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

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