MY FRIENDS in Manila talk about one thing lately — Yabu. It is this Japanese restaurant that apparently makes the “best katsu in the world.” This is according to my friend Gino. Okay, so my sister and I decided we must not leave Manila without seeing what all the fuzz is about.
We went to the SM Aura branch of Yabu. It was 3 p.m. and the restaurant was full while around 70 people were waiting to be seated and I am starving like a marvin. This katsu better be worth the wait. They put us on the list and tell us they didn’t know how long we will be waiting. They promised to call our cel when we are up next. So we walked around the mall while waiting for their call.
We only waited for 20 minutes and we get seated. Their restaurant is spacious and beautifully designed. Their servers were very able and attentive but the service was quite slow (maybe because I really had to eat already).
We look at the menu and see there were other Japanese dishes on the menu. But as first-timers, we were there for the katsu and the katsu only.
The server presents the “Yabu ritual” where diners crushed their own sesame seeds and mixed in the katsu sauce while waiting for the food. Quite interesting and fun.
I ordered the authentic katsudon made the Yabu way, which included delicious cutlets dipped in egg and covered with their freshly made panko, Japanese rice, smothered with their special Yabu sauce and eggs.
The Koshihikari Japanese rice, miso soup, fruits (watermelon and pineapple), and cabbage salad were unlimited. Their servers came around frequently to check if you wanted more. I especially like the wasabi dressing for the shredded cabbage.
According to Yabu, authentic katsu should always exude a bright, crisp, golden color and a delicious aroma. Their panko is made fresh every day resulting in long, light, crispy flakes. Authentic katsu means generous slices of kurobuta pork that is no less than 0.5 inches. It is cooked in precisely 165 degrees Celsius and allowed to rest properly to ensure the meat retains its natural juices and tenderness. Yabu uses 100 percent canola oil that ensures the breading is crispy while not greasy. It allows the natural flavors of the pork to shine through.
Everything they say is true. Each bite of the perfectly cooked katsu proves they know exactly what they are doing!
In the Yabu website, it is said that Katsu in Japanese also means “to win” or “to be victorious.” And that is how I would exactly describe my Yabu experience. It was simply victorious! Looking forward to my next Yabu visit, I’d be lying if I said I’m going to try their other food next time.
I’m still getting the katsu. I’m not done with it yet. Yabu, FTW!