Izakaya Kenta Japanese Restaurant

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When we say Izakaya Kenta, the first thing that comes to the minds of Japanese people is a “Pub House” or a “Resto Bar”. A place where people can eat, drink, and relax after a long period of working hours, whereas, the word “Kenta” is the name of the Resto Bar, itself. Izakaya Kenta started their very first operations way back in 1997 and the majority of their customers was the Japanese community.

Dr. Reynaldo “Rey” Medina used to be one of the fanatical customers of the authentic Japanese cuisines of Izakaya Kenta that originally started in 1997 at Pedro Gil, Manila Philippines.

It was also the same  year where Dr. Medina fell in love with the taste of every Japanese food they had in the menu. He used to keep coming back to the Resto Bar to dine and drink, which made him very well-known by all the staff and most especially by the original manager of Izakaya Kenta. He was a loyal customer to this Japanese Restaurant and even treated it as his second home, a very close to heart hangout.

In October of 1981, Dr. Rey Medina travelled to Japan for a scholarship opportunity to attain the degree of Doctorate in Hydrologic Engineering at Kyushu University. He was then with his wife and their eldest son, Ian. The Medina family lived in Japan for 7 years as his wife eventually gave birth to Sakura and Elwyn.

With their seven years in Japan, they became quite familiar with the Japanese culture and and as a result grew attached to the cuisine.

In Year 2013, Dr. Rey Medina received a business proposal to reopen his favourite Japanese Restaurant, Izakaya Kenta, since it stopped its operations in 2011. Dr. Medina has an existing Engineering Consultancy business. It was never connected to his course and business nor in his bloodline as well. It was simply his the love for Japanese food that served as Doc. Rey’s greatest fundamental and primary reason to finally accept the offer of Izakaya Kenta. Well then at last, he decided to buy the rights and the name of the resto bar and reopened it with endeavour. With all the prayers, guts and courage, Medina family focused to their objective, and this is to bring Ikazaya Kenta back to limelight once again. That’s the power of family business. One goal. One destination. United success.

Now it’s clearly undeniable that it was never a plan to run a Japanese Resto Bar business, not a plan, but a gift. A gift that Medina family could never refuse. Imagine how Doc. Rey was just one of the avid customers of a 20-year old Japanese Resto Bar, but in year 2013, he then became the owner of this notable Japanese dining place. Therefore, it is safe to say that Izakaya Kenta Resto Bar was perfectly destined to be Medinas’ living legacy.

Doc Rey is a genius. This man knew that he had to recapture the Kenta’s old Japanese customers, for Izakaya Kenta had been closed down for two years since 2011. Right after he bought the rights and name of Kenta, Doc Rey strategically and immediately transferred the resto bar from Pedro Gil to G/F Malate Bayview Mansion, 1781 M. Adriatico St. in Malate. He knew that Malate is a vibrant tourist spot for Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and Filipino customers especially since the Japanese Embassy is located there. Just a few minutes-walk from the resto bar is the Malate Church, Shipping Companies, and numerous commercial establishments as well. He believed that once a single Japanese customer found out about their newly reopened Kenta Resto Bar and tasted their authentic Japanese cuisines, then that would be the start of every single sale and success they’ve been dreamt of. And because of the power of location, their business address brought 80% Japanese customers who got really addicted to their authentic Japanese cuisines and to that effect, success became very faithful for the Medina family.

Though there were numbers of birth pains during the Izakaya Kenta reopening, the head of the family was being backed-up by his two sons, Ian and Elwyn. Ian being the eldest, who took part of a very challenging role in business. He is the Chef of the resto.

Having a background in Culinary Arts in Manila and being a Graduate of Sushi Chef Institute in Torrance, California, only proved that every Japanese food and ingredients they have in the kitchen are all guaranteed genuinely fresh and honestly authentic. Plus the extra factor that Master Chef Dennis Ganzon who used to work as a Master Chef for 20 years at the original Izakaya Kenta, decided to join force with Medina Family to preserve the recipes that have been famous to the old Japanese customers for almost two decades in a row. To intensify the harmony of their business synergy, this young Elwyn, the youngest of all and a proud product of UST Architecture Department, happened to be such a strong-willed and enthusiastic in designing their resto bar to be one of a kind. His style is to make their Japanese customers feel that whenever they look at their
interior designs, they would feel like they’re already back home.

Indeed. This is all because of the head of the family, Dr. Rey Medina, but regardless, the Doctor humbly said that, having his two great sons around and working with the outstanding Master Chef in Japanese food industry, is the most important thing for them to compete because according to him, they make him proud of the results of their hard-work and perseverance, they are the ones who bring pride to the business, and that is ever since Izakaya Kenta began.

“Lutong-bahay”. The sweetest compliment. The famous trademark of Izakaya Kenta. This is what their Japanese customers always have to say whenever they taste the authenticity and freshness of Japanese dishes and drinks inside their resto bar. Every order is worth your money, awesome experience with a high quality service and unbelievable feelings that when you get to dine at Izakaya Kenta, if you’re a Japanese Citizen, you just couldn’t help but say “I’m finally back home”. That’s the greatest achievement that Medina family have ever heard from their consumers. This is why in return, aside from Izakaya Kenta, Malate Branch, the family had opened a branch at Banawe, Quezon City, for they believe that there’s also a lot of Japanese people in the area who have been longing to say that “Yes…It tastes like home”.

Izakaya Kenta is located on the Ground Floor, Malate Bayview Mansion, 1781 M. Adriatico St. Malate, Manila, Philippines. For reservations, call (02).523.1874. For news and updates, follow them at www.facebook.com/izakayakenta.

Photographed by Godwin Gasacao

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