I spent an afternoon in Tokyo today.

Little Tokyo, that is in Pasong Tamo, Makati.  It is right beside Plaza Fair, and the old Makati Cinema Square.

You know you’ve arrived in Little Tokyo once you spot the earthy orange torii arch at Pasong Tamo (Left).

I went there in search of this Japanese grocery store that some Pinoy otakus on the web were blogging about, called the Choto Shop. Items they said could be bought at Php75 only.  Since I need some supplies for my FooDorama Challenge, I decided to try out this much-talked about shop, too.

I set a date for my adventure to Little Tokyo. I chose this day, a Monday since it was my day-off.

The atmosphere in Little Tokyo can be a bit intimidating if you went there without any purpose or agenda. Good thing I knew what I was looking for.

Choto Shop was easy to find. Even if the attendants were Pinoys and the shop was located in my own country, I still felt like I entered a strange foreign land.  There were a handful of Japanese customers around and almost everyone was talking in Japanese.

Lost in translation: There were a few signs in English translating the products on the shelves.  You can either guess the contents of a package or just ask for assistance.

However, I must have come on a bad time since all the things I was looking for were not available on this day.  For example, I had wanted to buy Morinaga ice cream that blogger Garando was talking about. But most of their refrigerator shelves were empty.  Supplies were coming in later in the day. The shop maybe called Choto (“wait” in English) but I didn’t expect I would do exactly that.

I was a bit disappointed because I thought I had come a long way for nothing.  I do understand that items at Choto are limited to products only worth Php75.  And their items do run out fast.

It was a good thing that there was this one attendant who helped me out. She said that maybe I should try the other Japanese grocery shop just around the corner. You mean, there’s another one? My hopes were raised as she gave me the name and location of the other shop.

Maybe my day wasn’t such a waste after all…

To be continued in Part 2: Yamazaki Grocery

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(Note: This is a continuation of An Afternoon in Little Tokyo)

As it turned out, my day had not been a waste of time! I initially thought my adventure in Little Tokyo (Pasong Tamo, Makati) would result to a write-up about Choto Shop. I ended up discovering and liking Yamazaki Grocery instead!

Yamazaki Grocery was just around the corner from Choto, along Fernando St., across the side entrance of Plaza Fair.

Boy, was I like a kid in a candy shop (or in our context, a small kid in a fastfood burger joint)… Store attendants were helpful and courteous, too.

All the sauces I need! Even if their products were costlier than Choto, I found and bought all the items in my list! They even have real naruto (NOT the anime, mind you) – wow!

Grateful that everything was spelled out in English including their prices –whew!

Some of the items I bought from Yamazaki: aonoriko, bonito shavings, and adzuki beans.

They have a restaurant where you can unwind after shopping. They serve authentic Japanese dishes at affordable prices (I mean compared to the ones at the malls).

This is their take-out delivery menu (click pic for a better read). Mmm, if only I live near Makati.

Yamazaki made my afternoon in Little Tokyo absolutely worthwhile. Once I use up the items I bought, I am definitely going back! Arigato gozaimasu, Yamazaki!

The old building in Makati which had been standing unfinished for God knows how long (i was still a kid when they first started constructing it) had been a major eye-sore in the skyline of the country’s premier business district.  Yup…all metro manilans know what i’m referring to.  It is the one opposite the former Mantrade, near the Magallanes MRT station, towering over Ecology Village and the fly-over at the corner of Chino Roces Ave. and EDSA.

I researched about it (google keywords i used: old, ugly, unfinished building, Makati).  What I found out: It was owned by the Puyat family and South China Resources, Inc. It was supposed to be named Pilipinas Plaza. One person in a thread commenting about Metro Manila buildings (yes, they talk about buildings-just buildings… wow) even called it the ‘chaka jaka building’ (really, REALLY ugly building).

Everytime i pass by it, I look at it, feeling sad that something so huge is left unfinished and unused. Such a waste of money, time, and effort. And yes, it really IS darn ugly… I wished that someone will get to blow it up and be done with it, put it out of its misery.

Well, the chaka jaka building will be no more.  No, they won’t blow it up.  It is getting a new lease on life.  The building is finally getting ‘pimped’ up!  And I thought this day will never come:

The owners were able to sell it for 1.2 B pesos to Alphaland Corp early this year (info source: inquirer) . Not a bad deal, eh? I mean for the former owners. As far as i know, the residents of Ecology Village won a court petition in the 80’s to stop the further contruction of the building since it was just too close to their place of residence and would pose as a hazard (am not sure how but that’s what happened).  Have they forgotten about this fight? What do they have to say about this now? Will Alphaland inherit the headaches brought about by this building from its former owners?