Banzai. A Japanese word that means “long live the king!” yet is directly translating to as “10,000 years (of life)!” but is best taken as an expression similar to “hurrah!” or “long life.” Although most popularly believed as referred to the Emperor of Japan (having rooted from the said word in China referring to theirs), banzai is a word often used by Japanese to incite intensity to a situation, often for good reason, as a derivative to its alternative use as a patriotic shout. Apply the same logic for a restaurant and you get Banzai: The Great Authentic Japanese Buffet by name.
Banzai Japanese Street Festival
Located in Mall of Asia, specifically at the By the Bay Leisure Park, Mall of Asia Complex, Banzai: The Great Authentic Japanese Buffet is easy to find since it has a huge sign. Written in English alphabets, its name is not something anyone in the country could not read. Having a unique sounding name, the restaurant attracts customers who may be new to the place.
Banzai Japanese Lanterns
Upon entering the restaurant, I was greeted by its friendly and accommodating staffs. As you enter, you would know that this is not your ordinary Japanese restaurant as felt by its authentic Japanese ambience, most notable for its Japanese lanterns with writings of Japanese texts, mixed with modern settings found in some restaurants. The place was quite dimmed to highlights those lanterns. As someone who may be new to the place, I find its interior designs a relatively new experience since most of the Japanese restaurants Ive been to are not this huge.
Banzai Mochi Balls
Ready to serve for its 500-seat total area, subdivided into four areas namely Dotonbori area, Castle area, Old Japan Area, Sumo arena, and Nautilus area, Banzai: The Great Authentic Japanese Buffet is massive enough to cater for a group of friends, families or even corporate events.
Banzai Tepanyaki Performers
Headed by three real Japanese chefs said to be experts in making Teppaniyaki, Sushi, and Ramen respectively, Banzai: The Great Authentic Japanese Buffet is not your run of the mill Japanese restaurant in the country. Each has their own section in the restaurant of which expertise was as a result of many years of working in their homeland, Japan.
Bread and Salad Bar
True to its name, Banzai Japanese Restaurant does indeed offer real Japanese food served by its Japanese chefs, with the inclusion of some local and foreign. Its authentic Japanese-prepared and Japanese-served foods is a clear reflection of the expression of banzai (long life!) to its diners for its many healthy dishes and us banzai-ing to them back for good tidings and appreciation to their business, albeit only in mind.
Chinese Cold Cuts
Tasting its foods has, indeed, been a banzai experience. Heading straight to its teppanyaki station, I dug in for its pork teppanyaki which tasted like bacon but with a Japanese twist. If you like seafood, this is also a perfect place for its seafood teppanyaki, which is equally delicious. However, if you do not mind the fats and oils, you can also dig in for some roasted pork belly which is just as filling. This section was headed by Chef Hiroshi Ishikawa of 20 years working experience from Japan. He is the most experienced chef among fellow Japanese chefs in the restaurant.
Although lesser experienced than Chef Ishikawa (and the other co-chef), Chef Norimasa Masuda’s 12 years of experience as a sushi chef from Japan makes him the head of the sushi counter for which you will find a variety of sushi, sashimi, and roll station which appeals to the Filipino palate. These foods are bite-size which makes them easy to eat and finish.
Grilled corn with miso, butter, and soy sauce
If you are into noodles, Chef Kiminori Iwabuchi’s gohan, noodles, and ramen section will cater for your appetite in noodles and soups with his 19 years of working experience both locally and abroad from Japan at his disposal. Specifically on the restaurant, there you will find buta ramen (shoyu or miso) and tan tan mien ramen. Either ramen tastes good, however, you should take note that the latter ramen is spicy.
Grilled pig ears
Not limited to the three stations mentioned, the restaurant, too, has other stations namely: Tempura and Tonkatsu Station, Yakitori and Grill Station, Noodles and Ramen Station, Hot Selections, Takoyaki, Kaniyaki, and Gohan Station, Street Food, Pizza Station, Roast Station, Sushi, Sashimi and Rolls Station, Teppanyaki Stations, Cold Soba Station, Dessert Station, Bread Station, Salad Station, Beverage Station, Carving Station and Trick Art Gallery. As far as drinks is concerned, there are plenty of choices at the Beverage station but my favorite would be their Red Iced tea and Hot Green tea.
