The Japanese word for ‘blue sky’ seems appropriate for this cozy sake and sushi bar, considering that they’re at an airy aerie. Located atop the Domicillio Design Hotel, one of the newest boutique hotels in Tagaytay, the intimate Japanese café and bistro offers your usual favorite California makis and chicken teriyakis, along with some other unique creations.
In town for an overnight stay at Domicillio, Jericho and I headed up to lunch at Aozora before checking in. One of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in the area, they also boast of having a Japanese chef, Yokohama native named Senji Kamura, who has stayed in the country long enough to be calling the Philippines his second home. The café itself is quite small, but with half of its walls made of windows and the cheery Tagaytay weather (at least when it isn’t raining), the intimate space makes for part of the charm.
To start, Jericho and I split an order of Rainbow Maki (Php 320), a colorful-looking California roll topped with slices of tuna, salmon, tamago, shime, saba, and mango, avocado, and cucumber. The flavors were simple, with the taste of each fish, egg, fruit, and vegetable coming through – lean, creamy, and fatty. Although if anything, I feel that the main ingredients were sliced too thinly, and a slightly thicker cut would have made for them to shine through with a more enjoyable mouthfeel.
A simple staple that I always enjoy at Japanese restaurants is the Chicken Karaage (Php 280), so we had that, too. The plating is straightforward, and I also appreciated the simple addition of sliced potatoes, served with calamansi to cut through the cloying taste of fried food.
Chef Senji gives the locals the best of both worlds with his Aozora Ramen (Php 320) which is inspired from a popular comfort food in Tagaytay – bulalo. Hearty chunks of beef shank, corn, and pechay are added to the bowl along with ramen noodles and a boiled egg. If you’re ordering other dishes, this is definitely something you would want to share with a mate. I like my food laced with a touch of spice, so dash of chili powder was all I needed for a happier tummy.
The nights in Tagaytay can be pretty chilly, especially with the rains becoming more and more regular this time of year, which is when the sake bar at Aozora comes to life. Importing some of the more popular brands from Japan, the activity of getting sloshed on sake is best done with a group of buddies, out by the patio, with a plate of karaage chicken to help you keep going three bottles later.
Not really one to partake in strong drink, I did appreciate the breathtaking view of Taal volcano by Aozora’s veranda. It was a beautiful day, and the white puffs of clouds looked like they were kissing the top of the volcano as they passed by.
For the early birds that come to Tagaytay looking for a filling breakfast before exploring other parts of the city, they serve authentic as well as contemporary Japanese meals. An omurice meal with Japanese sausages and miso soup as well as Sumiyaki coffee is quite satisfying, as one takes in the fresh morning air amidst the scenic view, making your morning brekkie extra special.
Aozora Japanese Cafe + Bistro is located at Domicillo Design Hotel (along scenic ridge), Km 58 General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay CIty, Cavite 2418 and is open between 8am – 10pm. For inquiries and reservations +63 46 413 4486, +63 915 503 8800 or +63 906 413 4486.