Founded in Shinjuku, Tokyo back in 1966, Saboten is one of, if not, the largest tonkatsu chain in the world, with more than 500 branches all over Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Canada, and since last year, the Philippines. And while I haven't tried the first branch of Saboten in the Philippines when it opened in Serendra, I'm sure glad I finally got to try it now at their 2nd branch, in the new Glorietta 5.
|Can you spot the Halloween décor at Saboten?|
Most katsu places in Manila are wooden themed that reminds me so much of traditional Japan, but modernized. And Saboten is no different. The branch at Glorietta 5 just exudes warmth with its wooden furnishing. But I'd say it's the accents that really got me. I just love the different floral patterns on the walls, the dividers and the floral fabrics on the chairs, as well as the stylish wall panels of both the wood and the decorative stones. And as both a foodie and a photography enthusiast, how can I not mention the high ceilings and picture windows that let in all the glorious natural light? If I don't get nice photos, then the blame's all on me. I can't use the "poor" lighting as an excuse. Umm, except at night?
Like the other katsu places I've been to so far, Saboten also has a set of condiments on each table -- tonkatsu sauce, Himalayan salt, ponzu sauce, sesame dressing, and karashi or Japanese mustard. When you order a katsu set, you'll also be given a small bowl of black and white sesame seeds to grind (which you mix with the tonkatsu sauce).
The Katsu Dishes
Normally, when I dine alone or with the beau at a katsu restaurant, I only order 1 katsu set for myself. Because really, 1 katsu set is all you need even if you're hungry.
You'll already get your breaded and deep-fried protein of choice, along with unlimited rice, miso soup, pickles and cabbage salad. But what to do if you want to try more food? Come in a group and share your choice of sets! Just like what we did. (=^･ω･^)ﾉ”
|The cabbage salad and pickles come in bigger portions good for sharing.|
And first on our orders was the Mille-Feuille Combo Set which includes 130g of thinly-sliced, layered pork, a piece of deep-fried shrimp (ebi katsu/furai) and a piece of crab cream croquette, along with a tartar sauce and ponzu with grated daikon. Since I still can't eat seafood without getting itchy, I only took a small bite out of the ebi furai. But it was enough to tell me that quality is good. The ebi was soft, juicy and had a good bite to it, while its casing was crunchy and far from greasy. The same goes for the crab cream croquette which filling was really creamy and pretty light.
|✓ Mille-Feuille Combo Set (P595)|
But the star of this set is no doubt, the mille-feuille katsu itself. With thin layers of both meat and some fat, every bite just gives off that meaty, juicy and flavorful (Fat = flavor!) goodness. And don't you agree that its inside looks really good on photo? Dipped in katsu sauce, or the way I prefer it -- with only a dash of salt, this is a katsu dish I'd gladly have again the next time I come back to Saboten.
|Mille-Feuille katsu, up-close...|
Just look at that layers of meat and fat! Isn't it beautiful?
We also had the Grated Radish Loin Set which is another way one can enjoy their katsu. Fattier than the tenderloin, the loin cutlet is topped with grated daikon radish and spring onions, and served with a ponzu sauce to be poured over the top, along with a slice of supposedly grapefruit (but we got a slice of lemon instead). This is a refreshing way to enjoy katsu, and the perfect preparation if you want something sharp to cut through the richness (especially the loin which has a thin layer of fat) of deep-fried pork.
|Grated Radish Loin Set (P395)|
Next, we had the Claypot Tenderloin Set which a leaner yet still flavorful portion of pork served in a claypot (duh!) with a special sauce and creamy egg. When this was brought to our table, it immediately reminded me of katsudon! But what I like about this preparation is how it doesn't have rice, just the protein. So (weird) people who are like my little sister who loves katsudon, but hates her rice getting drenched in katsudon sauce (Who doesn't want sauce in their rice?), can still enjoy their kind of katsudon.
|✓ Claypot Tenderloin Set (P425)|
Last among our sets was the Curry Chicken Set which has a tender and succulent chicken cutlet, served with rice and Saboten's blend of curry. The curry itself is good -- flavorful, has complex earthy flavors, and not as spicy (although I like spicy), and goes really well with the katsu. However, the presentation is a little disappointing. I know curry is curry, but maybe some colors from potatoes, carrots or bell peppers can make the dish look more appealing and match how good it actually tastes.
|Curry Chicken Set (P395)|
The Dessert and Drinks
We're 3 girls who went to Saboten for late lunch. And while it's unbelievable how we managed to stuff the 4 katsu sets we ordered, I don't think we went overboard with the desserts. It's desserts! Everyone should always have some space for desserts.
