Senju Manila

Senju, Edsa Shangri-La, Manila: Japanese, not cheese

Here the menu talks of other, unfamiliar produce, to be applied externally, rather than internally.

  26.08.15    Philippines

Senju review date: August 24, 2015

A birthday weekend away, my beloved having booked a decadent evening at the Cheese Bar. My king of fromages, 36 month Comté, would be up first, along with a glass of Barolo. Next the Brillat-Savarin, needing a spoon more than a knife, alongside a thick, bold Chateauneuf du Pape.


A match made in heaven, of grape and dairy in perfect harmony – or so I thought. I had, in fact, been booked in at the Chi Spa. There’s a pretty significant difference. No aged, curdled and bacteria-laden milk. Certainly no Pinot Noir.

Here the menu talks of other, unfamiliar produce, to be applied externally, rather than internally. Ginger tea is the drink of choice. The holistic yin to the dairy yang. Time melts away at the hands of two therapists in the couples treatment room, ensuring that our chi is finely balanced, if not our cheese.

CHI The Spa Couples Treatment RoomFrom there on to dinner, stumbling in a blissed-out haze. As luck would have it at Senju, Japanese fine dining in a suitably zen environment to match our moods. The room is all light woods and laughter, busy on a Monday evening, always a good sign.

Senju ManilaFirst aburi uni, in other words seared sea urchin.  Take one of the world’s finest examples of produce and grill with special miso sauce. Very simple, utterly sensational.

Senju ManilaNext is Suimono –  A traditional soup that translates sweetly asFood you can sip‘. Sip away I do on the delicate, clear broth, flavoured with scallop, mushroom, fish ball and engawa white fish.

Senju ManilaFrom ocean to paddock with the USDA Beef Hoba Yaki, a technique where meat is grilled with miso on a Hoba leaf.  The tealight underneath slowly cooks the beef through the leaf, imparting beautiful, delicate flavours along the way.

Senju ManilaNext the awamochi. This is a rice cake with history, having been popularized during the Edo dynasty from 1603 onwards. There was, it seems, even a popular dance in which the awa mochi vendors take turns pounding rice cakes. You live and learn:

k3888No pounding dances here, just glutinous, sticky rice balls lifted by sharp grain mustard.

DSC_0689More rice in the final iteration of five kinds of aburi – or roasted – sushi. Beautifully prepared and expertly finished, it delivered some of the finest I’ve had outside Japan.  Tuna belly, engawa, salmon, hamachi and scallop:

Senju Manila

Senju ManilaMy birthday evening finished with green tea mochi ice cream and coffee jelly, the perfect end to a first class dinner. The cheese can wait.

Senju Manila

Edsa Shangri-La, 1 Garden Way, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City, 1650, Philippines Tel: +63 2 633 8888

Chi Spa –

Senju –