If you've been a reader for quite a while, you'd already know how much I love Japanese food fare. Whether it be traditional, modern or even foreign-influenced, Japanese cuisine has a distinct taste that never fails to tickle my taste buds. And with my hearty appetite on tow, I tried a Japanese-Western gem in Greenbelt 2, Ma Maison.
Brought by The Bistro Group, Ma Maison which was founded in Nagoya, Japan back in 1976, is a restaurant specializing in Yoshoku or Japan-ized western dishes. With a distinctly European-sounding name, Ma Maison literally translates to “my home” in French. And staying true to its homey promise, its dining space has a cozy and laid-back atmosphere, dim ambient lighting and country kitschy charm.
I've eaten in a few Japanese-Western restaurants already, but Ma Maison definitely made me more excited with its plastic food display featuring some of my favorite Yoshoku food fare -- omu-rice, Napolitan spaghetti, tonkatsu and kani cream croquette.
The Meal Starters
I'm not so sure if Ms. Mitzi of The Bistro Group is a telepath, but it definitely made me giddy when I saw the selection of appetizers and salad they brought out for the tasting.
We first had a plate of Camembert Cheese Fritters (P385), deep-fried beer-battered slices of strong-flavored Camembert cheese served with honey vinaigrette. Being a cheese lover, this appetizer made me one happy gal especially with its harmonious blend of sweet and tangy, and crispy and gooey.
We then sampled an order of Japanese-Style Deep-Fried Chicken Wings (P245) also served with a honey vinaigrette. And with tons of chicken wing joints sprouting around the Metro, I can definitely say that Ma Maison's is one of the best I've had -- sweet, savory and oh-so-succulent tender chicken meat with super crispy skin.
Some may not be fond of snails, but the Escargot Baked with Garlic Butter (P385) is definitely a fancy treat. Servers bring out this luxurious French hors d'oeuvre followed by a lighting ceremony. And while putting the metal plate on fire is only for the show, it made me more excited to eat this savory appetizer. A tip though, dip the snail meat into the butter sauce to make it even more flavorful.
After a very European start, we then tried the Chasoba Salad (P425), a house specialty with cold green tea soba, egg, ham, tomatoes and cucumber with Japanese mayonnaise and sesame dressing. This very light and neutral-tasting salad is quite refreshing, but a little tiring on the taste buds. I guess I'm still not used to eating it without tsuyu.
The Main Entrées
Although we've already had really delectable appetizers, we haven't fully started our dinner yet. So after whetting our appetites, we then moved on to the main course.
To start off, we had a serving of piping hot Curry Udon (P325) -- an ensemble of thick wheat-flour noodle, bean curd, leeks and fish cakes swimming in a hearty and slightly spicy curry soup, and served in a cast iron bowl. And although I'm not too fond of noodle dishes, this is one of my favorites for the night.
We also had a serving of Kani Cream Croquette (P375), deep-fried breadcrumbed rolls of crab meat and potatoes drenched in Japanese mayonnaise and served with potato salad and shredded cabbage on the side. You may think this is just a simple dish, but it's crispy on the outside and smooth, creamy and very flavorful on the inside.
We also got to try the Scotch Egg (P375), a plateful of hard-boiled eggs wrapped with minced beef and pork sitting atop a bed of special miso-based brown sauce. Although I love hard-boiled eggs in general, I didn't go gaga for this one. However, it was another story for the Tonkatsu (P375) -- Wafu-style crispy breaded pork loin cutlet that goes beautiful with salt and mustard.
For some carbs, we had a serving of Omu-Rice (P255) -- ketchup rice enclosed in a fluffy omelette served with beautiful peacock-designed brown sauce on the side. I know omu-rice is such an easy-to-do Japanese-Western dish, but this one is still a staple whenever I go to Euro-Japanese restaurants.
Another one of my favorites when in a Yoshoku restaurant is Hamburg Steak (P375) -- a patty of minced beef and pork, topped with a beautiful sunny side up egg, and finished off with a sweet and savory brown sauce. This Euro-Japanese dish is definitely one succulent meaty treat that I'll never get tired of eating.
Ma Maison only has five dessert items on its menu, but it's definitely quality over quantity as all five are very unique and can't easily be found in other restaurants.
We first tried the Frozen Green Tea Brazo de Marcedez (P325), a 4-layered dessert of egg meringue, green tea ice cream, custard cream and graham crust. Seriously, this is one of the best desserts I've had in my entire life! There was a nice balance of sweet and distinctive green tea flavors, as well as a great combination of fluffy and crumbly textures.
We also sampled the White Chocolate Mixed White Tart (P195), a dessert of sweet pastry crust layered with white chocolate cream and topped with slices of orange, kiwi and grapes. Although I generally like tarts, this one was too sweet for me. The white chocolate cream was quite overwhelming that even the citrus flavors of the fruits weren't able to balance the sweetness out.
Dinner this bounty can never go on without a refreshing drink on the side. So while enjoying our Japanese-Western feast, we also got to try Ma Maison's specialty drinks.
The Green Tea Citrus (P125) which was my choice of beverage for the night, is a light, slightly tangy and clean-tasting drink perfect to cool down or to help cleanse away strong flavors. The Aloe Vera Apple (P125) on the other hand, has a more subtle flavor than the first drink. It tasted strongly of apple juice with small aloe vera bits.
Being part of The Bistro Group, it was already expected that food items were on the pricier side. However, like other chains under the same group, the quality of food was excellent. Every dish we had at Ma Maison was how I imagined Japanese-Western food is done in Japan. Actually, what I had for that night even exceeded my expectations.
With a wide selection of superb quality dishes, a set of courteous and friendly staff, and a very cozy and charming space, I'm looking forward to pay Ma Maison, my Japanese-Western home, another visit soon.
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Ma Maison, Greenbelt 2
G/F Greenbelt 2, Esperanza St.,
Makati City, Metro Manila