Sunday, January 4, 2015

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant: A Gastronomically Explosive Feast for the Family

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Your friendly neighborhood Pambansang Blogger ng Pilipinas, together with my wife and kids, had a pre-Christmas meal at one of the fab Japanese restaurants in the Metro located inside one of the popular malls in Mandaluyong city, or is it Pasig city?

Well, we really don't know since we don't care much of the city boundaries as long as we know the landmark establishment housing the restaurant. When we take a taxi, we don't really tell the driver to take us to the address of a location but normally we just name the mall or the building we plan to go to. Since EDSA Shangri-La Mall is one of the widely known malls, except for some confusion from the hotel nearby, or the other hotel located in Makati, as long as you say EDSA, the taxi driver will surely get you there easily without any need to mention the exact address.

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant
in the Philippines belongs to the Bistro Group of Restaurants alongside other brands like Italliani's, Bulgogi Brothers, T.G.I.Fridays, Village Tavern and so on. The restaurant also has other branches located in Makati and Mall of Asia but the one at EDSA Shangri-La Mall is probably the newest since I don't see it yet on their Facebook page.

The family decided to try out the restaurant during our pre-Christmas bonding time after we had a family portrait taken at one of the photo studios at the nearby SM Megamall. Why did we transferred from one mall to the next when SM Megamall also has a lot of new restaurants? I guess we just wanted a change of scenery since we've been going to the same mall ever since it was built because it was the nearest and most convenient mall to go from our Pasig city residence aside from Robinson's Galleria.

Though we dine almost anywhere in Makati, BGC, Eastwood, and even as far as Paranaque, we decided to just spend the day nearby since the traffic condition during the holiday season was undeniably so frustrating that it isn't justifiable to go far when there are already many choices nearby.

What can I say about the place? Wow! There's plenty of room for a huge crowd to get comfy in since all the seats are leathered.

We chose to seat away from the glass windows since we wanted a place where we can take better photos. The glare from the glass windows would have been against the light for our cameras so even though the restaurant crew suggested to seat us by the window, we declined and chose the seats far from the sunlight.

From the table arrangement, we can see there's a bit of privacy when seated at these areas.

They also had something like a circular seating area, and further inside you'll see a glimpse of the counter area leading towards the kitchen.

Since we are not very good using the chopsticks, we opted using the more familiar spoon and fork. No matter how many times I try to use the chopsticks, I still have trouble using them.

There were plenty of smaller plates and bowls already available in one corner of every table where the chopsticks, tissues and condiments are also placed.

As usual, we would order our own choice of dish from the but would always make sure we order something different from each other. Since we are a family, we can share our food among ourselves thus allowing us to be able to try out as many dishes as possible. We ordered one dish per person plus another extra dish for everyone as well.

A few photo ops while waiting for our food to be served. It's a good thing I can now ask my kids to take our photo. I'm not very fond of selfies so I don't usually take photos of myself unlike my wife who probably has adapted that habit from her colleagues at work.

I ordered the Ebi Tonkotsu Ramen since I loved the presentation of the dish and prefer something hot to sip and warm me up from the air-conditioning in the mall. The same way I prefer to buy something cold when I'm  hot under the weather bumming on a beach or trekking an upward path towards the peak of a mountain.

I could never get tired of having ramen if it was served to me occasionally but would not want it on a daily basis. I'm the "flavor of the day" kind of guy that doesn't like having the same kind of food everyday so it must either be alternately served or I wouldn't want any.

But the Ebi Tonkotsu Ramen was so delectable that I wouldn't mind having it twice in a week. I would have eaten the prawn-on-stick since it was coated crunchy but I guess I am used to peeling off the outer shell.

Beef Rice with Hot Spring Egg in Tokyo Style (Php 285)
My daughter ordered the Beef Rice with Hot Spring Egg in Tokyo Style. Just like everyone else, she let us tried it out too and just as she declared, it was actually the best tasting dish among the sex dishes we ordered.

Come to think of it, the dish sounds like just a more formal version of the Pinoy "tapsilog" of beef, rice and egg but they must have some special cooking method and plenty of secret herbs and spices that was put into the dish to make it taste like that.

Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki (Php 355)
It's not my first time to try an Okonomiyaki, or the Japanese pancake or pizza as they say, but the Hiroshima Style Okonomiyaki that my second child ordered could have been a lot better than the rest if only it was not a bit salty for my taste. But my son said it was just right for him. He was able to finish the dish ahead of all of us even though it was the last one to be served.

Nagasaki -Style Ramen in Pork Broth (Php 365)
My youngest ordered the Nagasaki -Style Ramen in Pork Broth. My other kids keep teasing the two of us since we often have the same taste of many stuff from food to most other favorites. We often think alike too, even to a point of coming with the same bright idea at one moment during that day, and many would say he could be my Mini Me because nobody would deny the resemblance between us.

It was a coincidence we both ordered ramen that day, but I was a bit disappointed with what he ordered since it didn't really looked like the same as the photo in the menu, but that though quickly disappeared after we tasted the dish.

Sliced Beef and Onions with Yakiniku Sauce (Php 295)
The Sliced Beef and Onions with Yakiniku Sauce was my wife's choice. I think she ordered this because the menu said it was a "new" dish. Since this was not the first Japanese restaurant we've been to, we made it a point to always order something different from the usual takoyaki, tempura, or sashimi. But we still order the usual favorites especially when we are challenged on finding out if it will be better than what the other restaurants serve.

Though the Sliced Beef and Onions with Yakiniku Sauce had a distinctive flavorful taste, there wasn't really anything special to it since I've tasted something similar already. The kimchi was satisfactory enough and was a perfect add-on on top to balance the dining experience. My wife agreed to my review without any second thought.

Shrimp Tempura Roll (Php 295)
Lastly, we also ordered the Shrimp Tempura Roll for everyone to share as well. Since there was eight pieces, our usual sharing would be two pieces each for the three kids and just one piece each for me and my wife.

Satisfaction guaranteed for this dish. I would say its a level higher from the usual similar dishes we've tried.  The ingredients are noticeably fresh and top-notch in quality.

We don't really need to eat so much since we've been getting too fat already due to slower metabolism at our age. I keep telling myself to avoid eating too much since I've grown from a medium (M) to an extra large (XL) waistline ever since I started being a food blogger. With so many invites to try out new dishes and restaurants, I might break my XL waistline record.

2015 will be another great year for us, and with so many new restaurants with exciting new concepts and ideas being introduced into the country, I need to manage my diet and "cheat days" with strict discipline even though I rave to try out each one of them.

Overall, we had a wonderful time sharing our food, so we would like to thank Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant for a great early dinner with the family. It was too early in the afternoon to be called dinner, and it was actually our second time to dine that day after the lunch we had dining on vegetarian food and splurging on the traditional Halo-halo and ice cream afterwards. I guess we are just real foodies that couldn't really stop ourselves from giving in to the dining temptations around us. We always make it a point to dine at a new restaurant every now and then.

Anyway, our kids are still too young to worry about overeating to their hearts' delight. They should enjoy their youth and indulge on every great dining opportunity. We want them to experience a "flavorful" life and "taste" the rewards of our efforts.

I'm sure there will be plenty more gastronomic adventures coming soon for us, and thus hoping we could forever cherish these bonding moments together. So until our next restaurant dining story, be sure to visit Wazzup Pilipinas again for another sumptuous feast.

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