instagram
Izakaya Sensu: Facebook | Instagram
Budget: PhP500 up

Special thanks to contributing photographer Vin Aranas for the awesome photos. Follow him on Instagram: @vin_aranas87.

All photos without the Pepe Samson watermark are owned by Vin Aranas and are exclusively shared here with permission.

What do you think of these sister restaurants? Do you love Japanese cuisine?

If you like my posts and would love regular updates on travel photos, food finds, restaurant reviews, dance articles, and drunken tales, follow Pepe Samson on Facebook!

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