Tonkatsu. According to good ‘ol Wikipedia, Tonkatsu translated to English is Pork Katsu… Wow.
Katsu is short for Katsuretsu which translates to cutlet. So tonkatsu is pork cutlet in english, that sounds better. It was originally considered Yoshoku, or a Japanese version of European cuisine. Deep fried pork? Sounds more like it’s an American dish to me (‘Merica!).
So as you may have surmised, almost every entree in this restaurant is deep fried. Check that, all entree is deep fried. A curry dish exists, which is a Tonkatsu served with rice and curry sauce on the side. Pork, chicken, beef, even vegetables are battered and covered with panko (breadcrumbs, stay with me this is going to be a mini Japanese lesson). These are deep fried in the right temperature until golden brown and they all look the same. Seriously, only the prawns are saved from this.
Then there’s the Menchi which according to this screen-grab from Yabu’s website is:
First off, the Katsu Sauce
You are given a bowl of white and black sesame seeds together with a mortar for you to grind them to a powder. Good idea, sesame seeds are some of the most healthiest food items in the world.
Too bad they make you mix steak sauce with them. It’s katsu sauce but I’m tasting something very familiar here (okay, for me, it tastes like A1 steak sauce).
These other things in your table
The taller ones (we’re missing one here, they sort of jammed us into a makeshift table due to the many patrons this particular night) are dressings for your shredded cabbage. There’s sesame (not here yet), shoyu (soy sauce), and wasabi (I recommend this).
That inside the “grouper” is salt. You use it to flavor the fruit.
There’s supposed to a mini white barrel thing there in the left where they put the A1 sauce, oh Katsu sauce I mean. But since we were in a makeshift table, they gave us rationed portions in generic bowls instead.
And then there are the spices which you may use to your liking.
Tonkatsu set (Rosu)
I had to go for the star, the famed pork cutlet. You have two choices: Rosu (porkloin, Japanese lesson continues!) or a cut with a thin layer of fat and Hire (tenderloin) which is a leaner cut. I chose Rosu. C’mon, fat cooked in fat is awesome but in moderation of course. This is good! Yabu really knows their Tonkatsu! The meat inside that golden brown crust is so moist, juicy, and packed full of flavor.
Complementing the Tonkatsu in the set are the following: A bowl of sticky rice (free refills!); Shredded cabbage (free refills!); Two slices of fruit (Yabu describes it as a bowl of fruit, that it not a bowl of fruit); Tsukemono (literally “pickled things”); and a small bowl of Miso soup (so good).
One of Yabu’s claim to Katsu fame is that Tonkatsu expert Kazuya Takeda of Tokyo was tapped to train all their cooks the proper way to deep fry every protein they can think of. For those who might think this is a bogus claim, here’s a link to a Wall Street Journal article from way back featuring Chef Takeda.
Hire and Seafood set
Not really the best picture ever, sorry about that. We originally ordered the Seafood Set 2 (the one with Salmon Katsu) but they gave us this instead. We were hungry, so we went with it.
As you can see, aside from the prawn you really cannot tell what any other ingredient is until you bite into it. There is a scallop, an oyster, dory, hire, and an eggplant in there. I told you this cooking style makes them all look the same.
Not a good idea to make Scallop Katsu. The prolonged cooking to make the crust golden just made the inside feel like a rubber chew toy. The oyster didn’t taste fresh.
Ruminations… Over a mug of Sapporo
GO FOR THE TONKATSU. Yabu also boasts that it offers “the Kobe beef of Pork” which absolutely makes no sense. If you want, go ahead and try the Kurobuta premium Tonkatsu set. The black berkshire pig, purported to be the “world’s FINEST pork” (wow, they’re really selling this with the quotation marks) is imported straight from Japan which means it was most probably frozen. Personally, I don’t want to pay extra for frozen pork no matter how good it’s supposed to be.
They have Katsudon too, that’s Katsu served atop a healthy serving of rice in a bowl and topped with egg and Katsu sauce. Always a home run. Just try to stay away from the scallop katsu (just a waste of a fine product), but try the salmon.
Almost three years old, and this location is still packed for dinner service. The House of Katsu remains as a very popular locale. They have 8 locations in Metro Manila (that I know of), 5 of which are in the major SM Malls.
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