*This article was written when they were at their old location in Mabolo. Their new address is Don Jose Avila St.Capitol site. Beside Sacred Heart School – Hijas de Jesus.

Japanese food is often pricey in the Philippines because of the special ingredients used in every dish. So you can imagine the thrill I felt when I heard about this “hole-in-the-wall” that, according to my friends, offered a gastronomic selection of Japanese cuisine!

Joed’s Lutong Hapon is now a popular dine-in place in the city, what with employees, students, artists, and even people from the national music scene coming to this little nook in Mabolo almost every day. It started as a small karenderya (eatery), with only the owner and his wife serving the customers.

The man behind the brilliance of Joed’s Lutong Hapon is Edgar Malipatan (yeah, I thought his name was Joed too!). Joed is the combination of the first syllables of his and his wife’s name, Joan. Edgar spent 20 years in Japan, as a chef at Tokyo Prince Hotel. He came back home seven years ago because, well, he got tired and decided to open his own business in Cebu. Do you remember that drinking place called Hideout? It was his bar, but things didn’t go well so it closed. Although Edgar owns another bar in Leyte, he lives here in Cebu and busies himself manning Joed’s.

Joed’s Lutong Hapon now has a staff of four, but he and his wife are still in-charge of mixing and cooking the main component of every dish – the meat. They prepare the meat used for the different beef and pork dishes at least an hour before customers rush in. Only Edgar and his wife Joan know the secret behind the authentic Japanese taste of their food, and for good reason.

When we were at Joed’s for this feature, I got to taste a few of their best sellers and it was heavenly! I can eat their Sukiyakidon forever, which is a generous helping of beef strips lathered in sweet and salty sauce paired with seaweed-topped rice. It also has raw egg seasoned with spices on the side, which I think is supposed to go with the beef strips to give it a creamy texture.

But the best part of eating at Joed’s? The food is insanely affordable for its taste! For only 100 pesos, you get eight humungous pieces of their infamous Ebi Salada Maki. Like some Gyoza with your rice? Only 75 pesos! Want some Ebi Tempura? That’s 120 pesos, sir! All their rice meals cost 65 pesos to 185 pesos, and a guaranteed burp.

Joed’s Lutong Hapon is not your typical Japanese restaurant. Not only is the food splendid, Edgar himself is very humble and gracious to every customer who asks, “Ikaw si Joed?” (Are you Joed?) He is very accommodating and friendly, and he treats his customers like old pals. He answers your questions with a huge smile on his face, which is what makes eating at Joed’s Lutong Hapon a whole new dining experience… and having a big, tattooed guy cook and bring your food with finesse.

*Tip: You can call and place your orders in advance so you don’t have to wait in the long line of hungry customers.

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