Before 2011 drew to a close, I was able to try Yabu: House of Katsu located in SM Megamall The Atrium. In fact, my first experience at the katsu destination was quite memorable that it made the sixth place in my Top 10 list of food and drink spots for 2011. And after over 7 months of missing Yabu, I finally got to visit the restaurant yet again.
This time, I got lucky as I've won Yabu's Father's Day Promo on their Facebook Page. I planned to use it for the special day itself so my dad can also get a taste of Yabu's soft and juicy katsu, as well as try the new dishes they now offer. However, since only 3 winners were allowed to claim their prize per day and I wasn't one of the first 3 to reserve a spot, we just celebrated Father's Day at Shi Lin instead. It wasn't until last week that I (with the beau) finally got to claim my prize, but all the waiting was definitely worth it.
Unlike my first trip to the restaurant, Yabu now has a bigger dining space providing more comfort to guests. And just like my last visit, we were first given sesame seeds for grinding which I enjoy doing. We were still pouring some Bulldog-branded tonkatsu sauce on our pounded sesame seeds when our server Jhun, delivered us two glasses of Bottomless Lemonade (P80) and a container of our Duo of Appetizers (P195).
We were given my favorite Potato Salad and a bowl of healthy Edamame. Being a potato lover, it was nice that I got to taste Yabu's creamy and flavorful potato salad again. It tasted just like how I remembered it, and I think I've loved it even more.
The Edamame was also a nice snack to munch while we wait for our sets. These boiled young green soybeans were addicting and I just loved peeling the beans off from the pod. The date didn't enjoy them quite as much, but that's great news. More beans for me!
Yabu Special Katsu Set
I've actually won a prize good for 3 people, but with a tandem of me and my date, no amount of food can be too much to handle. So when our server brought out the main dishes starting with a Yabu Special Katsu Set, it was time to put our game faces on.
We were specifically given the Rosu Special Katsudon (P330), a bowl of sauced-rice and pork loin tonkatsu topped with a sunny side-up egg, bonito flakes and nori strips. This also comes with miso soup, unlimited cabbage shreds, Japanese pickles and fruit slices.
I love the Rosu Tonkatsu Set (P315) I've had for my last trip, but I can definitely say that this bowl of Rosu Special Katsudon is as good, if not better. The tonkatsu slices were tender and succulent, while the breading is still as crunchy as I remember. One edge it has compared to the plain tonkatsu set though is the yummy combination of rice, tonkatsu sauce, bonito flakes, nori and fried egg. Although it looked quite messy in the bowl, mixing everything together can bring out a lovely combination of savory flavors.
Katsu Curry Set
The date and I have agreed to share all 3 sets. But of course, we ended up finishing a set on our own. So while he willingly let me devour the Rosu Special Katsudon, he decided to have the Katsu Curry Set even though he's not generally too fond of curry.
We were given the Chicken Katsu Curry (P320), an old item at Yabu of breaded chicken slices, potatoes, carrots and curry sauce atop a serving of steaming white rice. Like the other sets in the resto, this serving is also inclusive of a hot bowl of miso soup, unlimited cabbage shreds and pickles, with some watermelon and pineapple slices.
I have to admit that I'm not a fan of curry dishes too, but Yabu's curry isn't as spicy or as overbearing of a curry flavor than most curry dishes I've tried. You'll still get that distinct curry taste, but in a nice moderation for the palate. The chicken katsu on the other hand, is tender albeit not as juicy as pork. But in the end, the beau surprisingly liked his set.
Mixed Seafood Katsu Set
Third on our table was the new Seafood Katsu Set offering at Yabu. And since both the date and I are big seafood lovers, we decided to finish this set together, fifty-fifty.
We were specifically served with the Seafood Katsu Set 1 (P485), a seafood feast of breaded black tiger prawn, cream dory, scallop, oyster and squid, served with karashi (Japanese mustard) and a garlic mayo dip. Of course, this set also comes with unlimited cabbage shreds, steamed Japanese rice, miso soup, Japanese pickles and fruit slices.
With the breading, it was quite hard to tell which is the oyster and which is the scallop. And unfortunately, I first got a taste of the oyster. Although I generally love oysters, especially fresh ones, it was a little weird eating an oyster katsu. The crispy breading was enjoyable to munch, but the soft and slightly gooey texture of the oyster didn't really give a good contrast. The scallop on the other hand was good, but I'd rather eat it without the breading to fully enjoy it. Although I didn't have a good start with this set, I really enjoyed the squid and cream dory katsus as the breading suited them very well. And while I expected the breading to go perfect with the prawn, it was a little hard for the bite.
From what I know, Yabu still doesn't offer dessert items as of the moment. However, since it was stated that there'll be one dessert included in my prize, we were given a choice of Chocolate Lava or Selecta Magnum Bar. Of course, since I've already had Magnum before (and I can easily get it from 7-Eleven), I decided to go with the former.
Our Chocolate Lava came in with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. And although it might look a little small, it's definitely one sweet and chocolatey dessert perfect to cap off a hearty Yabu meal. The chocolate lava cake is really moist and has a rich dark chocolate flavor. I just loved eating it by itself, but if you want some cold sweetness to it like the beau, spoon some ice cream and let it blend with the warm choco goodness.
Like our first visit to Yabu, I was again satisfied with the restaurant's katsu offerings both portion-wise and taste-wise. Although I was confident the 2 of us can finish everything by ourselves, it turned out to be quite a struggle 'cause one set can already fill up one person. I was also glad that the dining space has been expanded. This way, there'll be enough tables and seats for hungry guests. In addition, I think the service have improved. Although the servers were very prompt in bringing out the orders even before, they now seem more friendly and less snooty. And lastly, thank you Yabu for the free meal!
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Yabu: House of Katsu, SM Megamall
2/F, SM Megamall The Atrium, Julia Vargas Ave.,
Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila