It's not a hidden fact that I love Japanese food. Sashimi, makimono, teriyaki and everything Japanese will surely satisfy me. However as much as I love J-cuisine, I can't seem to develop a liking for the breaded, deep-fried pork that is tonkatsu. But not until I've tried Yabu.
Yabu: House of Katsu is a new Japanese katsuretsu (cutlet) restaurant in SM Megamall The Atrium's 2nd floor. Since it opened its doors to hungry customers last November 11, it had been flocked by diners wanting quality katsu dishes. I had been reading tons of reviews and all of them (yes, all) are nothing but praises of how wonderful Yabu's katsu dishes are. So without hesitation, my date and I made our way to try out Yabu's offerings one weekday lunch.
I got to SM Megamall a few minutes after 1PM. Good thing my date hasn't arrived yet, since Yabu was jam-packed and we would've waited for free tables should my date have met me earlier. It was a few minutes past 1:30PM when my date finally came. Although there were still a lot of diners in the restaurant, we were courteously attended and seated.
I have already seen a lot of photos of Yabu's interior, but I took some shots too for my blog's sake. My date and I were seated at the right side of the room so I was able to enjoy the amusing manga (Japanese comics) on the left wall which detailed the quest for katsu.
On our side on the other hand, was a wall intricately made of wooden masu cups which are used for drinking sake. Talk about a well-executed creative resourcefulness here.
My date and I ordered their tonkatsu sets, along with a pair of their appetizers (P175 for any 2 from the appetizer selection). Before savoring any of Yabu's dishes, we were first given a small bowl each of sesame seeds for grinding.
I love the interactive feat that grinding your own sesame seeds gives. I enjoyed not only pounding on these seeds with my mini mortar, but I also love the unlocked aroma of these freshly ground sesame seeds. However, my date was not too happy to do anything tedious before eating. So after pounding them for a few times, he already poured in the Bulldog-branded tonkatsu sauce which is a famous Japanese brand of Worcestershire sauce.
It was not long before our appetizers were served next. I had the liberty to choose so I got two of my favorite appetizers/sidings -- Wakame and Potato Salad.
We first tried the Wakame which are cold seaweeds that came in strips. It was also topped with fish roe. Both my date and I agreed that this is delicious. The flavors of the seaweeds were nicely infused with a seemingly sesame sauce they had in it. It was a great appetizer worth returning for!
Since the appetizers came in pair, we also got to savor Yabu's Potato Salad.
I am a big potato eater, potato salads included, so I had a high expectation with Yabu's version. This bowl didn't fail me though. The Potato Salad was creamy and delicious. It also had a hint of wasabi which made the taste more interesting.
Even while we're just starting to dig into our appetizers, we were already served our tonkatsu sets. I ordered a 100g Hire (pork fillet) Tonkatsu Set (P295) for my date (since he doesn't have a clue of what he'd like to get) and a 90g Rosu (pork loin) Tonkatsu Set (P280) for myself.
Although I only got the smallest portion of Rosu, it was big enough for me. The breading was crunchy, while the inside holds true to its promise of being soft and juicy. The pork was really tender and moist, something I don't normally get when I eat tonkatsu at other casual dining restaurants.
My date also enjoyed his Hire. However upon tasting his tonkatsu, I felt like I got the better cut. Since the Hire cut doesn't have fats, it was not as juicy as the Rosu.
Our plates with the lovely breaded pork cutlet also came with unlimited shredded cabbage. (Yes, you've heard it right. Unlimited. Just ask the staff roaming around giving out more servings of shredded cabbage.)
The tonkatsu set comes with of course, a bowl of Japanese rice. Yabu's though even has black sesame seeds on top.
I would like to note that while I got a perfectly cooked Japanese rice, my date on the other hand, had some undercooked rice in his bowl. He didn't complain or anything, he didn't even tell me in all honesty. I found it out when I ate his rice leftover.
Each tonkatsu set also came with miso soup, a few pieces of pickles and a bowl of fruits.
The miso soup was good and had generous amounts of tofu and wakame. I find the dashi a little too overpowering though. On a side note, we were served everything without a spoon, and I teased my date that in Japan, you sip the soup straight from the bowl. I planned to do that to give our Yabu trip a taste of authentic Japanese dining. However, I chickened out so on with the spoon.
Since my date is not fond of pickles nor pineapples and even with watermelons, I ate his share. For this Yabu trip, I can say that I've eaten a lot! Most are my date's leftovers though.
I'm not a tonkatsu lover, but Yabu turned me into one. After this lunch at the House of Katsu, I realized that the reason why I'm not too fond of tonkatsu, is because I haven't eaten authentic Japanese katsus yet. Although Megamall is far from Japan, it gave me a taste of how a real Japanese tonkatsu should be like -- moist, tender and flavorful even without the sauce.
My Yabu experience wouldn't end here though as it has just begun. For my next Yabu trip, I'll definitely try their premium tonkatsu, the glorious kurobuta (Berkshire black pig).
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Yabu: House of Katsu, SM Megamall
2/F, SM Megamall, Julia Vargas Ave
Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila