Casual dining is a description most restaurants use to convey a relaxed dining experience with food worthy of fine dining but reasonably priced. Watami, with its structured furnishing and linear interiors, hits the right note. The people behind this global food chain call it ishokuya or scene + meal + restaurant.
|I lost the facade photos so we'll have to make do with this artsy pile of dipping plates.|
The menu is a different thing, though. It's obvious that they specialize in Yakiniku or grilled meat, there's one too many dishes on the list and you feel a bit overwhelmed, your first reaction is to order what you're familiar with. Which is why the first thing we ordered was our go-to Japanese appetizer, Gyoza served on a hot plate. This turned out to be a bit oily. I guess we should have stuck to the the boiled edamame.
We also had the Watami salad for starters. Though it's different from the Singapore version, the salad had the same concept of putting together a winning combination of fresh greens, steamed broccoli, corn, nori, corn, tomatoes, fried dumpling wrapper strips and bits of chicken teriyaki drizzled with roasted sesame dressing.
The hubby had cold soba- wheat noodles dipped in Mentsuya, a mixture of soy sauce, sake (Japanese rice wine), mirin (cooking wine), kombu (seaweed) and katsuomobushi (dried bonito flakes).
I also ordered the Katuboyaki or grilled fish head. It was a bit overdone with a lot of the skin burnt black. The bitterness from the charred bits get in the way of enjoying the fish. Which was a pity because they had great ponzu sauce (citrus-based soy sauce).
I used the ponzu sauce on the Yakiniku Pork Belly instead. Each slice had a right amount of fat which kept the meat from drying up which made it a perfect partner for the slightly sticky Japanese rice. I ended up eating like a Pinoy in a Japanese restaurant. As my cousins would say #RicePaMore!
Address: 6th Level Shangri-La Plaza Mall - East Wing Shangri-la Plaza Mall
Shaw Blvd. cor. EDSA, Mandaluyong
Telephone: (+63 2) 570-1719