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Dotonburi Sushi
I’ll be posting a lot of backlog from my last Osaka trip so this is just a heads up. I get a lot of messages from family and friends asking me what my favorite Osaka food finds are so I thought it’d be convenient to just post them all here for everyone to see.

Dotonburi Sushi
I have no idea what this restaurant is called but we found it when as we were walking around Dotonburi for brunch. It was a brightly lit take-out sushi and sashimi joint where all the fish is freshly packed and refrigerated, just like in the grocery aisles. What sets this place apart from a grocery is that there are stools and high tables on one side where diners who buy their fish can dine. The tables have soy sauce, tissue and chopsticks and the place sells drinks as well.

Dotonburi Sushi
It’s a pay at the counter kind of place. I can’t say it’s a restaurant cause it’s a lot more like a deli with rows and rows of pre-packed sushi and sashimi.

Dotonburi Sushi
There was even a booth where they were selling fresh and grilled oysters for ¥400 a piece.

Dotonburi Sushi
We had grilled oysters topped with soy sauce, butter and lemon.

Dotonburi Sushi
Then we looked through the different rows of fish and picked out the stuff we wanted to try. There was a wide array of sorts, from the affordable to premium.

Dotonburi Sushi

Dotonburi Sushi
I was happy to see fresh slabs of otoro in the mix. It’s the fattiest best part of any tuna and comes straight from the belly. It’s usually pricey but in this fine establishment, Otoro Sashimi was ¥1500 which at Php 550 is affordable.

Dotonburi Sushi
Of course, I ordered it. After paying, you can have it sliced by any of the chefs on-hand. If they’re not prepping stuff for customers, you’ll find them slicing and packing more fish and putting them in more take-out containers.

Dotonburi Sushi
Sake Nigiri and Rolls for ¥500 / Unagi Nigiri for ¥200 / Tamago for ¥100

Dotonburi Sushi
Look at the stripes on the salmon slabs, absolutely gorgeous. Tasted great and fresh as ever.

Dotonburi Sushi
The Otoro was served with hot, seafood miso soup with baby clams. It was the best sashmi I ever tasted. It melts in your mouth just like butter and it’s rich, creamy and just such a dream to eat. I savored every second I had it in my mouth. It’s best eaten with your eyes closed.

Dotonburi Sushi
We also saw that they were filleting a huge tuna by the time we were done eating. It’s some sort of tourist attraction there. There are guys gutting and cutting this huge fish and showing the different parts of meat inside.

Maybe you’ll all laugh at me when I say this was one of the best sushi/sashimi meals I had in my life. Never cared much for ambience and I find that the most unassuming places end up surprising you. What makes this place so special to me is how fresh everything is and the quality of the products and the prices all just don’t add up! It’s too good to be this cheap but I’m glad. Thank you Japan for going above and beyond my expectations every single meal.

It’s strange but I’ve been visiting Osaka yearly for 3 years now and I find that sukiyaki shops are hard to come-by. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of restaurants and food everywhere – but the thing with Japan is that most (if not all) restaurants just serve the same kind of food. If you want sushi, you go to a sushi place, ramen shops will only have ramen, katsu shops will only have katsu, you get my drift. I always stay in the Shinsaibashi area which is just walking distance to Dotonburi and Namba – and I don’t know if it’s just me but sukiyaki restaurants are few and far between. There seem to be a lot of shabu-shabu Japanese hot pot places but nope, not a lot of sukiyaki joints.

The first time I discovered Syabuya Sukiyaki was on one of the last few days of my trip last year. I was hell bent on eating sukiyaki and lo and behold, a google search came up and lead me straight to the mall – Namba Parks.

Sukiyaki Namba Parks
Tried both the Japanese Beef Lunch Set (¥2,037) and got Imported Beef on the side just to try. The lunch set comes with everything in this photo but since it’s a set, this is pretty much your whole meal.

Sukiyaki Namba Parks
I never ordered the Imported Beef again – as you can tell by the photo it’s lean and barely has any marbling.

DSC04113
Their menu is pretty straightforward. You pick if you want Sukiyaki or Shabu-Shabu. Beef or Pork? Japanese beef or US beef? Do you want to eat a set or unlimited? When you pick the unlimited option, everyone in the table has to get the same thing.

