Kitsho's King Crab

Clawed chow!
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte

This March, Traders Hotel Manila (THM) offers gourmands new and exciting dishes at its fine dining outlet Kitsho, an authentic Japanese restaurant offering traditional dishes with very contemporary twists. This gastronomic stopover, which also features a sake bar, is destined to be the home of Japanese cuisine in Manila's bay area.
Available only for this month, the seasonal fare of king crabs and puffer fish (fugu) takes center stage in both its a la carte and set menus. The same will be served again when the cold and wintry season kicks in starting October; as both the puffer fish and king crab will be in abundance by then.
“Kitsho is a modern and stylish outlet with authentic traditional Fukuoka fare developed for the Philippine market. We bring to the 21st century the best of Japanese culinary traditions in style,” apprized executive chef Masahiro Mizumoto.
Shipped all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun, the king crab is best enjoyed either grilled with a dash of lemon or steamed, and then proffered with a special vinegar sauce that’s mixed from tosazu and ponzu. “They are plentiful during the winter season. These crabs are meatier and with compact morsels,” continued Chef Mizumoto.
Also known as the horseshoe crab, the king crab is any of several very large crabs especially from the Paralithoides camtschaticus variety endemic to the North Pacific and caught commercially for food. The best ones from Hokkaido are sold at P11,000 a kilo!
“It is available now but to order it, you need at least three or four days advance notice to account for its shipment from Japan. King crabs are caught in Hokkaido near the Russian border. They can be found only in cold climate. The set meal is served with hot pot and a choice between congee or noodles,” he added.
The hot pot is a savory soup laden with shiitake, straw mushrooms, Japanese mustard, shimeji, carrots, onion leeks, tofu, king crab and devil’s tongue noodles. Once the broth starts to simmer the slices of crab are dropped into it, followed by the mushrooms. When cooked, the mixture is served. Then more crab goes to the broth again, this time with the carrots and leeks. After it is served, the noodles and shimeji are immersed in the broth.
The new fare are prepared from the seasonal winter king crab and puffer fish; the latter denizen, a poison-filled fish that needs to be expertly prepared before it can be eaten. This is the very fish that caused my paternal grandfather’s untimely demise. You could say that fugu is one dish ‘to die for.’
Puffer fish or fugu is any of the species of chiefly tropical scale-less marine bony fishes from the Tetraodontidae family which can distend themselves to a globular form and most of which are highly poisonous. They are also known as blowfish, globefish and/or swellfish. They contain the poisonous toxin tetrodotoxin but are used as food in Japan, as early as 1909, after the toxin-containing parts have been removed.
Masahiro-san earned his degree and license to prepare fugu after an intensive five-year course in Fukuoka; which only a few pass. He is the only licensed chef to prepare fugu in the Philippines.
A chip of the old block, Chef Misumoto's father is a sushi chef who owns and operates the Nodasho Japanese restaurant in Pasong Tamo, Makati City. A man of very few words, he'd rather let you taste his dishes than talk about how he prepared them.
“Food like good music has no borderline. It gets to be enjoyed by all people regardless of nationality. The western Japanese cuisine is sweeter in taste. The eastern side is more salty and closer to the Filipino palate,” the executive said at the end of our luncheon.
Kitsho, which means “happiness” in Nippongo, also offers authentic Japanese cuisine with a wide range of sushi, sashimi, tempura, teppanyaki and a whole lot more. Sake lovers will likewise enjoy its cozy bar that features an extensive option of sake selections. The list includes 10 house-special cocktails and seven so-chu concoctions. Even on lunch hours, their spiked smoothies are tops! Try their Kitsho Sunrise, an invigorating drink with mango, orange juice, so-chu, grenadine syrup and dollops of sake.
Aside from the giant aquarium at the sushi bar, Kitsho's open, theater-type kitchen is one of the main attractions inside the restaurant. The dining room, swathed in the perfectly contrasting tones of alabaster and burgundy, highlights contemporary design with booth and lounge seats that can accommodate a maximum of 92 covers.
Discover new heights in Japanese cuisine as executive chef Masahiro Mizumoto expertly prepares the poison-free fugu and exotic dishes like the delectable king crab. And to cap a perfect finish to your meal, try kitsuba, a red bean cake.
Other must-tries from the menu include the sashimi platter, moriawase, with delectable slices of squid, maguro (tuna), Norwegian salmon, and the mouth-watering shimesaba (marinated mackerel). Even for just the delectable morsels of the king crab, a trip to Kitsho is worth the effort. And if you have an adventurous palate, don’t miss out on the carefully prepared fugu - as an appetizing steamed or grilled entree, served with its specially-made sauces. And after all the eating, close your meal with their locally sourced brown rice tea to settle your tummy.
Kitsho’s four private dens have collapsible walls that easily convert the entire space from an intimate small group to a larger area that's ideal for mid-sized gatherings that can easily seat 20 persons.
Kitsho is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesdays through Sundays and dinnertime on Mondays. For inquiries and advance reservations, simply call 523-7011 extensions 2912 and 2913.
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and/or manages 72 hotels under the Shangri-La, Kerry and Traders labels, with a room inventory of over 33,000. Traders Hotels are designed to satisfy the needs of the fast growing mid-market travel segment by offering a wide range of facilities, and efficient, practical and friendly hospitality, at competitive prices.
Starting April, passengers flying on Philippine Airlines to anywhere in Japan will get to taste Chef Mizumoto’s signature dishes while on air. He is the man-of-the-hour for the airline’s Master Chef series. Masahiro-san gets to prepare the flight menu until April 2015.
Traders Hotels are located in Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Changzhou, Dubai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Male, Penang, Shenyang, Singapore, Yangon and Manila; with scheduled openings in Chennai and Iskandar. The group has a substantial development scheme in the pipeline with upcoming projects in Canada, mainland China, India, Malaysia, Mongolia, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the Philippines. For more information, simply access their Web site at


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