Japanese flavors in Boracay beaches

by: Marge C. Enriquez, Philippine Daily Inquirer

STEAMED from a clay pot, a clear broth with bits of chicken, shrimps, mushrooms, boiled eel, spinach, and leeks called chawanmushi is served atop crushed ice. Red snapper is exquisitely styled like a crown on a Japanese plate. Plated on a bed of tossed greens, the salmon is accompanied by hot jalapeño dressing.

Traditional Japanese cooking is an uncluttered art. But trust the Pinoy to infuse his penchant for embellishment, however tame, while maintaining reverence to the Japanese sensibility of harmony and embracing nature. That is the style of Hama, the Japanese restaurant in Boracay concocted by scion Juan Elizalde, restaurateur Paolo Elizalde and chef Robbie Goco. Located at the center of D?Mall, just below Tides Hotel, Hama has been attracting a large tourist market.

Hama, which means "seashore" in Nippongo, has been drawing raves from patrons for its modern interpretation of the cuisine. Manning the kitchen is executive chef Jimmy Cuenca, who has worked in Japan for 13 years and at the executive lounge of Nippon Steel in Butuan City. He started out in the pantry of the original Jollibee restaurant in Cubao in 1976 and has honed his skills in Continental, Chinese, and Filipino restaurants.

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