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
I went back with my family and we all got the Unlimited Japanese Beef Sukiyaki Set (¥4,298). This comes with unlimited everything – beef, rice, raw egg and veggies. It’s a steal at Php 1570 if you ask me cause you’d be hard pressed to find unlimited sukiyaki this good at this price point anywhere in Manila.

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Just a closer look at the Special Japanese Beef. Check the marbling on that thing! It’s embarrassing to admit but I think we finished twelve of these trays total. Sulit na sulit! Lol.

DSC04116
It’s a full plate but enoki is all that matters. They served us about 4 small extra plates of enoki.

DSC04114
If you’ve never tried sukiyaki, it’s basically a Japanese hotpot stew. You start by letting the soup (soy sauce, sugar, mirin) boil, slowly adding leeks and some onions for a bit more flavor then when it heats up, you dip thinly sliced beef in and swish until it cooks.

DSC04119
What really sets this dish apart is the quality of the meat. Because prep is so simple, the ingredients really do stand out. Just by looking at it, you can tell Syabuya’s Japanese beef is top-notch.

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
Swish til it’s brown!

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks

Sukiyaki - Namba Parks
When the meat cooks, you dip it in in a separate bowl with beat raw egg and eat it. You can have it alone or with Japanese rice or noodles or tofu or veggies. I particularly enjoy eating it with rice and sometimes enoki. Dipping it in raw egg is a must. It enhances the flavor, adding a creaminess to the bold taste of the meat and the sweetness of the sauce. It just balances everything out better.

DSC04121
This is all the natural oil that came from the fat in the beef. The soup had zero oil in it, just had to take a photo for reasons unknown.

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The aftermath. Thankfully they remove the trays of beef every time they see them empty otherwise our table would have a little tower.

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The bill!

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Sukiyaki Namba Parks
The restaurant is located at the 6th Floor of Namba Parks – it’s in the area where all the other restaurants are so it shouldn’t be hard to find.

Syabuya Sukiyaki
しゃぶしゃぶ食べ放題 しゃぶ家 なんばパークス店
Phone: 06-4396-1729
Namba Parks 6th Floor, 2-10-70,
Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku,
Osaka-shi, Osaka, 556-0011
Menu & More Info from Gurunavi
Click to see their Japanese calling card!

I wrapped a commercial project today and it felt great! Had the final edit today with both client and agency and it all went smooth sailing. Yep, there aren’t really any holidays in my line of work. I’m babbling here cause I’m excited for it and it’ll be out on Monday so watch out for it since I’ll be flooding my online space.

Not too related but when I got home from a relatively long day (for a holiday) of work, my mom asked if I wanted to join her for a trip to Megamall. All things considered, I thought the timing was great and there’d be no traffic getting there and I was right.

Ooma - Megamall

Ooma Japanese Rice Bar is the second collaboration of Chef Bruce Ricketts with The Moment Group. I sure as hell am glad this place exists because as much as I’d like to practical budget restrictions don’t permit a weekly Mecha Uma visit. Ooma though is the kind of place I’ll find myself in every single time I am in Megamall. So yay.

I couldn’t find a phone number online so they listed us as the 28th diners when we got there around 7:30PM. The place was packed, the seats outside were full and it seemed that everyone was willing to wait. Mom and I did some shopping in the area and went back to claim our seats around 50 minutes later. Good thing I had a merienda worthy of a children’s party at the office so I wasn’t the least bit hungry. We were finally seated at 9PM and I took charge of ordering pretty much everything I was curious about so here it goes.

Ooma - Megamall
I ordered the Corn and Oyster Kakiage (Php 155) cause of all the hype surrounding it. Not much of a corn person (I try not to eat it – ever since I caught The World According to Monsanto) but I absolutely love oysters so I thought this would be a fine balance. I thought wrong. Fried and served with kimchi mayo and nori salt, corn was the majority shareholder of the dish with the teensy oyster as an afterthought. The oyster was really small, somewhat dry and I could barely taste it. The kimchi mayo was really good though but what would save this dish would be some fat juicy oysters.

