Watami: Japanese Casual Restaurant at SM Mall of Asia

As a big fan of Japanese cuisine, I was super excited to hear the news that Watami has finally arrived in the Philippines. With over 700 branches all over the world, Watami is actually Japan's number one casual-dining restaurant, and I'm just glad that The Bistro Group has brought them in with branches at SM Mall of Asia and The New Glorietta Mall.
Watami SM Mall of Asia Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant SM MOA

For a casual-dining restaurant, Watami sure knows how to be simple yet still sophisticated at the same time. The brown main color scheme may not look flashy, but the ceiling, floors and furnishings spell nothing short of elegant. The spacious restaurant will also successfully invite you in with a promise of comfort and your needed privacy. While the dining space is big, tables and chairs are arranged in booths and banquettes.

Aside from the enticing ambiance at Watami, another thing that left me a good impression is their extensive menu. Although most Japanese casual-dining restaurants in the country have a lot to offer, Watami can easily compete with its 16-page long menu.

The Starters

Assorted Sashimi (5 Kinds) P425

To start off our Japanese lunch feast, we had the Assorted Sashimi - 5 Kinds (P425). A single serving may not be sufficient for someone as sashimi-crazy as me and the beau, but these pieces of tuna sashimi, salmon sashimi, fatty salmon sashimi, scallop sashimi and amaebi sashimi are some of the freshest catches I've ever had. I give them a bonus point too for offering not just one, but two kinds of salmon sashimi.

Watami Salad P350

To further whet the palate, we had the Watami Salad (P350) -- a colorful ensemble of assorted salad vegetables with chicken teriyaki, shrimps, nori and corn kernels topped with flying fish roe and Watami's special salad dressing. Even just on the bowl, this salad looks sumptuous, and more so upon tasting. Every forkful I had was exploding with both savory and refreshing flavors. This is definitely a must-order for all of you, salad lovers.

Crispy Chicken Wings P195

While I'd usually skip chicken as an appetizer, these Crispy Chicken Wings (P195) kept me munching while waiting for the other dishes. Despite looking fairly common even with its sweet sesame sauce, this serving is actually one of the restaurant's bestsellers. I'm not so sure if these wings are double-fried, but they're crispy on the outside yet moist and flavorful on the inside -- something both the kids and even the kids at heart will love.

Assorted Skewers P295

We also got to try the Assorted Skewers (P295) which consists of chicken wings skewer, chicken breast skewer, beef and spring onion roll skewer, chicken thigh skewer and pork and enoki mushroom skewer (which I just posted a recipe of). I didn't get to personally try everything on this plate, but my companions said what they had was satisfying -- a little sweet and savory like how traditional yakitori should be.

The Teppan

Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki P295

One of my favorite Japanese items are okonomiyaki, so I was very excited to find out that the restaurant offers the Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki (P295) -- Japanese-style pancakes with shredded cabbage, beansprouts, shrimps and noodles, topped with generous amounts of bonito flakes. Just one bite from this Japanese teppan dish, and I already fell in love. It was flavorful and savory, without being overbearing for the palate.

Tonpeiyaki (Pork, Cheese, Cabbage & Egg) P275

Another winner in my books is the Tonpeiyaki - Pork, Cheese, Cabbage & Egg (P275) which was cooked perfectly. The Japanese omelette was soft yet slightly firm to the bite, with hints of crunch from the shredded cabbage. The pork and cheese on the other hand, along with the green onion toppings and blend of Japanese mayo and okonomiyaki sauce gave way for a sweet, salty and savory explosion of goodness.

The Pizzas

Pizza Topped with Chicken Teriyaki P275

Even with teppan selections on the menu, I was surprised to see that they also offer pizzas. The first we had was the Pizza Topped with Chicken Teriyaki (P275). Although I found it a little disturbing that they didn't name this dish, I was actually quite impressed with the taste. The tasty chicken teriyaki gave some sweetness and savor to the distinct pizza flavor we know. And with a crispy thin crust to hold them all together, I'm sold.

