By now, you are well aware that 35-year-old Marvin Agustin has long transformed himself from being a typical ’90s matinee idol with a kachupoy haircut to a respected restaurant mogul with a rather serious haircut. Having started big Japanese chain restaurants like Sumo Sam and John Yoko, he and his partners have also opened other Japanese dining concepts, like Tokyo Grill, Mr. Kurosawa, Robotosan, Banzai, and their latest, Akira.
Each one reflects a different side of the cuisine: Sumo Sam is “fun” Japanese food, Mr. Kurosawa is “fusion” Japanese food, while Banzai is a Japenese buffet concept similar to Sambokojun and Yakimix. So what makes Akira different from all the others?
“Oh, the teppanyaki and the sushi,” Marvin says. But don’t all his other restaurants offer those things? “Well, we offer variety, still, and we have the favorites, like tempura, the bento, and even the grills. But we want (Akira) to be known for teppanyaki and sushi.”
Teppanyaki refers to the Japanese style of cooking food over an iron griddle or a teppan. Akira’s teppanyaki chefs are trained to show their mastery of the flame, turning an ordinary dining experience into a live pyrotechnic show. Diners can choose among Steak and Lobster Teppan, Mixed Seafood Teppan, All Meat Teppan, Mixed Mushrooms and Vegetables Teppan, and Steak and Prawns.
But why Japanese, Marvin? Did you obsessively read manga and watch animé as child? Did you fall in love with a Japanese woman who later broke your heart? Were you so stirred by fellow actor Tom Cruise’s performance in The Last Samurai?
“I love their food! It could be healthy—it be unhealthy! You can go all-out. Ang daming varieties! (There are so many varieties!),” he answers.
Fair enough. Variety is the cat’s meow!
If their track record is anything to go by, Marvin and his partners aren’t stopping with Akira. Later this year, the group is set to open Tsukiji Aozora Sandaime in Newport Mall, and during the opening of Akira in Shangri-La Mall, they intimated that they were set to open another restaurant in Eastwood soon.
Marvin won’t say much, but he does reveal one thing: “It’s going to be Japanese still. Basta soon, we’ll invite you.”
So that makes, what, nine Japanese restaurants for you, Marvin Agustin! You go, Marvin Agustin!
Akira. 5/F, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Shaw Boulevard corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City. (02) 654-3920.