Seabiscuit Films produced a video for Chef Bruce‘s presentation for Madrid Fusion last month so he thought it’d be nice to treat us with 10 seats in Mecha Uma’s chef’s table. My business partner Nicky directed the video so he decided to treat Carina, Dan, Anton and myself and gave the other 5 seats to his siblings.
Here’s a list of some things I knew about Mecha Uma before finally getting the chance to try it:
1. Reservations for the tasting course are difficult to get and should be booked way ahead. They do their tasting course from Friday to Monday every week in batches of 10 twice a night.
2. They only use the freshest ingredients – mostly flown in from Japan.
3. Bruce Ricketts is brilliant.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect but because there was a ton of hype to begin with, I set the bar pretty high in my head. So yeah, I walked in there expecting to get my mind blown and it did not disappoint.
Plate 1. This was an assortment of seasonal sashimi flown fresh from Japan. He told us to eat the fish in a particular order – sea bream then hamachi then bonito and then the otoro. I think I could eat like 10 plates of this or something, realistically.
Plate 2. Freshly shucked oyster wrapped in potato and then fried. Two sauces: White is from all the juices they got from shucking an oyster mixed in with buttermilk. Green sauce is made from snap peas and edamame, juiced and seasoned with soy sauce and butter. This was really yummy I feel like I drank the sauce afterwards. The oyster bit I got just seemed small. Wish it were bigger or that I could eat more of this.
Plate 3. Some kind of seafood taho. Firefly squid is in season this time of year in Japan and they’re called that because they’re absolutely tiny and they glow. The dish consists of firefly squid mixed with a bit of aioli, sago balls cooked in squid ink with a bit of radish and some seaweed, underneath is a chawanmushi made from corn juice. There was also a generous bit of uni on top which is something so good it’s absolutely sinful. I really loved the creativity of this dish.
Plate 4. Raw white scallop meat marinated in sake and soy sauce. Liver, abductor muscle and remaining scallop parts are blended mixed with some squid ink and puffed into a kropek. The scallop meat on top was paired with guava, papaya and some avocado. SARAP. Everything about this dish was bright and so fresh.
Plate 5. This is a Japanese tanigue fish aka Sawara which is marinated in sake kasu (which is leftovers from sake production) paired with a salad of crispy pork belly, carrots, singkamas, on a bed of monggo puree dressed with coconut vinegar (made from burning coconuts, pouring vinegar and squeezing it out).
This dish made its debut in Madrid Fusion and it was a big hit in our table. Loved the huge Filipino influence in this dish. It’s funny cause Carina’s never had monggo in her life and this fancy one was her first encounter.
Plate 6. Unagi Kimo aka Eel Liver. Usually, it’s just salted and grilled but that leaves it really bitter. To take the bitterness out, Chef Bruce decided to stew it and caramelize it to get it aromatic. Paired with rice slow-cooked in dashi with some mushroom and butter seasoned with sansho pepper and topped with kinome.
Chef Bruce asks this guy who brings them ingredients from Japan to sometimes just bring him new, weird stuff to stimulate creativity – this time around they got fish guts. Valuable fish guts though since I remember this to be pricey.
I tried eel liver 2 years ago in Osaka because a friend mistakenly ordered it and hated it so I was pretty scared of this dish. I wanted to pass on this but I gave it a shot and did not regret it. It did not taste anything like what I had back in Nishiki. It’s actually good, the bitter bad taste was masked and the rice was creamy and rich just like risotto.
Plate 7. Man, I did not get to record the description of this thing but it’s predominantly watermelon and it had this green jello made of Chartreuse liqueur which was pretty cool. It was good but the yellow stuff was mayo-like which I found a bit off. I think mostly I was sad about this part because I wanted it to be ice cream so badly but it wasn’t.
Plate 8. Roasted lamb topped with foie gras paired with cauliflower and curry-seasoned eggplant. Sauce is made from the lamb bones, port wine and beet juice with floral notes of Earl Grey tea.
Lamb is probably my favorite protein of all time. I can’t get enough of its gamey flavor. I kept eyeing Carina’s piece in this round cause it looked bigger. Really loved this and thought the plating was totally art. Beautiful, beautiful dish. Didn’t notice the Earl Grey bits though I wonder if the rest of the people I ate with did. Hmm…
Plate 9. Taking a minimalist approach, they served this beauty, a slice of Grade A5 Matsusaka Wagyu tenderloin. They told us to season it whatever way we’d like. It was served with nori salt and a lovely sake, onion juice sauce made with Cabrales cheese (which is like this Spanish blue cheese) to give it funk and aroma. They also topped the beef with some radish and wasabi which I junked.
I’m crazy about that sake/onion/Cabrales sauce. I wiped my plate clean of that stuff. I thought the way they decided to serve the beef this way – just really pure and on its own was splendid. Matsusaka wagyu is the best beef I’ve had in terms of flavor and fat to meat ratio. It practically melts in your mouth. I wish I could buy a bottle of that sauce and eat this all day.
Plate 10. Dessert! I was sad when it was time for dessert cause then it meant that the meal was over.
He had us eat the small bit of green mango on top seasoned with sugar, as a palate cleanser. This was basically a mango in curd form served really cold. The rest of the components are just a variety of stuff that go well with the curd – pili nuts, black sesame short bread cookie, meringue made from sesame leaf and coconut pannacotta.
Also wiped the plate clean with this one, it was really refreshing and I thought the black sesame shortbread cookie was spot-on. Never imagined it’d go well with our local mango but it just hit the spot.
I loved seeing Chef Bruce and the entire team work as they put this meal together. There’s something about him and how he is with food, you really see him in his element and there’s just a lot of creativity and imagination on the plate. He’s the perfect example of someone who’s meant to be exactly where he is – creating, exploring, opening up other people’s senses just with food. I can’t explain the feeling so much but it was really so great to be there to watch and to listen. I wondered how he imagines and crafts his dishes, how and why he puts certain things together. It’s like magic or something. Mecha Uma really went way above and beyond my expectations.
What I thought about Mecha Uma after finally getting the chance to try it:
1. I loved it all. Nothing about the meal was disappointing. OK – maybe I was a bit sad the portions were bird small but it was expected. I mean, it’s a tasting course. Everything is like 3-4 bites worth of food. Also, I have a bear-like appetite.
2. If you’re crazy about food the way I’m crazy about food and want to eat this kind of thing on a weekly basis, Chef Bruce suggests coming to the restaurant once every 3-4 weeks to ensure that you get to try entirely new plates.
3. The whole meal in itself was Php 3600++ but it’s well worth it. Obviously.
4. Bruce Ricketts is brilliant. Really.
RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Tower,
25th Corner 26th Street,
Bonifacio Global City
(There’s Php 45 parking on the 7th floor)