Ooma - Megamall
Next up was the Spicy Tuna Maki (Php 245). This is something I order whenever I get the chance to. There’s a particular standard I look for when it comes to spicy tuna and Ooma’s was good – tightly packed, generous toppings, a gentle burn from the gojuchang aioli but what I missed were the tempura crumbs. The roll needed a bit more crunch to help it out but otherwise it’s something I’d probably order again after sampling the rest of the rolls.

Ooma - Megamall
The Hamachi and Kani Aburi Maki (P345) was on the sweet side with torched hamachi and teriyaki sauce. It was okay too but it tasted familiar. I think I’ll sample the other rolls before going back to ordering this one.

Ooma - Megamall
The highlight of my night was the Uni Udon (Php 495). My mom and I shared one and we both agreed that we’d get our own orders next time we headed back. The dish consisted of thick and creamy udon noodles fresh uni, shrimp, onion, fresh mushrooms, nori crumbs, scallion and a generous helping of uni cream sauce. So good, it’s not bland the typical cream-based dishes, the nori, uni and combination of everything else helped bring a tasty seafood tang to the plate.

Ooma - Megamall
The Hangar Steak (Php 495) was actually generous for the price. Prepared via sous vide the hangar steak was sliced thinly, served on a bed of sweet potato mash with truffle oil, ponzu butter and baby potato crisps. This would’ve been perfect if the potato crisps weren’t old and makunat by the time it got to us. First bite had the most distinct truffle flavor which was quite nice, meat was mostly tender – sometimes chewy but bearably so. There was a lot going on with this dish (the truffle, the sweet potato, the tartness of the pickle dressing, the bold flavor of the steak) but I liked it.

Ooma - Megamall
Here’s a shot of my lovely mama who was my date tonight. We enjoyed feasting together. Lol yup, what you saw was completely devoured by just two people. Hooray for us!

Ooma - Megamall
Just another shot of the Prom Queen – mixed in with all the sauce and elements tied together. If you only had money to eat one thing here, I suggest you let it be this.

Ooma - Megamall
Just for posterity and general internet logging, here’s my face: pre-food. So yeah, hungry and excited and feeling everything a normal person would feel after waiting the same length as a Holywood blockbuster to get a table for 2 at this restaurant.

Overall, Ooma’s definitely worth the trip to Megamall – near, far, wherever you are. Food’s good and I’d like to think you get what you pay for. Most of the items are unique to Ooma and that’s what’ll make people keep going back and wanting more. I have yet to try the dessert. I wasn’t a fan of the long queue and the long wait but hey timing is everything. If you find yourself with time to spare, preferably a weekday in the middle of the afternoon then go eat there. I’ll be back there too when there aren’t any people to compete with for seats.

Ooma Japanese Rice Bar
3/F SM Mega Fashion Hall
Edsa cor. Julia Vargas Ave.,
Ortigas, Mandaluyong City,
Metro Manila
10AM to 10PM
Ooma Full Menu

Japan is convenience store heaven. There’s literally a shop in every corner. The hotel I’m in is surrounded by Family Marts – there are two here indirectly across each other at just 20 paces apart. When I travel, I like digging through groceries and convenience shops just to look around and sample the wares.

Japan Convenience Store
The Haagen Dazs Caramel Classic Crispy Sandwich is something I look for every time I’m in Japan.

Japan Convenience Store
My mom says it reminds her of sansrival. The wafer is really light and airy, the sides are coated in what tastes like caramel flavored white chocolate and the ice cream in the center is Haagen Dazs caramel – which is my fave.

Japan Convenience Store
Saw this on the shelf and I thought – Laughing Cow x Royce – not at all a bad idea.

Japan Convenience Store
Packaging is spot on Laughing Cow.

Japan Convenience Store
But the taste? Oh, man it tastes really effin’ weird – like chocolate flavored cream cheese. Not my thing.

Japan Convenience Store
I’ve been having a hard time finding Bikkle around here – this actually was not from a convenience shop but from the vendo. It’s a yogurt drink that’s a lot like Yakult but isn’t very sweet which is why I like it so much. Been searching far and wide, inside every Family Mart, Lawson and 7-11 only to find no Bikkle – so to the overpriced vendo it is – look for Suntory. Strange times we live in.

Ikinari Steak

We found Ikinari Steak accidentally as we were walking through the streets of America-mura. Here in Osaka, it’s a pretty young area to be in – lots of little interesting shops, most of the American fast food chains are here, vintage shops, specialty bike shops, record stores, etc. Anything with the word STEAK in it appeals to me. I’m a carnivore through and through even if I’m not necessarily proud of it.

