Yabu: The House of Katsu’s popularity reached my radar. People claim that the place serves authentic katsu (not only legit but allegedly the best in town) so when Abi suggested we have our mini-reunion lunch at their branch in Mall of Asia, I did not hesitate.
I love their very informative, glossy and thick-bound menu. A whole page is dedicated on the “Anatomy of a YABU Katsu“. As expected from a restaurant that claims to be a “house of katsu” only different variations of the dish were available: there’s pork, chicken, curry and seafood katsu both in sets and ala carte.
The manager, Ms. Jacq, was very helpful. She was very attentive to our needs and she described the different condiments. There was the katsu sauce, sesame dressing, shoyu vinaigrette, chili powder and other things I couldn’t remember. One thing that stuck like glue though, was the Himalayan salt (far left) which was imported from the Himalayas. I don’t know why but Biancs and I found the idea of importing something as common and as readily-available as salt funny. Back to the manager, she was so approachable and nice I couldn’t help but smile back at her every time. Yabu’s service was impeccable!
For the complete Yabu experience, each diner was provided with their own mortar and pestle with black and white sesame seeds. We ground them until most of the seeds are crushed and then we added the katsu sauce. This served as the dip for our tonkatsu. One can add chili powder and other condiments at his own preference. Talk about an interactive experience.
All katsu sets came with unlimited japanese rice, shredded cabbage,miso soup, japanese pickles and a bowl of fruits. Kurobata pork set (Premium tonkatsu) is made with cutlets from Black Herkshire Pig which, according to the menu, is the world’s finest pork or the “kobe beef” of pork. I wanted to try the world’s finest but it was too pricey at 575 bucks. Abi and I ordered regular “rosu” (Pork Loin) tonkatsu sets instead which we referred to as “Class B”. hehe
In terms of its authenticity, I am in no position to judge because I am not a Japanese nor a foodie nor a master chef. As for the taste, all I can say is that 350 pesos for 120 g is very worth it. The meat is very flavorful and soft and delicious not to mention the generous servings. When paired with unlimited Japanese rice and shredded cabbage (I can’t believe I’m typing this but with sesame dressing, the cabbage is delicioso), this is a very satisfying meal. It’s something I won’t crave for the way I do with Jamaican Patty but I will still shell out 350 pesos for lunch at Yabu and starve the rest of the day (if it comes to that) in the future. I will definitely be back armed with more moolah.
Nicka and Dai had Menchi (ground meat cutlet) with Cheese Katsu. When I had a bite, it tasted like Jamaican Cheesy Beef. If you want something saltier than regular pork or if you love cheese from the bottom of your heart, this set is perfect for you. Dai loves this so much she said it might even take the place of Maru (if you know her well, that’s something!).
Biancs had Chicken Katsudon but her order came last so we were already engrossed in our own sets we forgot the habit of picture-taking. Yabu does live up to all the hype. In fact, I wasn’t able to take a photo of their place in Mall of Asia because it was full even at 2 in the afternoon (some customers might be sensitive to strangers randomly clicking a camera).
Biancs and Abi
Some ice creams on display. Too bad they did not offer free tastes so we ordered based on looks and name alone.
I had Mangga’t Suman. The mangoes tasted exactly like mangoes while the suman reminded me of pinataro (white sticky rice dumplings with latik according to Google) and I like its texture. Nicka had Flufferbutter which was too sweet but I like peanutbutter so it’s okay. I forgot what Dai and Biancs had but there was nothing remarkable with them. Abi loved her dark chocolate but I’m not a fan of the bitter taste. I wanted to try Mangga with Bagoong and Blue cheese but they were more expensive at 140 per scoop compared to the ones we had (100 pesos). I am running low on budget. Maybe next time.