Saboten by Raintree Restaurants is a Japanese restaurant which started in Shinjuku, Tokyo in 1966, specializing in KATSU—a breaded, deep-fried meat patty. A number of friends had been telling me how incredibly good their katsu is. Last Saturday, I have finally made my way to Saboten Philippines in Glorietta 5 for a meal, with only the best recommendations on its menu. So, do they have the most amazing katsu cut ever? I’ll just say that Yabu and Kimukatsu (two katsu restaurants I’ve tried) have some serious competition over here. 😛

Review of Saboten Japanese Cutlet (Glorietta 5, Makati City)

Ambiance: ★★★★★

Saboten Japanese Cutlet offered a comfortable and tranquil environment. The ambiance was cozy with bright lighting portrayed in the pictures below. As there are separators in between tables, you can be rest assured with some privacy. That said, this is a good restaurant that’s probably suitable for business meals even. The decorations were decent, neither exaggerated nor luxurious. I recommend booking a table in advance to avoid long queues during peak dining hours.

Service: ★★★★★

Service was generally competent and friendly. The staffs bowed the Japanese way to show respect every time they left our table to go after our requests. Calling for their attention was easy as they were scattered around the L-shaped dining room. They served food quickly (even for the refills of miso soup, rice, etc.) and acted professionally. I certainly have nothing to complain about. 😀

Food: ★★★★☆

When presented with several hot items on the menu, the best way to decide what to order is to ask the manager himself. As obedient customers, we gladly followed his recommendations. 😀

We had the Mille-Feuille Katsu with grated radish and ponzu sauce (PhP 1130), served on a tray with multiple dishes arranged in a highly delectable and aesthetic manner. As typical katsu sets tend to be, it came with unlimited refills of miso soup, rice and shredded cabbage. The “stars” of the plate must be the Mille-Feuille (130g), two Deep-fried Shrimps, Loin Cutlet (65g) and two Rolled Cutlets (Choice of Asparagus, Cheese and Plum).

The fun challenge was keeping everything balanced. In lieu of the refreshing shredded cabbage as a side bite, the heaviness of the meat could be cut through. Outside, crumbs of the cutlets were golden brown in color, crispy with enough saltiness.

Looking ZOMG-awesome, the Mille-Feuille (translated to “a thousand leaves” in English) was twice more delicious than the standard loin cutlet variety. It’s Saboten Japanese Cutlet’s original recipe of tender juicy and very thinly sliced layers of pork.

For the rolled cutlets, we chose the cheese and asparagus flavors and appreciated them more as we dipped the pieces into the DIY sauce (ponzu sauce with toasted sesame seeds mashed via a pestle). The sauce did a neat job in complementing the taste of the cutlets.

The deep-fried shrimps (or shall I say, tempura) were nothing extraordinary, but it was worth mentioning that the shrimps used were really fresh. Served with an overly rich tartar sauce, it was one Japanese comfort food done well!

My favorite non-pork item had to be the Tuna Katsu Set (PhP 425)—Saboten’s original cutlet with Sashimi Grade Maguro. It was truly wonderful with a crispy coating and moist center. Deep-frying time has been adjusted to emphasize the taste of maguro. It’s best enjoyed with Saboten’s special wasabi soy sauce.

As a thickly structured drink, the Ripe Mango and Passion Fruit (PhP 195) was quite energy-boosting. I liked that the flavor wasn’t at all artificial and the sweetness did not go overboard. Rather, it was like exploding with natural tropical flavors of ripe mango plus a hint of passion fruit.

With a very delicate and subdued flavor, the Matcha Lychee Almond Cake (PhP 210) has been a good way for me to soothe my tongue after a flavorful, heavy meal. This cake was a creamy one but I’m sad to report that I could barely taste the almond and lychee out of it. Good points? It was moist, airy and not overly sweet.

On the other hand, the Sesame Sansrival (PhP 210) was a bit disappointing. Until my last bite, the sesame taste didn’t come out prominent against the sansrival (buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews). The consistency was okay but I just preferred that it turn down a bit on the nuttiness and bring the sesame aroma more to the next level.

Price for Value: ★★★★☆

It takes a great restaurant and a talented team in the kitchen to stay relevant and popular over four decades to date, and that’s exactly what Saboten Japanese Cutlet has done. This is an ideal spot for quenching katsu and comfort Japanese food cravings, for either solo dining or small groups. You won’t realize what you’re missing until you stumble upon it.

