Watami brings modern Japanese cuisine to Glorietta
Ruth Sindico (The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2013 - 3:57pm

MANILA, Philippines - Long after our interest in anything Japanese has abated, we enrolled in a Japanese language program. We took the extramural class for, to quote Eugenides, for the simplest and dullest of reasons: we wanted to read Japanese literature in the original text.

One module down and another which we didn’t do well in, we realized that every time our sensei (teacher) uses the word tabemas (to eat) in its many conjugations, we automatically think of (what else?) Japanese food. There have been numerous times when a classmate and I would go to the small Japanese restaurant located inside the campus to satisfy our craving. The dishes are as good as your P150 can get you.

We were reminded of this when we went to Watami, the latest Japanese restaurant to open in Metro Manila, and discovered that you don’t have to spend all that much to enjoy authentic Japanese dishes.

“Most of our ingredients are imported from Japan and Hong Kong to make sure that our dishes remain consistent with the quality and flavor of Watami’s branches in Japan and other Asian countries,” Watami Chef Noboru Ozeki told us.

Chef Ozeki is not only an expert in Japanese food (he has opened several Japanese restaurants in the country), but also knows the kind of Japanese food that Filipinos want.

He has observed, for example, Filipinos’ penchant for rice dishes. This is why when they were choosing the dishes to be included in the Philippine menu, he made sure that it included what Filipinos love.

Coming together

We asked Chef Ozeki what Watami means and he told us that it’s more of a concept that celebrates “coming together in one place to enjoy good food.” He even drew the kanji for us.

Bistro Group marketing manager Michelle Navarro added that Watami’s concept is rooted in ishokuya—a balance of the elements of good food, great ambience and good service that can bring people together.

“Watami wants to spread smiles and ‘thank yous’ to the world,” she said.

Tabemashiouka!

That’s “Let’s eat!” in Japanese and that’s what you would probably be saying when you see the appetizing photos on the menu.

“And that’s what we do—serve the dishes as they look on the menu,” Chef Ozeki said.

We were first served the Watami Salad (a combination of lettuce, broccoli, onion, corn, cherry tomato, shrimp, broccoli tossed in sesame ponzu dressing, which is imported from Japan) and Crispy Chicken Wings, which was spicy and flavorful.  We know some people who would want this served with a bowl of rice.

We ordered the assorted Sashimi, which we loved, along with the Chicken Cutlet with Scrambled Egg Sauce, Pork Tonkatsu, and Nagasaki Ramen, which the restaurant’s PR consultant had described so aptly: it has the flavors of the sea. It really does.

Chef Ozeki then had us taste the Roasted Squid and Roasted Norwegian Mackerel and expertly showed us how to take away the fish bones using chopsticks.

Navarro informed us that apart from the rice and seafood dishes, the restaurant’s best-sellers include the Shrimp Tempura Roll, Salmon and Vegetable in Rice Paper, Beef Pepper Rice in Stone Pot, Pork Rice with Egg Yolk in Stone Pot and the Beef Rice Bowl with Hot Spring Egg. The restaurants also offers Self-grilled Ribs and Sukiyaki.

We were already too full when it came to dessert, but couldn’t pass up a taste of the Macha Parfait and the Macha Tiramisu, which were both delicious.

As we left the restaurant, we were reminded of what Navarro said about Watami’s “mission” and realized that it has accomplished them.

Watami branches are located at the second level of the veranda/bayside section of the SM Mall of Asia and the ground floor of the new Glorietta. 

BEEF PEPPER RICE BEEF RICE BOWL BISTRO GROUP CHEF OZEKI CHICKEN CUTLET CRISPY CHICKEN WINGS JAPANESE STONE POT WATAMI
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