Japanese food is one of my absolute favorites, although I must admit that I’m still not very well versed on it. For instance, I have no idea what they’re yelling at me in unison when I first walk into a Japanese restaurant (I can only guess they’re yelling something like, “Oh no, here he comes again – the small tipper!”) I also don’t know what I’m supposed to do with that warm washcloth they bring to the table – whether it’s for my hands, my whole face, neck, scalp, or if I can take a whole sponge bath right at the table with it. Lastly, the items on the menu all sort of look the same – which is to say they look amazing – but I don’t know the individual kinds of fish or what each dish is, etc. (it’s all Japanese to me). So I usually just end up pointing to the sashimi platter and ordering, and am very happy with that. I’m still learning, and that’s half of the fun when it comes to eating sushi or Japanese food.

Why Mifune Wasn’t Up To Par

But I do know the quality of food and how something is supposed to taste, as well as general standards for a restaurant and what is a good or bad experience. So I’m super disappointed to report that Mifune in Dumaguete is just not that good. It’s too bad because it has a chance to shine, too – there really aren’t many Japanese restaurants in Dumaguete, a small but thriving city of about 500,000 by the sea in the Philippines. Sure, we have 100 Korean restaurants, but there are only a few from the island of Nippon, and Mifune is definitely the most prominent.

First, the good news. The location is great, on the well-traveled but not too busy street that runs parallel to popular Rizal Boulevard. They have a couple of tables out front in the shade if you’d like to sit outside. It’s also comfortable enough inside, although small. I find the staff to be great, too, which goes a long way for me. The waitresses there are busy and hard working but still take time to stop and chat or make suggestions, and remember you when you come back. It often gets busy in there all at once (because of their promotions), so they have to hustle, but they’re still more attentive and caring than the average Philippines waitstaff.

Now, the reality. Mifune just isn’t that good. It’s not like the fish they use is rancid or anything, but it’s a little bland and tasteless, and therefore I suspect a lot of its been frozen. Like I said, I’m a sashimi guy, but ordering a sashimi platter or even entrée there will leave you insulted. They cut the fish so thin that you can practically see through it, an attempt to give you less and save money. I know they’re being cheap with it because they put any serving on a bad of white cabbage stuff that takes up half the plate, trying to deceive you into thinking you are getting a full meal when the portions are really minuscule.

They have some all you can eat happy hour specials or something for sushi but they are 9/10 rice, and if there is a tiny cube of tuna in there, you can barely see it and not even taste it. You might be better off with their Bento boxes for lunch, which have enough food because they’re not sashimi or sushi, but it’s still a little overpriced for Dumaguete and what you’re getting. The word is that Mifune used to be great – until they got a new Filipino owner, who is trying to short the foreign customers and make every dollar he can. At least, until they go out of business, in my opinion.

Instead of coming here, check out the Lab-as Restaurant review.  You’ll find something better.

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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