Ikinari Steak

We stopped by the door to read the signboards – it somehow looked a lot like Pepper Lunch. Meh, we thought, dismissing it at first since the thought of eating in a chain-type restaurant didn’t appeal to us. Mayabang. We walked around s’more and couldn’t get the steak out of our minds so we found our way back.

Ikinari Steak
The restaurant was smokey as hell! And we were surprised to find that there weren’t any chairs!

Ikinari Steak
When we got there, we found out that we had to order our steaks at the counter. I was surprised to find that the ribeye was the cheapest cut. That’s usually what I get so I was thrilled at this fact.

Ikinari Steak
The minimum order for a ribeye steak was 300 grams so this great butcher-chef man cut me a perfect piece.

Ikinari Steak
Weighing 305 grams, I was informed that I’d be charged ¥1,977 (Php 711) which is kind of a bargain for this beautiful cut. Just look at the marbling on that thing, jeez!

Ikinari Steak
We waited patiently as the steaks were grilled. I think it took about 10-15 minutes to get our orders out. Or longer I don’t know. I felt tired standing around.

Ikinari Steak
And then it was ready! The steak was evenly grilled, seasoned to perfection (just salt and pepper), topped with garlic butter and toasted garlic chips and served on a bed of buttered corn and onions.

Ikinari Steak
I ordered some garlic rice (¥200/Php 72) on the side and found that their version tasted just like Pepper Lunch’s beef pepper rice. So good.

Ikinari Steak
As requested, the steak was cooked to a perfect medium – just the way I like it. It’s really so tender and because of all that marbling it literally melts in your mouth. This was cooked so well – it’d pass Masterchef standards.

Ikinari Steak
The aftermath. They also have this soy-based steak sauce in a pitcher that you can slather your meat with – chose not to use it cause it made the dish too salty for my taste. I took the big fat bits off and chose not to eat them because I’ve been literally eating everything in sight so this kind of lessens the guilt?

The ribeye at Ikinari Steak is surprisingly one of the best steaks I’ve ever had. I never imagined that a fast-food high quality steak restaurant could ever exist but here it is and it’s strange and perfect. Can you believe they have a wine menu in there? Somehow, not having a place to sit didn’t bother me as much once I started eating. If you ever find yourself in Japan and you don’t care about smelling like grilled beef, give it a shot and tell me your thoughts.

Ikinari Steak
Stage 9 Building,
1-8-15 Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Phone: 06-6120-9129
Subway: Shinsaibashi
Opening Hours:
11am-11pm (Lunch 11am-3pm on Weekdays only)
Click for Directions

I have nothing against franchised restaurants from elsewhere, I really don’t. But if you’re planning to bring something into the Philippines, please make sure it’s good and not just some negligible over-priced establishment. I’m looking at you, Gyukaku!

Gyukaku BHS
With obvious origins in Japan, Gyukaku Yakiniku claims to be the World’s Number One Yakiniku brand. In Manila, that isn’t the case. I ate there last weekend, expecting the worst after reading a handful of reviews online but I wanted to see how things would pan out for myself.

We were there at 6 for dinner so there were barely any people. The interiors were dark, predominantly wood and leather, a lot fancier than its Japanese counterpart. Looking at the menu, we found things to be kind of pricey but I guess it was an expected range given the location. Non-wagyu orders were in the Php 300-700 range per plate.

Gyukaku BHS
They started us off with some dipping sauces, one was thick and sweet and the other looked just like soy sauce but of course it wasn’t just that, it was probably special.

Gyukaku BHS
When our food came, we were shocked at the portion sizes. I felt like the butt of a bad joke. We ordered a Horenso salad (Php 195) to share since the waiter specifically said it was good for two. Now, feast your eyes on the photo above. That’s half a salad. They said they’d split it for us.

Gyukaku BHS
HALF A SALAD. GEE THANKS. I literally ate this in two bites. The Horenso salad is their best seller and consists of fried garlic, mushrooms and a creamy roasted sesame dressing. Oh and like, 5 leaves or something. This is the tiniest salad I have ever ordered in my life, what a rip off. Good for two daw. It wasn’t even anything great. If you’re curious about sizing, this bowl is as small as the bowls they have at a typical Chinese restaurant.

