“In Baipora, we believe that creativity transits through different forms and perspectives – may it be through food, the traditional arts, or a simple act of service.”
It’s hard to find a Japanese restaurant that offers just the right balance of interesting food and pocket-friendly prices. Who would’ve ever thought I would find just that near Greenhills in San Juan? Jericho and I tagged a long with Karla, a good friend and creator of Quiche the Cook, who we had been hanging out with for most of the afternoon, and made a beeline for her friend’s cozy little restaurant at the Ashcreek Center, braving the traffic at what happened to be the night INC members decided to occupy EDSA.
Bairpora (bipolar in Japanese, if you didn’t get it), offers an interesting take on Japanese fusion cuisine inspired from all over the globe. The color red dominates most of the interior, softened by natural wood and hexagonal geometric shapes of the tables.
The quirky (read: funky yet delicious) menu has been put together by Chef Louie Espiritu, one of the owners. Having worked neck-deep in Singapore’s international range of cuisines, the experience enabled him to understand culinary fusion at its core. This, merged with the rest of the team’s genuine interest and search for new Japanese food led to Baipora’s mission to being forth unique Japanese fusion dishes, allowing guests can explore creative food moods transitioning from casual dishes during the daytime, to a more sophisticated platter at night.
We got to try a little bit of everything that night, here’s a list of my favorites:
Don’t look the simple presentation of the Karaage Chicken Salad (₱199) fool you – you get lots of bang for your buck from just the portion size alone. Crispy karaage chicken is served with a generous helping of greens, julienned cucumber and carrots, mandarin oranges for acid, nori strips for that Asian twist, and fried wonton strips for added crunch, served with a sesame dressing on the side.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Japanese place if they didn’t serve some sort of sushi. The folks at Baipora make it a lot more interesting with their Surf & Turf Sushi (₱295), with fat pieces of prawn tempura wrapped in sushi rice with tamago and vegetables finished with thin slices of avocado and medium rare steak.
Since Baipora is so near a lot of schools, so alcohol is definitely not on the menu. Instead, fizzy Mocktails (₱120) are on the menu that come in flavors like Blue Mojito, Cucumber Mojito, and Passion Fruit. My favorite is the Cucumber Mojito, a balance of refreshing yet not too sweet. If sweet is what you’re after, then the Passion Fruit mocktail is for you.
The Gyoza Ala Pelmini (Php 320) is another delicious fusion dish, marrying Japanese gyoza with Eastern European pierogi. European dumpling meets Japanese dumpling, while the yogurt dip cleans the palate of that cloying oiliness common in both dishes. This dish is wonderfully confused, definitely something worth trying!
When I’m craving for takoyaki, I usually go to Ha Na at Little Tokyo for my fix. Bairpora, on the other hand, takes all the little takoyaki balls and melds them into one giant Mixed Seafood Takoyaki Cake (₱180)! Presented with a raw egg yolk on top to add a richer, creamier texture to the whole dish, toss everything together to appreciate al the different
The most ingenious fusion food I enjoyed that night was their Balls of Curry (₱220), a mash up of Japanese curry and the British scotch egg. Make sure you cut the meatballs right smack in the middle to get that oozing 6-minute eggy center. This is served with lemon and yogurt to cut through the strong curry flavors. Taken up another notch, this is also served with pita bread, so you can eat it like a little shawarma pocket. Convenient, no?
Baipora also serves big platters that is great for dinner, which is still pretty affordable given the portion size. Take their Nori Wrapped Pork Steak (₱385) with rice, vegetables, and a wasabi and sake cream sauce. I appreciated the way the pork was seared ’til blushing, leaving the meat tender and malleable enough to be cut with a spoon. The cream sauce tied everything together nicely, but I do wish they added more nori strips to the dish for texture and added flavor.
Lastly, as much as I love buttermilk chicken with biscuits and gravy, the Pan Seared Ponzu Chicken (₱375) at Baipora may give it a run for its money, served with vegetables and mashed potatoes alongside red pepper sauce.
As far as dessert is concerned, well, we went a little sugar crazy.
One of the best-selling desserts in the menu is Baipora’s Oreo Tempura (₱150), deep-fried in a golden batter and served with with an ice cream dip. This is fantastic, as the ice cream melts into a rich milk upon contact with the warm Oreo – it makes me kind of wish they’d do a British twist to this and serve a Mars bar tempura next.
Coffee is always pleasant to pair with dessert, so I ordered myself a Cappuccino (₱120), while somebody else from the table ordered their Black Sesame (Php 130), which tastes a lot like a flat white with ground up black sesame seeds in the mix for an nutty aftertaste with every sip. For a cold milkshake, the Oreo Cheesecake (₱150) comes highly recommended and is Instagram pretty to boot! Baipora also has a few interesting cakes on display that they sell by the slice such as Red Velvet and Crêpe Cakes in vanilla and mocha flavors that just look like pieces of edible art.
Speaking of art, when dining at Baipora, I couldn’t help but admire all the paintings on the walls. The owners want the restaurant to also be home to creative transformations, coming from different walks of life and varying modes of expressions – visible through the restaurants interiors. Art pieces from local artists like Krista Nogueras, Brent Sabas, Rex Aguilar, and Josephine Madarang decorate the space, as well as super cute sculptures from their partnership with the Philippine Origami Organization. And yes, they’re all for sale. I have my eye on an origami elephant family myself!
Overall, it hurts me deeply to find such exceptionally quirky and barioishii (that’s very, very delicious, btw – thanks, Google!) so far from where I live! Because of the whole INC rally (that we had no idea was happening at the time), I got home 3 hours after leaving their premises, with absolutely no regrets! I am definitely going back to pay them a visit the next time I ding myself in Greenhills and I think you should, too! And do check out all the gorgeous artwork while you’re at it!
Baipora is located at 105 Ashcreek Center, Madison St., corner Ortigas Avenue, San Juan and is open on Monday – Thursday from 7:30am – 9pm; Friday and Saturday from 7:30am – 10pm; and Sundays and holidays from 11am – 9pm. For inquiries, please call +63 2 656 1188.