Friday, December 2, 2011

Yabu Restaurant, Megamall

Cross-section of a deep fried oyster. Yum!
It is no secret that my husband and I love Japanese food. If we're out and the question of where to eat comes up, nine out of ten times the answer will be a Japanese restaurant. Since we are both creatures of habit (ie, we are too lazy to venture out of our usual stomping grounds) our favorite eating places of Japanese food are quite few. 

Luckily, we chanced upon a new restaurant in Megamall, called Yabu, quite near Teriyaki Boy where we have our usual Japanese fare. On the window is a sign that says "soft opening": we knew we were up for something new.

This restaurant specializes in katsudon, a Japanese dish of deep-fried breaded pork served with a dipping sauce, and rice. In Yabu, a variety of other dishes cooked in the same manner are served: not only pork, in different gradients of fat content, but also chicken, fish and other seafood.

Rosu katsudon
Four-piece jumbo oyster katsu
The first time we ate here, I had a hire (lean pork) katsudon, while hubby had a seafood set meal. The hire tasted like any usual well-cooked katsudon meal, but when my husband chopsticked a piece of  his deep fried breaded oyster into my mouth: it tasted like heaven! Crunchy on the outside, while fresh, and sweet soft and juicy on the inside, the oyster had me head over heels and wanting for more. The deep-frying and breading have locked-in the oyster's natural charms in a neat and crunchy little package. Too bad the seafood set only had one piece of oyster katsu (and a piece each of scallop, shrimp and fish). The next time we went to Yabu, I knew better and ordered a four-piece jumbo oyster meal. Hubby ordered rosu, a fattier piece of pork.

We ordered the set meal, which comes with rice, unlimited cabbage, miso soup and a small fruit bowl with two small slices of watermelon and pineapple; but one can order ala carte. Another favorite of mine is the unlimited cabbage available with the set meals. Raw cabbage is cut into slivers, put on ice and served on your plate with your katsu; you put a special sauce available on your table, and this cabbage salad helps cut down the richness of the deep-fried katsu. I read in the menu that canola oil is used for deep frying, and I think this helps lessen the richness of the meal, too.

Carlo doing the katsu sauce ritual: seed-crushing stage
Speaking of the menu, it was helpful in showing us the "ritual" of sauce preparation. Every customer is provided with a ridged bowl with sesame seeds and a wooden pestle with which to crush the seeds. Enjoy the smell of crushed sesame seeds when you can! After crushing, a brown sauce is poured on the seeds. This mixture is what you dip your katsu into.

Sesame seeds
Pour sauce on the crushed seeds
Voila! Katsu sauce!
They offer tasty appetizers as well, in sets of two per order. We had potato salad (since Carlo loves this while I don't) and wakame, Japanese seaweed salad (since I love this while Carlo doesn't). We were both satisfied with the appetizers, and next time, I will try the edamame (green soybean pods). We were even so excited to have appetizers that we almost ate them in their serving bowls (how rude!) instead of using our chopsticks and apportioning the appetizers on our own plates. I finished almost all of my wakame before taking a picture. 

Wakame (seaweed salad)
Those are black sesame seeds on top of the rice.
The fruit bowl of pineapple and watermelon was a welcome sweetness from the savory meal. They also serve a small side dish of Japanese pickles, but I picked through the ginger and ate only pickled cucumber slices. The miso soup was pretty standard, the rice was normal but in a smaller serving (Carlo ate two and one-half  bowls for his 120g piece of rosu katsu), served prettily with black sesame seeds on top.

It was a week after our first visit when we came back for the next, and the "soft opening" sign is still on the window. Apart for the tolerably slower service, I'd love to come back to Yabu.

Yabu, The House of Katsu