Gyukaku BHS
The plate of meat up there, right with the salad was the Karubi in Large (Php 595). They claimed it was large but it was really, freaking small. I mean, look at that plate. And for the price, gah. Anyway, in Gyukaku you can pick what marinade to have your meat drenched in and for this, we ordered the Spicy Miso. After cooking and eating a few pieces, we found that this was barely even spicy and was actually pretty sweet. We also found that this was totally not worth our money. Meat quality was OK like if the order was Php 200 it’d be totally worth it.

Gyukaku BHS
This other tiny plate was the large order of Harami (Php 295). The menu specified this was “good for the ladies due to its low fat content”. Kind of sexist, don’t you think? We were suckers so we ordered it anyway, just cause it was the cheapest meat and we were still hungry.

This came as an additional order since we didn’t expect the large servings to be so deceptive. It was strange too, cause this tiny plate of raw meat took absolutely forever to get to our table. I had to bug the waiting staff 3 times to get this on our table. Figured they were probably raising the cows in the back room, fattening them up for our consumption.

We got it in the Tare marinade which they said was the best-seller. Also, it was sweet. Didn’t sense much difference in the quality of the karubi vs. the harami. To be honest, the harami was easier on the pocket which makes it way better but still to be honest, it was just OK.

Food here’s nothing great folks. If you want Yakiniku that’s worth every penny, just go to Sandaya along Pasay Road. I mean, the CAB Angus Beef Boneless Short Rib is Php 350. The beef’s better, the sauce is better, it’s just an overall awesome dining experience. Not like the great disappointment that is Gyukaku Philippines. I felt so ripped off. Total bill was Php 1200 for just that.

GYU-KAKU
W Global Center 30th St. corner 9th Ave.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Mobile: +(63 918) 917-2611
Open Daily 11.00am to 11.00pm

DISCLAIMER: Paid for my food and I won’t be back until they can prove it’s worth spending on.

maps

So the blog’s been kind of quiet lately. It’s cause I’ve been out of the country travelling for a while. It’s funny, because I haven’t touched my laptop in over a month I had to get my password reset cause I couldn’t figure it out. Got home last night from a month long New York visit so I have a lot of posts coming up, hopefully I get to weed through the 10GB of photos I snapped.

Chillin at the Park

Before crossing continents, I actually also spent the first week of April in Japan so I have a bunch of Osaka-based posts lined up as well so check this space from time to time.

I kind of get overwhelmed just thinking of all the pictures I have to sort thorough but whatever, I’ll get that done in time. For now, here are some photos from both trips just to give ya’ll an idea of what’s to come.

Sukiyaki Udon

Gion Yutaka Chef

Matsusaka

Fushimi Inari

Empty ramen bowls

st anselm

tourist

shake shack

Umami Hambaagu House
Tucked in a rather accessible location I can’t disclose (yet), I spent Thursday afternoon having non-traditional Japanese burgers with Carina, Mikka and Dwight. I didn’t know much about Umami but when Mikka texted me about heading over and trying their food before everyone else could, I jumped at the chance. The place opens this coming Tuesday and I was among the chosen few to get a sneak peek! Magic dust and many thanks go out to Charles and Dwight!

Umami Hambaagu House
Usually on a trip abroad, I find myself on the lookout for independent coffee shops I can waste an afternoon in. And whenever I find some place interesting looking enough to warrant all that wasted time, I always wish that someone would open that kind of place in Manila. Stepping into Umami, I was confronted with the expensive dilemma of wanting to hang out there everyday. The place reeks Japanese pop culture but in a completely non-offensive, cute way. Stuff I spotted: Super Mario’s hat, a huge pack of Choco Baby, Totoro’s smiling face in the printed wallpaper and a stuffed version of the girl from Milky. I also really appreciate it when establishments make an effort to actually come up with a brand identity. Umami Hambaagu House exudes such a distinct character, which reflects in its design; from its interiors to the photography and graphic design on its menu. Visually, it already whets the appetite.

