Carina and I were invited to the launch of Yabu’s newest branch at SM Mall of Asia. I think it’s about time this Katsu house settled down south and now that it’s closer, I can get my katsu fix a lot more often. The branch holds the same aesthetic as the flagship store in Megamall and the Magnolia store as well. I was happy to find though, that the manga panels on the wall boasted a new comic. We were greeted by an enthusiastic staff when the place was unveiled, I think they yelled something in Japanese!
Here’s a shot of Carina the cute. While we waited for the ribbon to be cut and the place to open, we attempted to guess what new dishes they’d launch.
We got one right, speculating from the hint on the invitation that it’d be crab! Soft shell crab, it was. As for the Menchi, I’d never heard of it so I didn’t know what to expect. Either way though, anything with cheese is highly likely to be my friend.
They served us some appetizer first and as usual, I got a serving of double Wakame. This is a seaweed dish and it’s unlike any other I’ve tried. For one thing, it’s nearly bright green and served in really thin strips. It’s easy to chew, has a sesame sweet bite into it but isn’t quite as comparable as its yellow Chinese-y counterpart. If you ask me though, I’d take this over that any day.
The program started and Tito John Concepcion, the founder and owner of Yabu told us about all the exciting things in store for the brand. They just launched a website which is more interactive and funner to just click around at. There’s also a Yabu app but it’s still on it’s way.
We were first served the Menchi with Cheese Curry Katsu Set. Menchi was described as a mixture of high quality ground beef and pork, fried to a golden crisp with a creamy cheesy center. Just looking at it makes me hungry again.
The melted cheese left a gaping hole in the katsu’s center but none of us could complain, the flavors blended so well. I honestly think the Menchi Katsu will be a big hit for kids and general cheese fiends, it’s now become the ultimate comfort food. I feel the same way about it as I do with cheese dogs, they’re basically hotdogs but better. Also important to note was the new condiment on the table, chilli layu. I mixed this in the curry sauce and dipped the Menchi in and oh man. There are not enough words for awesome.
Next up was this scene stealer, the Soft Shell Crab Katsu. I’ve always loved soft shell crab, gravitating to whatever dish contains it. Recently, I’ve been trying to cop a box over at S&R but find that they never have stock anymore which is a sad sad thing. Anyway! Yabu has it now and it does not disappoint. The Soft Shell Crab Katsu comes with a special Ponzu Layu sauce that gives a nice sour and spicy note to the feathered soft shell crisp. I found the sizing though to be quite small, it’ll admittedly take more than that to get me full.
We sat around with Mike and Dee Jae while waiting for our real orders. By around this time, we were all pretty much ready to break down into food coma mode. Carina and I were already so stuffed, and we didn’t even touch our rice. Had a great conversation with them about Manila and the scene in general, there’s so much to be excited about these days.
Tonight I ordered the Yabu Special Chicken Katsudon Set which is probably the only thing on the menu I haven’t tried. It’s a deconstructed katsudon, with the katsu served dry and not soggy the way it usually is. I liked how different this dish was, it’s already borderline experimental with the sunny side up egg on top and the katsu, topped on a bed of rice with a thick miso/soy based sauce with some shiso. Still Japanese but a different kind, definitely masarap.
Yabu Mall of Asia opens officially on November 28 and according to their Twitter page, they’re serving free ice cream to all customers who come in on the first day so go on ahead.