Chatswood is setting another buzz both for the Japanese community in Cebu and Filipino Japanese aficionados alike. A group of Japanese living in Cebu (among them is Shogo of 175R) has introduced Neo-Tokyo.
Neo-Tokyo is the Japanese community of Cebu’s answer to A.S. Fortuna’s and Cebu’s growing Japanese population. It features various specialty Japanese restaurants, a rooftop beach bar, and a karaoke party bar that would be a good place for Japanese to hang out. The building where Neo-Tokyo is located is called Chatswood Drive which also has office spaces and other commercial spaces.
One of the restaurants in Neo-Tokyo called Ebisu Udon, as the name suggests, specializes in udon noodles. Shogo, famously known in Japan as the lead singer of ska punk band 175R, is the owner of the new restaurant. We got a chance to talk to him about Neo-Tokyo and living in the Philippines.
As for choosing the Philippines, he said he prefers the warmth of the Filipino people, the climate, and wants his kids to be exposed in a good English environment. As to why he chose Neo-Tokyo, he said A.S. Fortuna is already popular for Japanese and it’s easy for them to gather in the area. He wanted a central area where Japanese can gather and spend time when they visit Cebu.
In the future, Shogo hopes to have more branches of his restaurant especially in Mactan and Bohol when Filipinos recognize his authentic Japanese food. He hopes Neo-Tokyo will be a haven for Japanese who move in to Cebu and foreign students studying in the island. He hopes he can help them and feel the goodness of Japan again.
Aside from Ebisu Udon, Shogo also owns the karaoke party bar, Yolo Bar, of the same floor. Unlike the usual KTV bars where you have to pay by the hour, you can sing as long as you want when you buy drinks from the bar.
Opening its latest branch in Chatswood Drive is the familiar Japanese restaurant Matsunoya. The Izakaya-style Japanese restaurant has been in business for many years now in Cebu and has continuously expanded around different parts of the island. We got to talk to the manager of the Neo-Tokyo branch, Yuma, about working here in the Philippines and the challenges the restaurant encounters.
Yuma originally worked in the Sacris Road, Bakilid, Mandaue branch then transferred working at the SM Seaside branch so she already has experienced working in a Philippine business environment. She later went back to Japan to gain more experience in working 4 years in the same restaurant. She said there are challenges working in the Philippines such as plans going awry. On their first opening day, there were no glasses on the windows. Some Japanese ingredients are hard to find. No one is selling sesame sauce and ponzu so they have to make them from scratch.
Yuma is hoping that Matsunoya will be so popular that people will have to make a reservation to get in.
Another unique Japanese restaurant to visit is Igokochiya-Sun. Igokochiya-Sun is a yakitori restaurant from Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka. Their Cebu branch is considered to be their first overseas opening and the first to have a yakitori restaurant vibe from Japan.
Although 90% of their customers are Japanese, Filipinos come in from time to time. They all say “delicious” with a smile. Most Filipinos love their bestselling Yakitori while their karaage also is on top of the list for the locals to order. Igokochiya-Sun is open from 5 pm to 1 am every day except Wednesdays.
On the 4th floor is where Pi Paradise, the rooftop beach bar, is located. The bar gives a nice balcony view of the surrounding area with booze to enjoy the night life.
Just a note if you are going there by vehicle, you cannot enter the area through Hernan Cortez St. as that side of Chatswood Center is used as an exit. Vehicles must enter through the right lane of A.S Fortuna. If you are coming from the left lane, please note that you must U-turn beside Shell gas station as it is dangerous to make a left turn right away. There are plenty of parking spaces in the area.
There are more stores waiting for you when you visit there, so get to experience a little bit of Japan.