Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Yabu for Oyster Katsu (Breaded, Deep-fried Oysters)

I've read reams of articles, both online and in print, raving about Yabu, which bills itself as the House of Katsudon. I remember my mouth watering from descriptions of its bestselling tonkatsu--breaded, deep fried pork cutlet. I've always preferred my pork-chops straightforward, finding that coatings detract from the porcine goodness. Paired with unlimited rice and a saucer of soy sauce or fish bagoong with chilies and vinegar or calamansi, I'm all set. But I'm open to being proven wrong, so of to one of the biggest malls I go.

On my first successful visit (I retreated  a few days earlier--the restaurant was packed!), I went all out and ordered the Kurobota pork. From a quick search online, Kurobota pork is beloved for its flavorful, tender, pink-hued meat with high fat content. Kurobota is to pork what Wagyu is to beef. This heritage breed is not originally from Japan, but imported  Berkshire pigs, one of the oldest breeds in England. Was I blown away with my first Yabu experience? No, I wan't impressed. It was soft. It looks unusually pink. But that was it. Not even a dash of wasabi could save the dish for me. It might be excellent for many people, but as taste is highly personal, I guess I'm not a tonkatsu person after all.

I enjoy grinding the sesame seeds to be added to the special katsu sauce while
waiting for my order. It feels soothing and therapeutic
Many of my office-mates have been to Yabu, and they urged me to try the seafood katsu, especially the oyster katsu. And so, in the name of research, I gave Yabu another go a month later. This time I ordered the hire and seafood katsu mix, which consisted of pork cutlets, black tiger prawns, cream dory, scallops, eggplant and pepper. The fish and scallop were oh so fresh, thus soft and flavorful. The breading was just right. I appreciated more the pork this time. I ordered salmon separately. It was a tad too rich for me. I love the crunch of the breading and delicate and soft meat. The best for me was the fish and the scallop. They were light and crispy outside, soft and juicy inside. It was later that I realized I wasn't able to order the oyster katsu.

I ordered sake, and I love the way it was presented--the ice cooled the drink
without diluting the flavor
A few weeks later, I went to Yabu for my third visit after watching a fashion show with my niece. I ordered Hiroshima jumbo oyster set, which came well recommended by my colleagues. I now know why. The oysters were ginormous. More importantly, they were very soft and flavorful. The sauces and the batter do not overwhelm the oysters. I can't decide which among the sauces I like best.

In sum, I like the oysters katsu the best. It has a very strong flavor profile, which suits my very Pinoy taste. Yabu is consistent in its excellent service--I've always enjoyed being served by their courteous and efficient staff.

Yabu branches are located in SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM Southmall, and Robinsons Magnolia

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Naga City's Avenue Plaza Hotel for Laing and Banoffee Crunch

While looking at my archives, I decided to share with you some of the more memorable dishes I had while staying at Naga's Avenue Plaza Hotel. What I love about the hotel is that their food is delicious, not the usual bland characterless meals most hotels serve. They also serve excellent desserts.

 I love their laing--it was creamy spicy salty, and best with big mound of freshly cooked rice.

Their banoffee crunch, an English dessert pie made from banans and toffee, was sweet and creamy. It was hard to stop at one serving.

Happy eating!

Avenue Plaza Hotel
Magsaysay Ave., Naga City
(+63) 54 473 999

Monday, July 29, 2013

Koronadal City's Arpochi Seafoods for Pampano Sinigang

No idea where to eat? Ask the locals. This was never truer when work found me in the southern city of Koronadal, formerly known as Marbel, the capital of South Cotabato. They vouch for the quality of the food, and warned us that we would be spending the equivalent of Manila prices.

It was quite a challenge looking for the restaurant. Arpochi is located in a residential area, in a house, and save for its signage, no one would know it is a restaurant. Another group followed us, many bearing gifts. It seems that the restaurant is a go-to place for functions as well. There was more. There was no menu. I'm not sure if they have set meals or rely on what's available in the market, but we proceeded to order anyway. We picked fish, shrimp, and squid over native chicken and crabs. Please note that although Koronadal is not along the sea, it is only a couple of hours from the port city of General Santos.

It may not look it, but the sinigang na pampano (pompano in sour broth) was the best of the lot. The fish was fresh and sweetish, and thus did not require any complicated cooking techniques or thick sauces. 

The prawns cooked in butter and garlic were likewise fresh, although I'd prefer they use less sugar. I can still remember the warm, umami goodness of the fat from the heads of the shrimps--really delicious. The sauce was so good we drizzled it on our rice. 

The adobo-style squid was also good. The squid were soft and the dish sweetish from the onions.

Arpochi Seafood and Restaurant
Jaycee Avenue, Koronadal City
(+63) 83 228-3418

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Laguna's Kanin Club for Crispy Liempo and Aligue Rice

First, let me share with you that I'm writing this while doing intermittent fasting, meaning I eat only within eight hours a day, which ended at 3 pm, and now five hours have passed. I'm feeling quite lightheaded, but I need to shoulder on, since I've been remiss with this blog, and to make up for weeks of no posts I'm sharing with you a wonderful dinner we had at the Sta. Rosa branch of Kanin Club.

I've heard of this Filipino casual dining chain before, but I haven't tried it, until a colleague suddenly had an urge to eat it's version of crispy dinuguan. It took us quite a few missed turns before we found the branch at Nuvali, and was I glad it was teeming with people. A packed restaurant is always a good sign.

For starters, we tried the bacon-cut liempo that tastes like freshly popped chicharon. It goes well with the rich aligue rice and you could cut the richness when dipped in spicy sauce.
"the crispy liempo-light and crunchy belly strips ready for dipping in three kinds of sauces"
"aligue rice--fried rice sauteed in crab fat"
The liempo-aligue rice combo for me was already a winner. Definitely this is one reason I'd be back

To appease the craving of my officemate, we ordered the crispy dinuguan. It was interesting texturally, reminding me of the version we tasted at La Preciosa.  I love the sour, salty, and crunch mix.
"crispy dinuguan--pork deep-fried to a crisp then set in a semi-dry stew of pork blood"

We also ordered the seafood karekare, which was rich and flavorful, even without the accompanying shrimp paste. The squid (always a fave!) was buttery-smooth, and the sauce was made with real peanuts.
"seafood kare-kare--squid, muscles, shrimp, and vegetables cooked in peanut/anatto sauce"
If you're one big group craving for flavorful Filipino dishes, Kanin Club is for you.

Kanin Club
Paseo de Sta. Rosa
Sta. Rosa, Laguna
(+63) 049 544-0332

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Le Petite Camille's Pomelo Salad

One good thing about having foodie friends is that you won't run out of ideas on where to go when eating out. A few months ago I met my favorite public defender in swanky Greenbelt 5, and we decided to go Vietnamese. Le Petite Camille's interiors was bright, sexy,and airy, not unlike stepping into a worldly person's bedroom. The staff were efficient, the service fast. We ordered summer rolls/goi cuon (fresh and flavorful), the pho combination (beefy, fresh vegetables, a tad less warm when served), and my favorite: the pomelo salad/goi buoi.

The pomelo salad is my friend's favorite, and now I know why. The dressing was addicting! It was a perfect combination of sweet, sour, and salty. For this alone, I'll return.

Tip: ask the staff to go easy on the MSG if you are so inclined.

Le Petite Camille
2F Greenbelt 5
Legazpi Village, Makati

(+63) 02 728-4965