Bolognese Pizza P315
Bolognese Pizza when cut

The other, more interesting pizza we got was the Bolognese Pizza (P315) which had a poached egg on top. While the pizza itself is already savory on its own, the egg which our server cracked when slicing, added a subtle creamy goodness to the whole ensemble. This is truly a unique pizza flavor you shouldn't miss when you visit Watami.

The Hotpot

Beef Sukiyaki P365

To make our dining experience more Japanese, we made sure not to miss the classic and all-time favorite Beef Sukiyaki (P365). Served raw in a bowl, the beef pieces, greens, tofu, enokitake, shitake and carrots all looked divine. Our server then assisted us with cooking this Japanese hotpot in a delicately sweet and flavorful broth.

Beef Sukiyaki Cooked

It didn't take long before our Beef Sukiyaki was ready. We just added in a raw egg on top, and this hot bowl was ready to be served. Everyone in our table seemed to have really enjoyed this hearty soup dish. Even I who isn't a big fan of sukiyaki can't deny that I loved my fill. Every spoonful and every sip was meaty, hearty and just pure comfort food.

The Rice Bowls

Pork Rice with Egg Yolk in Stone Pot P225

For carbs, we had the Pork Rice with Egg Yolk in Stone Pot (P225). This rice dish somehow reminded me strongly of a gyudon (beef), except that this is a butadon (pork). With raw egg in the mix though, one shouldn't let the stone pot cool without mixing everything together. And once thoroughly mixed, this becomes a delicious bowl of slightly sweet and savory Japanese pork rice enough to fill two diners, or one hungry customer.

Pork Cutlet with Scrambled Egg in Tokyo Style P295

We also had the Pork Cutlet with Scrambled Egg in Tokyo Style (P295) which is basically a katsudon -- deep-fried pork cutlet on top of silky scrambled eggs sitting on steaming white rice with tonkatsu sauce. While I'm honestly not a fan of katsudon, I quite liked this rice dish. It's very straight-forward with crispy pork and creamy eggs done right.

Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot P190

And then we had the Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot (P190), the less expensive and probably the most simple among the three rice dishes we had, yet it's my most favorite rice dish of all, and one of my most favorite items in Watami. And although I still love my Pepper Lunch, there's no denying that this serving puts up a really tough competition with a bowlful of intense savory and peppery flavors, and a good price. I can definitely foresee myself ordering this rice bowl again and again and again in my next Watami visits.

The Desserts & Drinks

Chocolate Parfait P195 Maccha Tiramisu P155

For dessert, we enjoyed the Chocolate Parfait (P195) which had scoops of chocolate and vanilla ice cream drizzled in chocolate syrup and then topped with whipped cream, chocolate wafer sticks and almonds. It was nothing special, but quite a good treat since my initial order, the Maccha Ice Cream & Anmitsu Dupling (P175) wasn't available.

I also got to sample the Maccha Tiramisu (P155) which was surprisingly really good. The mid and bottom layers were creamy and sweet, the perfect base for the bold flavor of the unsweetened maccha powder covering the top of the glass. While I totally loved this dessert to bits, those who don't fancy maccha like the beau should be a little wary.

Milky Green Tea P165 Mango Yakult P120

As for our drinks, I got the Milky Green Tea (P165) -- a slightly sweet but more creamy refreshing ice-blended milk tea beverage with hints of maccha flavor. The beau on the other hand, enjoyed his sweet, tart and refreshing Mango Yakult (P120) -- the perfect choice of a beverage for a mango fruit and Yakult lover.

THE VERDICT

Everything we had at Watami, from the appetizers, teppan, pizzas, hotpot, rice bowls, desserts and even the drinks were all of great quality. And what's even better is the pricing! Although I can't say they're all priced fairly low, being under The Bistro Group umbrella, Watami has one of the most reasonably-priced menus. And with a very posh ambiance, it's a perfect Japanese casual-dining restaurant for families, friends, colleagues and even couples who just want to enjoy good Japanese comfort food.