Umami Hambaagu House
On to the food! I may have said more than once on this blog that I am not a burger person. To correct that confusing statement, I am not a burger sandwich person. Throwing the bread out makes a world of a difference. As a life long member of the Jollibee Burger Steak appreciation club, the selection at Umami was overwhelming. I wanted to order everything.

Umami Hambaagu House
After flipping through the menu and asking Dwight for his recommendations, I decided to get the Maison du Japon (Php 340). I went for simple flavors that’d be hard to get wrong, it’s a burger just topped with Gruyere cheese and caramelized onions. He mentioned that they were still in their ‘test kitchen’ stages and that we had to give them feedback so they’d know what to work on before they open shop. It wouldn’t be fair to me to really review this but I’ll write about it anyway because I had a good time. When the order arrived, it was way bigger than I expected. Each order came with a bowl of rice, fries, salted edamame and unlimited cabbage salad topped with sesame dressing. Their dressing was so good, it was full and far from watery.

Umami Hambaagu House
I learned here that the difference between Japanese burgers and Western burgers is that they’re made up of a mixture of ground beef and ground pork. I was first confused about the color of the meat when I cut into it, it looked a little paler than usual but it was good none the less. They have an option where if you add Php 20, they’ll serve you a Chicken burger instead. The Maison du Japon was pretty safe compared to the other options on the menu (yep, they have one topped with foie gras and another topped with wasabi mayo cream) and because I ordered safe, safe is what I got back. Umami serves glammed up comfort food; the patty was tender and cooked just right but it lacked a bit of salt. The onions were sweet and the gruyere was rich but it didn’t make up for the lack of seasoning on the burger. After I added a bit of salt and togarashi, all was well in the world.

Umami Hambaagu House
The Roppongi Hills burger (Php 420) has a generous helping of thick, truffle cream slathered on top of the burger. This was pretty darn good and Carina was tons happy with it. We definitely appreciated how generous they were with the sauce. It just smelled really nice.

Umami Hambaagu House

Umami Hambaagu House
Mikka ordered the Takeshi’s Castle (Php 345) which reminded me so much of takoyaki, since it practically shares the same uppers. As a Okonomiyaki inspired burger, it’s topped with Bulldog sauce, bonito flakes, nori and Japanese mayo. The Takeshi’s Castle was a sure-fire winner. It was the tastiest of the bunch and the one I’ll probably order the most. The balance of tastes was perfect and it wasn’t overpowering at all, it kept the meat interesting all throughout the meal.

Umami Hambaagu House
Umami has a well-rounded drink menu fit to rival tambay milk tea houses and coffee shops with their selection. It’ll take many visits to be able to taste ’em all. With their meals, both Carina and Mikka got this Roseberry Fruit Tea. I’m not sure if it’s actually called that but it’s rose + blueberry tea with basil seeds. I’ve been a long time fan of basil seeds thanks to my Tita Ginger, they have this transparent jell-o like coating that makes them fun to bite on.

Umami Hambaagu House
After we wiped out the entire table, it was time for dessert and since we were pretty filled up, we all decided to get dessert drinks. I ordered the Green Tea Latte topped with Cheese and both Carina and Mikka got the Grilled Caramel Macchiato. As coffee drinkers, they were both satisfied with their drinks.

Umami Hambaagu House
My tea was excellent, kind of reminiscent of the Happy Lemon Rock, Salt and Cheese concotion but warmer and richer some what. The cheese top reminded us all of Lord Stow’s Egg Tarts. Mmm, I’d imagine it’d be perfect to drink on a rainy afternoon.

Umami Hambaagu House
Before we left, we took a bunch of pictures and admired the interiors some more. The owner, Charles was so nice, he gave us custom made Umami Keep Cups. I first learned about Keep Cups through Carina when she ordered some on the net from Australia. What makes it so cool is that it’s the first barista standard reusable coffee cup and it’s made from 100% recycled material. These ones all had the Umami Hambaagu House logo in the cup band. Awesome!

Umami Hambaagu House
Verdict: I know the place isn’t open yet but without even an edamame bean ounce of bias, I think it’s a definite must try. If you want to know where it is, you’ll have to comment and ask! The owner wants to try something else in terms of marketing it so the guys at Pepper.ph told me not to publish its location. I’m allowed to tell people though but just if they ask. Read Pepper.ph’s Umami post and win an invite to taste test Umami before it opens to the public.