Puerto Princesa’s Tadzmaki Sushi Asian Fusion welcomes the Year of the Rabbit

Tadzmaki’s Maki platter.

From the week of the Chinese New Year to Valentine’s Day to Easter, dishes to bring in good luck, romance and even spirituality, in this case seafood and vegetarian dishes, are most likely to fill the dining table, whether at home or in restaurants.

Vacationers to Puerto Princesa, as well as the residents of this city known for its commitment to environmental conservation and protection, can enjoy the best Japanese delicacies whether they are celebrating an occasion or simply craving a delicious fill of something Asian, including Thai, Korean, and Filipino, in Tadzmaki Sushi Asian Restaurant, with outlets at SM Puerto Princesa and Robinsons Place Palawan.

It is this hankering for the different, the novel, that is at the same time oriental that Adrian “Tadz” Coronacion, a former chef in an international cruise ship, chose to address in the Puerto Princesa dining scene.

Daily Tribune is proud to share an interview with Tadz, who has been a dear friend of  this writer from way back when this rising chef had just begun his career as an ace basketball player in the Palawan State University.

Growing up in a family that owned a karinderya, Tadz early on assisted his mother in the kitchen, although he was more of a kibitzer and who hung around in the kitchen for the free taste. Having his fill of all the delicious Filipiniana fare contributed to his sturdy physical assets, as well as dexterity in basketball, at which he excelled and for which he became a local sports idol. Today, his fame comes from introducing Japanese cuisine to the general populace, one that is affordable, tasty, and authentic.

Maki as flagship offering
DT: How did you arrive at the name of your restaurant, Tadzmaki Sushi Asian Restaurant?
Adrian “Tadz” Coronacion (ATC): Tadz is my nickname and Maki was my flagship offering when I started the business back in 2014.

DT: What was your experience in operating an eatery before you started Tadzmaki?
ATC: Before Tadzmaki my brother Adam and I had a small dining area at my older sister’s lot. It was called Damaki Catering. I am proud to say we introduced Japanese cuisine to the locals of Puerto Princesa. Our initial offerings were maki, sushi, and sashimi and other Asian dishes.

Natural-born cooks
DT: What can one order in Tadzmaki? What are your top recommendations to your clients and guests?
ATC: We specialize in Asian dishes. Our Japanese mainstays are maki, sushi, sashimi, ramen, tempura, teriyaki, katsudon, misono (Japanese). Our Korean dishes include bibimbap, chapchae, and kimchi; Pad Thai from Thailand. Of our Filipino fare, the bestsellers are lechon kawali, dinuguan, and fried chicken.
We recommend our Japanese food. We swear by their authenticity while our loyal clients tick off their taste, presentation and genuineness as their top reasons for ordering them again and again.

DT: You are the chef and owner. Tell me about your training as a chef who specializes in Japanese cuisine.

ATC: Mine is not the usual story of someone who attended a culinary school and then opened a restaurant. Instead, I learned from my own family, from my mother, my sisters, and brothers because they are all naturally-born kusineros or cooks. We had a small carinderia when I was a child.

I honed my cooking skills when I became a seaman. I was appointed as mayor or the one who handled the ship’s kitchen. I prepared food for everyone. Since I was serving people who came from various parts of the world, I had to learn their respective native dishes. Of course, before I was allowed to cook, I trained with the senior cooks who were already knowledgeable on international cuisine.

Photographs courtesy of Tadz Coronacion
Adrian ‘Tadz’ Coronacion, owner of Tadzmaki.

Manifesting his dreams
DT: Since you had an eatery, was becoming a restaurateur a childhood ambition?
ATC: As a young seaman, I kept a journal where I wrote my goals and plans in life. First, I declared that I wanted to have my own restaurants. Then, a piggery and then, a pension house. So, to this day, whenever I am resting, I would look at my old journal. I believe in manifesting one’s dreams to turn them into reality.

