Dining Destination: Yabu (House of Katsu)

1:30 PM

This 2012, I thought of getting my boyfriend JR more involved in my blog (other than taking my photos). I like his writing style and I believe he has a lot to say when it comes to a variety of topics. This year, expect him to do a couple of guest blogs for me every now and then.



True to its slogan, Yabu has chosen to focus on katsu, described as a “sliced piece of meat that is breaded and fried.” To help them in their effort, they have hired an expert consultant in all things battered and deep fried by the name of Chef Kazuya Takeda to teach their chefs how to prepare the most delicious katsu dishes. Chef Takeda is the head chef of Tonkatsu Takeshin, a popular tonkatsu restaurant in Japan, and someone who definitely knows how to make really good katsu dishes.


The interior of the restaurant has a very interesting design. One side of the place is decorated with wooden cups used for drinking Sake. The other side is decorated with some manga, depicting a katsu related story. Other parts of the room have shelves decorated with rows of sake bottles. I wish I could say more, but I know nothing about interior design so I'll go straight to the food instead.


Being treated to a meal makes me evoke the Filipino “hiya” in me. I’d usually go for the biggest and tastiest dish on the menu, but I’d convince myself to find some compromise and instead, find the sweet spot between reasonably tasty and affordable. This time though, I just had to go for the best item in the menu. It was just too tantalizing to pass up. The item in question was the ”Kurobuta,” premium pork sourced from the Berkshire pig and said to be the “Kobe beef” of pork. From what I know of Kobe beef, I bet these Berkshire pigs were pampered, fed the best grains, massaged frequently to loosen the muscles and given a generally stress free life in order to generate the highest quality meat. Melai on the other hand ordered the Tiger Prawn Katsu.



As we were waiting for our dish, we were given an amusing distraction to pass the time away. Small bowls of sesame seed were served and the waiter instructed us to grind the seeds by swirling our wooden mortar along the inside of the ridged bowl to release their aroma before pouring the katsu sauce over them.



The appetizers were the first to arrive. We had the wakame (seaweed) and the potato salad. I’ve never had any good experience eating seaweed in the past, the only apt description I could muster about their taste is “lasang dagat.” Fortunately, the wakame was pretty good. There was a certain savoriness to the dish that had my chopsticks digging into it frequently. The potato salad was one of the best I’ve had. It was extra creamy and had a hint of wasabe in it to give it some kick.


Our dishes finally arrived and they were pretty hefty. All meal sets come with miso soup, rice, pickled vegetables, fruits and sliced cabbage. The pork in the kurobuta is noticeably thicker than the pork katsus served in other Japanese restaurants. I took the first bite without the sauce, to get a better taste and feel of the dish, and I was impressed. The kurobuta was very soft and succulent, a testament to the elite pedigree and the fine upbringing of the pigs this dish was sourced from. After years of eating regular pork katsus, Yabu’s kurobuta definitely raised the bar a lot higher.

Kurobuta

Melai’s shrimp katsu was pretty good as well, though in my opinion, the shrimp to breading ratio seemed to lean too much into the latter. I’d also wish they had tempura sauce to go with it.

Tiger Prawn Katsu

The sliced cabbage was a really big surprise. I’m not much of a vegetable eater and was a bit disappointed to learn that they gave unlimited servings only for the cabbage, not the rice. Paired with the sesame dressing, it became a delicious and refreshing counterpart to the fried katsus. During the course of the meal, I've had two whole refills for the cabbage and if it weren’t for the limited space and elasticity of my belly, I’d definitely would’ve had more. Just thinking about it makes me want to come back to Yabu, and when I say that about a vegetable, that is saying a lot!

The service was pretty good. The waiters were always attentive, refilling our glasses with more water and taking away empty plates and bowls. They took the time to answer our questions like when we were asking them about condiments on the table and/or asking about how to do the katsu sauce making ritual. Once the restaurant filled up, it did take some effort to call their attention, but with them being busy with all the customers around, it was very much forgivable.


I admit, the price is a little too high to make this a regular lunch time affair. But Yabu isn’t just a place to fill your belly during those thirty minute lunch breaks. In Yabu, you should just sit back and relax and enjoy their various gastronomic delights. Yabu is a experience one should indulge in from time to time, a place to celebrate or to share special moments with friends and family, a place that I’ll definitely be coming back to soon. (c) JR Espejo 2012
*****

When I got invited by Ms.Isay from Yabu to try the newly opened restaurant that everyone was raving about, I brought JR along for a date. JR loves to eat and he was very much delighted with Yabu and so am I. This food review is the best debut for JR's series of guest blogs for my site. Hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did! 


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3 comments

  1. I'm so jealous that you got invited! Everyone's been raving about Yabu so much! I love Japanese food a lot so I'm definitely going to check this place out soon.

    And oh, I'm so happy you took a photo of the wall! The one who made the art is actually a friend of ours :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing pictures! The food looks so delicious too! ♥XOXO

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh gosh, Melai, your boyfriend's such a great writer! :) Natakam ako with the Yabu photos!! *_* Wanna try there out soon!

    Xoxo,
    Arnie
    http://arnievillanueva.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

I appreciate anything you have to say. Thanks for dropping by. It means so much to me. Love, Melai

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