Monday, November 14, 2011

Just Katsu

I spent the better part of the afternoon walking - parked at Megamall, ran some errands, walked over to Podium and did the same, across to Anson's to close the deal, then back.  Navigating Megamall is always an ordeal.  They don't call it mega for nothing.  Were it not for my trusted FitFlops, my feet would have given up on me before I could even get out of Megamall.
By 8pm and I figured we were stuck with mall dining for dinner.  I wasn't too optimistic about our dining choices.  Looking around, we saw mostly quick service restaurant chains.  Well, we could have gone back to our old reliable Pho Hoa at the basement but being stuck with something familiar wasn't my thing that night.  So off we went, up and down, back and forth.  Fortunately, most of the restaurants are located at the Atrium and Bridgeway so we were going around in a relatively tight circle.  Just as we were about to give up and head towards Pho Hoa, a sign by the escalator caught our eye - Yabu, The House of Katsu.  "That's it," I said, "that's where we're eating."
We headed for the 2nd level of the Atrium, not expecting much.  The place looked attractive, modern and tastefully put together.  There was a good-sized crowd which was comforting.  The moment I opened that menu, I knew that we had a promising meal ahead of us.

It was simple.  Just katsu with a promise that what they served was exceptional.  My first choice was the Kurobuta pork katsu meal.  Our server declared that it was out of stock!  My enthusiasm down several notches, we settled for the Tonkatsu - pork for the husband and chicken for me.
We had a pair of appetizers while waiting.  We chose the Hiyayakko tofu and Wakame.

The wakame was nice and briny.  The tofu was firm and fresh.  When I took a bite though, a citrusy sourness hit me.  I have never tasted any sourness in a hiyayakko so I had them ask the chef what it was, just to make sure that there was nothing wrong with it.  Well, they took it back and said that they would replace it.  And they did, with Edamame and a fresh portion of Wakame.

Once served, the waiter mentioned that they put ponzu in the sauce for the hiyayakko.  So that's what was making it sour.  A slight twist.  Hmmmm...I would have wanted it back but by then it was too late.
I was fiddling around with the sauce tray while waiting for our main course to come.

The pig on the left held the pink salt, on the right was the bulldog sauce to be poured over your katsu with a small bamboo ladle, and Japanese pepper and chili.  Not in the photo are the salad dressings - sesame and vinaigrette.
Our tonkatsu meals arrived hot and steaming.

The tray held slices of watermelon and pineapple, Japanese pickles and cucumber, miso soup, bottomless shredded cabbage and thick, juicy cuts of Chicken Tonkatsu.  As promised, the katsu was crisp outside, tender in the center.  The Japanese rice was extra generous, the egg soft and curdy.  If there was anything I would think was less than perfect about this dish, it would be that it could have used more onions but other than that, it was excellent.  Raul's pork though had too much gristle or litid, making it tougher than it should have been.  The flavor though was spot on so he wasn't really complaining.
The Tonkatsu was listed at P265++ for the pork and P260++ for the chicken.  The meal ended with a large scoop of ice cream with their compliments.
The verdict: great value for money, a well-focused menu, exceptional food, service a bit confused (they opened 11-11-11 so they are excused), ambiance - well, being in a mall, expect lots of noisy kids.
My recommendation:  go for it!  I would definitely go back with Beau in tow.

Yabu is on the 2nd level of the Atrium of SM Megamall.  It is so new that it isn't even in the mall directory yet.  Trust me.  It is there.