Then, as a seaman, I enjoyed the privilege of traveling and visiting different countries, with Japan turning out to be my favorite, along with other Asian countries. So, whenever we visited Asia, I would sample the country’s famous dishes and jot down my observations based on how they tasted to me. I would befriend cooks and chefs, and they would share with me their recipes and culinary secrets. They would demonstrate to me how to prepare the dishes their own country or region are known for. At the same time, I read recipe books and watched chefs on YouTube. That’s how I learned without having to matriculate in a school. It was the fastest and most practical way without going on leave from my work.

First to offer Asian dishes
DT: Why did you choose to come home to Palawan and start your business?
ATC: I had to. And I wanted to. I wanted to settle in my own hometown, Puerto Princesa City, with my family. While I was enjoying the travel part of my job and learning about the food of other places, there were times when I felt very lonely. It was hard to be away from my family.  At a certain point, I decided it was time to fulfill my dreams and so I came home.

DT: Tell me about your first venture both in PPC and El Nido. In what way did you succeed? What were the challenges?
ATC: Doing business in my hometown is superb. It is fun. As I look back, I am happy I did it. Locals really liked the concept from day one since we were the first to offer Asian dishes in town. And no competitors.

Fascinated by wasabi and sushi
DT: What makes Japanese cuisine a big hit?
ATC: I guess Japanese food is more interesting. Our clients are fascinated, too, by some of its elements, like wasabi or maki rolls or raw fish for sushi. Of course, the use of chopsticks is a novelty to many. Our clients love the drama that comes with Japanese cuisine.

DT: What plates do you offer for big parties from 20 to 50? Do you also cater to parties?
ATC: We offer bilao or party platter for big groups. Although it’s not our priority, we cater if there’s a need. We can also make special arrangements should party hosts need chairs, flowers, cake, and other amenities.

DT: If you were to cater to a buffet for 100 people, what menu would you recommend?
ATC: The sushi corner is number one in our list. Then, the client can choose from our party packages, which range from P550 per pax to P1,050 per pax. We also engage in events styling, including the entertainment part.

DT: How would you describe local diners? What is their demographic profile? Do you have packages for specific categories, like teenagers, or senior citizens, middle or high income, and so on?
ATC:  Our edge is we can customize to suit the age of party guests, whether they are senior citizens or teenagers or children, or a mixed group like families. We also consider varied budgets and our selection is wide. With a small budget, one can choose from among 129 rice bowls, and each comes with a drink.  When it comes to walk-in diners, they can come solo or they can be friends, or they can be one big group, like the whole chapter of a club.

Mixed maki platter
DT: Of all the come-ons, what is the best reason for dining at Tadzmaki?
ATC: Aside from a photo opportunity with me? Just kidding. Seriously, Tadzmaki is a must-try restaurant for Puerto Princesa residents, as well as tourists. Besides, we just don’t do our best to serve high-quality food, we also give back to the community.

DT: What are your offerings for the Chinese New Year celebration from 21 to 28 January? What about this coming February, the month of lovers?
ATC: For the family, we have the mixed maki platter which starts at P560 only.  Of course, they can upgrade to a bigger platter.

DT: What is in your wish list for this coming Year of the Rabbit?
ATC: I wish for the whole Tadzmaki family, its management and staff, business partners, and supporters to be financially stable and healthy in mind and body. I wish for more branches to come.

DT: Who do you wish to thank for your continuing success?
ATC: I would like to thank my family for standing beside me. My business partners, too, for the trust they have given me. I should like to make special mention of Ryan and Karla, who extended their financial support without any hesitation, neither any selfish motive.

DT: Where do you see yourself and Tadzmaki 10 years from now?
ATC: I see myself willing and able to stand up for our dreams. And with the help of my partners, a number of franchises in various parts.

DT: How do you intend to achieve your goals?
ATC: For now, we will keep focusing on the next goal which is franchising and to establish Tadzmaki outside the city.  We have quite a number of goals for the next 10 years. I ask our friends to join us in manifesting those goals. Laban lang tayo araw-araw. Puwede mapagod at magpahinga (Let’s keep going from day to day. If we get tired, we can always rest). But we must never ever surrender.

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