Yabu has been hyper in its advertising efforts in the recent months. Word-of-mouth marketing plus social media, I think, are working at best as this Japanese restaurant also known as “the House of Katsu” is gaining popularity in fast track. Katsu translates to “cutlet” in English, a piece of meat that is deep-fried and breaded. Yabu serves a variety of food in this ordeal, and according to the first page of its menu, the restaurant aims to “elevate beautiful dishes to a high level of culinary art.”
Last January 12, Louie and I treated four of our friends to Yabu’s branch in Robinsons Magnolia. It was a super delayed birthday treat! (We did not find common free times from our busy schedules since June of last year.) It was also a great time to catch up with these good friends and for the first time try out what Yabu offers.
Review of Yabu: House of Katsu (Robinsons Magnolia)
Yabu does not exactly give a traditional Japanese vibe but is the stark opposite. This restaurant has a completely modern appeal and a comforting vibe. Look around and you’ll see packs of diners who look like they’re really enjoying their meals. Impression from outside was good as much as the inside. The atmosphere was just chill with warm brown tones. The walls were decorated with huge anime pictures, and everything in the dining floor was organized appropriately.
Service attendants were efficient. Food came out relatively fast. While waiting for our orders and amidst our conversations, the waitress guided us on how to smash the black sesame seeds and mix them with the special Yabu sauce (thick black dip) to add more flavor to our food. Pictures were gladly taken. Also, because our friends were hinting that it was Louie’s birthday, one of the waiters took notice and gave him a slice of hot chocolate cake with a small scoop of chocolate ice cream for free!
I wished I could tell you about the same positive feedback other bloggers are exclaiming on Yabu’s tonkatsu. But from the word “ton” (pork) itself, that plainly would not be possible because I’m just not favorable of eating this dish. Neither did the rest in the group.
I had the healthy choice (Vegetable Mixed Set, PHp 290) and met the most disagreeable fried vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Japanese silken tofu with crispy bread crumbs. Given the pedigree of ingredients, you can probably figure out the one major drawback here. Yup, it’s the grease. The vegetables were so soaked in oil that the strainer became a very useful tool in getting the excess oil out.
The katsu set came with a salad made up of sliced cabbages we can ask the waitress to refill. We could add either vinaigrette and/or sesame dressing to it. I did add both but they tasted not so fine still. Another disappointment was the hot miso soup, which was even lucky to have been sipped through for three spoonful.
Opposite me was Jeatte who ordered the soft shell crab set (PHp 480) coated with fresh panko. I thought the food presentation looked nice so I tasted it as well. I swallowed my bite slowly, realizing that it’s not only me whose food has gone wrong. There was also something in the soft shell crab that I didn’t like, and I was left unsure if it was mostly just the texture of the crab’s insides or all ot it.
Louie ordered the Menchi Katsu Set (PHp 350), served also with unlimited Japanese rice, cabbages, miso soup and a bowl of fruit. The highlight of this dish was the superior ground beef and pork minced together with Yabu’s special spices and stuffed with cream cheese. The picture on the menu may seduce your taste buds, but the actual thing was not at par.
Price for Value: ★☆☆☆☆
Compared to other Japanese restaurants, in my experience, everything has been condescending except the food. And if food is what I pay for, then I’m sorry to report that it’s not worth the price. If you have not been to Yabu, I’m not discouraging you to try their entrees. Somehow this elegant place is worth visiting once in your lifetime.