Given that food quality is high and portion of set meals is good to share with 2-3 people, I guess eating in this restaurant is not such a bad deal for the price. I give a different/separate rating for the desserts though. At least based on the cakes we tried, 2/5 stars is justified by the small slice and my unmet expectations.

Ground Floor, Glorietta 5, Ayala Center, Glorietta Complex, Makati City
For inquiries, call (02) 6250909
Date Published: 10/20/2014
18 / 20 stars

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105 Responses

  1. stacy | Tsinoyfoodies.com

    Wow the place looks nice and spacious. Passed by this whenever in the area. Maybe I’ll stop to check it out na nga hehe. Although you gave a low rating for the cakes, I still want to try it cause the name and appearance is enticing hehe.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, this place can fit a lot of people. Visit next week when you’re free. 😛 Try the newest items on their menu as we did. I do want to pace myself and save more room for dessert next time we go.

      Reply
  2. mr_jeng

    I didn’t know that Saboten served Mille-Feuille Katsu. I think Kimukatsu started serving those in the metro but I am just unsure. Anyway, I liked how they started in Serendra and had some grated radish dishes and grapefruit and it was an instant hit. I remembered trying them out also in SG before trying them here and I must say that the quality and the taste is way better here in Manila. Memories. And because of your post, I am inclined to pass by Saboten next week… Arrgh!!!Craving!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      There are three sets featuring the Mille-Feuille Katsu and we chose this “engrande” one with the most number of variety good for 2-3 people. Maybe the reason why you didn’t know is that it’s just new. 🙂 I’ve always passed by Serendra seeing Saboten and wondered what their specialties are. Now I know, and yes, I say their food are pretty great. Haha try them!

      Reply
  3. Kathy Kenny Ngo

    I love how the meat are all soft and easy to chew but filled with flavor. Love the details of this post. It’s really nice. It really gives people the right idea of what Saboten is about.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks, Achi Kathy! 🙂 I just didn’t prefer the tenderloin / loin katsu alone. The original katsu tends to be boring than the more creative ones with new flavors and textures.

      Reply
  4. Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    The food looks great and I love how clean & bright the restaurant itself is!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Yeah, the presentation of the food was really great! If you want to eat in a modern Japanese restaurant and have a sleek experience, you will not go wrong with Saboten. 😀

      Reply
  5. Amie

    The Matcha Lychee Almond Cake looks awesome! Just the name of it makes me feel tempted to go and try it.

    Reply
  6. Louise

    My dad loves Japanese food and I will definitely take him here next year when he comes back for his holidays. We’ve never tried eating in a Japanese restaurant here in the Philippines because he thinks it wouldn’t taste good but thanks to this post because it’s very informative. It gave me enough knowledge about the restaurant and somehow will be a great help in planning for a date with my dad. I will get back to you once we try them.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh, Louise, you and your dad would love it here. 🙂 There are actually so many good Japanese restaurants to try in Manila. One of the best is Saboten, no doubt. Thanks for visiting and dropping a comment here.

      Reply
  7. Ericleen | ILoveNegros.com

    The place looks very relaxing. I want the colors. I want the design for my room. hehe.
    My GF likes Japanese food and she’ll really fall in love in this place. I hope they can put up a branch in Bacolod

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha the ambiance is almost zen-like, with the light color of wood used in the furniture. Yes, the theme will be relaxing for a home. Add some indoor plants and instrumental music on the background and you get yourself a place you can call heaven (on earth)! 😛

      Maybe they’ll branch out to the other cities and provinces next time. It’s pretty early to tell for now.

      Reply
  8. Hazel Ann Lo

    From the first photo, I instantly fell inlove with the place, then my eyes widened as I saw the price for the Katsu but thanks for mentioning that the serving is good for 2-3 persons, if the meal was for 1 person only, I would totally put this restaurant on my *WHEN I’M RICH* list. But overall, because of how you described the place, I would definitely put this on my MUST TRY list whenever in the Makati area.

    Do you have an idea if they have other branches around the Metro?

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha there’s a lot of katsu for even 2-3 people to share actually (if your appetite / stomach size is same as mine). Leftovers make a great lunch the next day. 🙂

      Yes, Saboten has a branch in Serendra, BGC. You can visit that one if you’re nearer.

      Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yes, with the servers bowing like Japanese, before I left I also bowed to them. Service was perfect – done casual and efficiently. The staffs here know the menu too well, so they can answer your questions and they will get you rolling with your order right off the bat. 😛

      Reply
  9. Dee

    This place looks amazing and is making me miss Asia. All the food looks very yummy especially the Almond Cake.