I guess my only complaint was the really slow service during our visit. I understand that Watami in SM Mall of Asia was still on soft opening back then. However, I hope service now has already improved as The Bistro Group is known for its great service.

Taste - 4/5
Ambiance - 4.5/5
Service - 3/5
Price - 4/5
Overall Value - 4/5


Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant, SM Mall of Asia
2/F Entertainment Mall, SM Mall of Asia,
Ocean Dr. Manila Bay Reclamation Area,
Pasay City, Metro Manila
Philippines
(02) 836-7141
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32 comments:

  1. OH MY GOD! I'm going there ASAP! Like this Friday na! As you know, I am a huge fan of Jap food and my god, this place sounds like heaven to me! I want to try EVERYTHING you featured here! The salad and the pepper beef rice in particular loook sooooo tasty!!!! YUMMY!!!!

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  2. Thanks for a nice and simple review Sumi :-) Creating a list of where to go for my b-day next month :-)

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  3. wow!! Watami!I'd like to try this soon :D im sure my fiance would love to eat here :)

    Rovie The Bargain Doll :)

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  4. Another great find. The food all look so mouthwatering!

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  5. I was just thinking about Watami this morning. I miss this place! :)


    http://www.dekaphobe.com/

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  6. Watami is the first restaurant I ate at in Japan. I'm glad they're finally here! Love their beef pepper rice... tastier and cheaper than Pepper Lunch's!

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  7. The Pizza and the Okonomiyaki are so tempting! ♥ Makes me crave for a Japanese food! :D

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  8. I'd love to go in there the next time I'll be going at MOA because it seems that it has an authentic Japanese dishes! :D

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  9. now im craving for some japanese food and katsudon also! my fave!! indeed the resturant looks very elegant too xx

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  10. never heard of watami before but ill definitely visit this soon!

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  11. I'd go for Pepper Beef Rice in a Stone Pot! Everything looks delicious!

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  12. Ohlalala! I regret visiting this site at this time of the day: 1PM and I didn't have lunch yet! Gosh, my stomach is now growling! LOL. I love Japanese foods. I hope to visit this place someday! :D

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  13. I wish i have gone to Mall of Asia the last time I visit Philippines which I've stayed in Manila by This mall for one day last year. I never been to that mall...maybe next time...because the food looks so delicious!!! yum!

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  14. fancy restaurant and delicious food is something that we want to experience. I am so drooling at those food you got there, makes me even more hungry right now, i didn't eat my lunch yet

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  15. oh my! the food presentation is really awesome...looking at them makes me hungry.

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  16. I love Japanese and I see lots of things I like. Hope I get to try this soon! :)

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  17. Wanna try their beef pepper rice!

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  18. I love Japanese Food!!! :D

    And everything looks absolutely delish! I was literally craving while scrolling down and reading your post! :P

    I'd definitely try out their Chicken Teriyaki topped pizza, I love Japanese food and Pizza, so what can be better than Japanese food on pizza, right? :P

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  19. The food looks so delicious and appetizing, never tried a lot of Japanese food yet.

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  20. I love the Tonpeiyaki and the Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot at Watami!

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  21. I haven't tried that yet but I would love to. I hope I can drop by to this restaurant this weekend. All the servings look delectable.

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  22. japanese foods are really awesome, looks tempting but i'm on a diet, ha ha

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  23. i love this post -- the photos are great & looks yummy

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  24. I haven't had any Japanese in a long time. Those crispy chicken wings look so tempting.

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  25. The Hiroshima-Style Okonomiyaki caight my eye. Yummy

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  26. i see a lot of blogs about Watami..now, my taste buds is really getting curious..=)

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  27. My wife loves Japanese foods and we often visit MOA. I think she'll love it here.

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  28. I could never say no in jap cuisine. the Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot looks delish! ♥

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  29. Yay! Oishi.. craving for this delicious japanese food!

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