Grilled pork intestines
One section also within the vicinity that stands out among other sections in the area is known as Yatai. Originally Japanese’s, it basically offers Japanese street foods whose wooden food cart resembles an actual yatai that is popular in Fukuoka, Japan. This is not your ordinary wooden food cart as this is decorated with graphic signage and is loaded with an array of goodies. However, this is only available during the Japanese Street Festival as far as I know.
Banzai’s yatai showcases Niku Buns, steamed buns with ground pork meat, sprinkled with sesame seeds; Bacon Kani, grilled kani stick wrapped in bacon; and Bacon Aspa, grilled asparagus wrapped in bacon.
Other yatai offerings include Squid Balls with Nori, deep fried Nori with squid balls; Kani Aunori Tempura, kani sticks with aunori leaves, deep-fried with tempura batter; Pork “Mimi” Yakiniku, grilled pig ears; and Mutso, grilled pork intestines.
Completing Banzai’s yatai spread are Tomorokoshi, grilled corn with miso, butter, and soy sauce; Dango Balls, sweet Japanese dumplings made with mochiko (rice flour); and Hokkaido ice cream, a mixture of Hokkaido milk with double cream.
Sea of Sushi
Weekend diners also get to savor Watame, Japanese cotton candy. The new yatai station builds on Banzai’s existing street food offerings, including Takoyaki, little balls containing pieces of octopus (tako), a popular street food originating in Osaka; and Okonomiyaki, the Japanese savory pancake.
What makes the overall experience extra special however is the restaurant’s Banzai Trick Art Gallery. Given a set of two choices of costume, you can either be a sumo wrestler or a samurai which when worn will lead you to the Sumo Arena area. From there, you can take pictures of yourself as you get pitted to an inanimate Sumo wrestler on the wall with a referee and audiences in the background that gives the impression that you are actually wrestling. For best experience, wear the sumo wrestler costume as it gives the right fit with the setting. Otherwise, you can move to different backgrounds such as the ninja dojo or one with the market setting wearing a samurai costume. I bet that one will looked good, too.
Squid Balls with Nori
To get the most experience with the restaurant, it is advised that you go during the month of October for its Japanese Street Festival. During the event, there is a daily dinner offering which gives you the actual Japanese street experience to the local buffet scene. Additional delicacies often sold at mobile food stalls (yatai in Japan) seen in Japan’s matsuris or festivals are added to the buffet spread throughout the duration of the event.
Steamed Buns with ground pork meat
Banzai Restaurant Promos, Deals and Discounts
Get more value for money with Banzai’s lineup of promo offerings valid until December 31, and enjoy a sumptuous spread of authentic Japanese food.
Sushi and Sashimi Bar
Groups of 6 can enjoy Banzai’s 5+1 promo, available during weekdays, weekends and holidays, where one enjoys a complimentary buffet.
Pinoy Cosplayers at Banzai Gallery
The Birthday promo allows birthday celebrants to enjoy a free buffet when dining with 3 full paying guests. The celebrant must present two valid photographed IDs to avail the promo, available 3 days before, during, and 3 days after the celebrants birthday.
On weekdays, The More The Merrier Promo entitles guests in groups of 20 of more to a 20% discount.
Senior Circle is for guests aged 75 years and above, who will enjoy a 30% discount on weekday lunch or dinner upon presenting their Senior Citizen ID.
For the Wedding Anniversary promo, married couples enjoy 15% discount 3 days before, during, and 3 days after their wedding anniversary, upon presenting a copy of their marriage certificate and valid photo IDs.
Banzai vouchers are also available on group selling website Metro Deal (www.metrodeal.com) until October 30 (redemption period until November 15) for only P559 instead of the usual P699 for weekday lunch or dinner and Saturday lunch, public holidays not included.
All promos are not available in conjunction with any other promos or discounts.
The Banzai Street Festival runs through the weekends of the month of October. Banzai is located at Bldg J, SM MOA by the Bay, Pasay City. For more information on Banzai and their promos, visit https:// www.facebook.com/BanzaiPH, follow @Banzai_PH on Twitter and Instagram, or call 0916-3775357; 0999-4713597; (02) 552-7368 for inquiries and reservations.