    Reply
  10. Kay @ The GO Mamas

    Your pictures are wonderful and I wanted to sit right with you to enjoy this meal. I love to eat at very clean places with great service, so it looks like this place hit the mark. Look forward to other reviews.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Thanks for your comment, Kay! Oh, there are plenty of seats available and our table was even spacious for just the two of us dining that day. Definitely you can join us next time (say hi to me!). 😀

      Reply
  11. Dems

    I have dined here once and agree with most points, especially about the Matcha Lychee Almond Cake. I did like my Saboten Special set and their matcha ice cream.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I would have preferred the matcha ice cream than the cake but then I changed my mind because there must be nothing new or different about matcha ice cream they have. Anyway, the cake was a good try. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Ling Tan

    Makati city is beginning to sound and look really appealing! That’s a pretty authentic-looking Jap restuarant, with delicious looking katsu sets! Thanks for sharing the review and pics!

    Reply
  13. Fred

    I have not eaten in Yabu yet and that is more accessible for me. As tempting as our pictures are though, Glorietta 5 is alas too far for me, esp with all the traffic! This may have to wait for after the yearend holidays before I can give this a try.

    Reply
  14. Tamika

    The Passion Fruit and Mango and cabbage looks very delicious. I am putting this place on my bucket list as well. I have to make a trip up your way soon. Thanks for tempting me with delicious food to start my morning.

    Reply
  15. Franc Ramon

    I like that the place is well lighted so it would be easy on the eyes. Their food choices looks really delicious too. Now if they can only add the size of the dessert.

    Reply
  16. Fred

    That salmon katsu I have never seen or tasted before. It looks so good!!! Very curious to give it a try.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      I’ve tried the salmon katsu before of Tempura. I can’t make a comparison between the two (tuna vs salmon). They’re both very delicious for me. 🙂 Try it. You won’t leave hungry!

      Reply
  17. Tiffany Yong

    Japanese food has always been something that’s close to a luxury meal than a staple meal for me. And good ones are usually unforgettable. I’m more of a sushi person than a meal~

    Reply
  18. John

    The place looks so clean so I’m assuming the foods are too. And though I’m not a fan of Japanese foods, the ones here make me wanna go and try them.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Right. That’s what I always do when going to a restaurant and I’m not sure what to order–if my boyfriend or my mom isn’t around–because they are always the ones who take charge in calling out food to order for me.

      Reply
  19. mindy

    I’m not a fan of most Japanese food but i find the deep fried ones okay (so unhealthy, i know) so whenever i HAD to eat Japanese food (you know, when it’s someone’s treat or something) when the sushi menu’s kinda sad i always go for tempura/chicken katsu. The dish in this restaurant look quite appetizing!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Oh I think you like less Japanese food maybe because a lot of it is raw. The deep fried ones are surely cooked ones so they’re a totally different story. 😉

      Reply
  20. jo

    I think the major thing here is if the service is great. You gave it 5-stars! 🙂 The taste of the food then comes next. And now you make me drool over the tempura! I wish I could visit them soon. I actually haven’t been to Glorietta 5. LOL!

    Reply
  21. Violy

    Everything looks yummy!! I rarely visit A japanese resto, would love to get the chance to try this one. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Reply
  22. FamiGami

    As a lover of Mille-Feuille, I don’t recognize it in any of the pictures… The cake looks more like mille-feuille than any of the other food items do. The food looks amazing though, glad you enjoyed the experience!

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Good plan. 😛 I also like the layout of this place as it’s somewhat similar to “my restaurant” that I used to design and manage in Restaurant City. Haha it’s an app on Facebook.

      Reply
  23. Khushboo

    Deep-fried Shrimps look really tempting. I would love to sample some. Nicely reviewed

    Reply
  24. Ann Bacciaglia

    I have not tried Japanese food yet. This food looks so amazing it makes me want to try some as soon as possible. The decor looks really nice and bright. I wish it was not so far away.

    Reply
  25. Bonnie @ wemake7

    What a nice looking place to sit and relax and eat a great meal. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Rochkirstin Santos

      Haha yeah it’s about the same time here as we don’t have time difference. When reading blog posts about food, I feel hungrier too especially when seeing pictures of food I really like to eat. 😉

      Reply
  26. Pingerrain*Priscilla

    I love Japanese food and the Mille-Feuille katsu looks interesting. We have Saboten in Singapore, so I guess that would be my next destination on my cheat-day menu.

    Cheers~

    Reply
  27. Nile

    The food looks great! Well, I’m hungry now. We don’t have a Japanese cuisine around here… most of the good stuff is a little over an hour away to drive to.

    Reply

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