Shin Mikana | The Hidden Jewel at The Araneta City

Shin Mikana

Like most restaurants, Shin Mikana is one of the few Japanese restaurants in the Philippines that caters to the traditional style cooking. This venue struck a certain level of popularity on social media platforms like TikTok and I wanted to see if what most people said is true and if this place is worth your money.

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Before we dive into the actual food stuff, this article requires a bit of a back story and how I came to the point of suddenly wanting to write about this establishment.

As mentioned in the introduction, I came across this restaurant by some content creator on TikTok as a \”hidden\” or \”secret place\” to eat in Cubao, Araneta City. The reason why it is considered \”hidden\” is mainly because it is located on top of a convenience store.

The store itself caters to all things found in Japanese stores with a wide variety of selections to choose from which is great if you fancy buying Japanese products.

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Upon entry at Shin Mikana, you\’re greeted by an automated sensor that says something in Japanese welcoming you to the store, and basically the experience of being in a convenience store is no different from any other establishment such as 7-Eleven or Lawson etc.

Unlike most restaurants you walk into, you just have to approach the staff and ask for the restaurant to which they would point you towards a staircase which then brings you to the actual restaurant. Now this isn\’t my first time dining in this restaurant, the first time I was here, it was a subtle nightmare, being trapped in a restaurant with no air-conditioning, filled with people and eating in a cramped table, not exactly the best experience but the food was great as well as the price.

Come January 2024, I wanted to take another jab at this place and give it another chance thinking, maybe, just maybe the overall service has improved.

Order for this trip:

1. Shio Tonkatsu Ramen
2. California Maki
3. Spicy Salmon Maki

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California Maki

If you\’ve dined in any Japanese restaurant, be it fast food or not, this is arguably one of the most common type of dishes that you can order and regardless of the ingredients used, the taste remains the same. Considering this is a rather typical dish, there\’s really not much to rate here as anyone who\’s experienced cooking can make this and doesn\’t even have to be a Japanese chef for that matter.

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Spicy Salmon Maki

Much like the California Maki, this type of sushi falls under the \”one bite\” sushi category, which basically means you can eat a piece in one go. This would\’ve been an easy 5 star rating had it had that one ingredient that was missing, which is \”green onions\”. It is spicy and has a nice blend of sweetness to it but by missing out on that extra ingredient it falls a bit short to the taste, but still is good.

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Shio Tonkatsu Ramen

Don\’t let the looks fool you, as bland and unartistic the food presentation looks, it makes up for it in terms of taste, the soup alone was very much mouth watering giving you that level of satisfaction on every sip. However..

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It literally came with just one piece of meat. I\’ve tried eating this exact same dish in other Japanese restaurants and usually you\’re treated with two to three pieces, but having just one that comes with fat is a red flag. The dish literally had so much noodles in it which I think was used to compensate for the quantity and left out the essentials of the dish which made this a rather sad ending for my go-to ramen of choice.

Conclusion:

In my honest opinion, Shin Mikana, as a Japanese restaurant has so much potential to being one of the greats, as a matter of fact when I did a bit of research they also have two other branches located in different parts of the Philippines which means, the other branches are doing great to afford putting up shop in a prime location such as the Araneta City.

However, despite that growth, and I wouldn\’t know exactly how the other branches operate but for this new location to succeed, they have to work on a few things:

1. Consistency of their food: If you encounter a customer who enjoys your food, and this person shares their experience online or by word of mouth, future customers would also want to experience that same level of excitement that first customer did. It\’s quite difficult to recommend a restaurant that doesn\’t show consistency with how the food is cooked or prepared and in the off chance that there are some elements missing and it is a rather sad excuse.

2. The Staff: During our time here, on the onset, I already had a gut feel how the staff operates and it is quite the shocker to be honest but if nobody calls them out, then how would the service improve.

The first thing that I captured was, the staff are \”profilers\”, I was raising my hand calling for a waiter to give my order then another customer who looked relatively much more dressed was attended first, I mean seriously, are we using the taxi method now where after standing in the rain hailing a cab, the cab driver suddenly picks up someone closer than the first one who called for a taxi that\’s just bad customer service and such a bad impression in all angles.

The second thing I noticed which I wish that restaurants would stop doing is processing orders in bulk. This type of process is not always as efficient as most people would think. Imagine taking 5-10 orders from different customers and you lay them all on a table, once the food is prepped you randomly select tickets and serve people in random, that\’s just off on so many levels and very unprofessional, very inconvenient for those who placed their orders first or who arrived first.

I was promised 15-20 minutes for the serving time and I got my ordered dishes in roughly 57 minutes, a far cry from the 15-20 minute wait time, not only was I already pissed, I was also starving not exactly the best combination especially when it comes to food.

3. The Audio: Generally if your objective is to give that traditional Japanese dining experience, what are the things to be expected at the core?

– Japanese Food
– Japanese Interiors
– Japanese decorations

What made this place suck ultimately is the fact that they had songs from Ed Sheeran on repeat and some other male artist on loop, I mean they could\’ve just got some relaxing ambient sound playing in the background but no, they just had to play some pop whatever track on repeat. I personally have no problems with the artists or their songs, but having to hear them on repeat/ loop all throughout the time that I was eating there was just annoying plus the volume was relatively loud making it difficult to enjoy the food or have a conversation if you\’re eating with someone.

This of course leads to one thing \”customers speaking loudly at each other which just increased the level of sound being heard in a small space\”.

The minute I finished my dish, paid and left, didn\’t even bother relaxing a bit it was just that bad and this is the second time around.

Quick Summary:

  • Good food
  • Affordable
  • Worst kind of staff
  • Bad ambience for comfort food

I can proudly say, those people who claimed that Shin Mikana to be the \”best\” place to eat Japanese food, are either trying to get the good graces of the store so they would be given a free meal or is just trying to make something go viral by misleading people.

I wouldn\’t say it is the worst, it also has its pros for a Japanese restaurant, I just wish and hope that they improve the things that I\’ve observed and captured during the time I\’ve dined here, and hopefully, by the time I consider going back here, the experience would be much better.

For more information on Shin Mikana click here
Their Social Media page, click here

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