We just had to try the Sesame Sansrival Cake which is the latest addition to Saboten's selection of cakes. And just like how a sansrival should be, this cake has crunchy and chewy layers of meringue and chopped cashews, with a decadent sesame buttercream. Since I still can't have a lot of sugar and dairy, I only had 1 bite off this cake. But, that 1 bite was enough to make a fan. There's a good balance of sesame and buttercream. My friends thought the cream becomes overpowering after more forkfuls though.
|✓ Sesame Sansrival Cake (P210)|
We also tried the Matcha Lychee Almond Cake which I insisted we order since I know it would look really good on photo. And it did! The only problem though is the flavors the cake promise fell a little short. The matcha is sprinkled only on top of the cake, so I didn't get enough matcha goodness. The almond flavor was a little subtle too. However, lychee lovers will enjoy this as it's the flavor that really comes through even from a single bite.
|Matcha Lychee Almond Cake (P210)|
My friend Stacy, on the other hand, ordered the Strawberry Shortcake. Just like how we expected Japanese cakes to be, the cream on this cake is really light that even after a lot of mouthfuls, you won't feel taste fatigued. However, we all agreed that there's a shortage on the strawberries, as usually, along with the preserve, there are also strawberry slices on each layer of the cake. We also thought this cake might have sat a little too long in the fridge, 'cause the spongecake albeit soft was already quite damp.
|Strawberry Shortcake (P195)|
Saving the best for last, we had the Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cake. Unlike how this cake looked on the photo, the presentation in person was a bit of a letdown. However, upon slicing it in half, we knew we're up to an enjoyable sweet ending. Just look at the smooth ganache covering the cake! And that chocolate mousse inside on top of a crunchy base... How can we not get excited? One spoonful, and I knew I just had to take another bite! That's how good it is. It's like a cross between KitKat and Ferrero Rocher -- 2 of my favorite chocolates, but in cake form. And yes, just as I expected, the 2 bites indeed left me scratching my skin quite a bit. But, it was worth it! d（=´∇｀=）b
|✓ Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cake (P195)|
For drinks, I decided to go with the Watermelon Wasabi Smoothie which was refreshing and something I haven't thought of having before I saw it on the menu. The wasabi note wouldn't leave you closing your eyes as the cool, minty feel passes your nose. It's more of just the wasabi's herbal note that blended really nicely with the naturally sweet and thirst-quenching watermelon.
|Watermelon Wasabi Smoothie (P175) and Four Seasons & Yakult (P175)|
My friend Berylle on the other hand, had the Four Seasons & Yakult which was sweet, fruity, tart and yakult-y all at the same time. But my favorite was Stacy's Ripe Mango & Passionfruit Smoothie which was naturally sweet, fruity and tropical. Yum!
Raintree Zombie Magnets
By the way, for a minimum of P1,000 purchase from any Raintree restaurant, you get a free Raintree zombie magnet! Every Raintree resto has a corresponding zombie mascot. And so far, I already have the one from Saboten and Chelsea Kitchen, which I've already eaten twice just last week (review to be posted soon). Also, in case you want to collect them all, you can simply buy the entire set for P295.
Saboten carries different kinds of proteins in katsu form, as well as different preparations so katsu lovers won't have to eat the same food again and again. And while the competition between various katsu places in Metro Manila is pretty tight (All of them serve good food!), I'd recommend you to try Saboten, the largest katsu chain from Japan, if you haven't yet. For something a little more different, try their Mille-Feuille Katsu and Claypot Katsu. And if you have to choose just one dessert to try (as their cakes can be pricey), I'd say go for the Chocolate Hazelnut Cream Cake! ;)
Taste - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Ambiance - 4/5
Service - 4/5
Price - 3.5/5
Overall Value - 4/5
Saboten, Glorietta 5
G/F Glorietta 5, Office Dr., Ayala Center,
Makati, Metro Manila, Philippines
(02) 625 0909
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Posted in: food, glorietta, glorietta 5, japanese, japanese-western, katsu, makati city, saboten, tonkatsu, yoshoku