Restaurants in Manila: Yabu & Botejyu

Yabu: House of Katsu

My wife and I were looking for a place to eat in Robisons Magnolia when we came across great reviews on Zomato (Philippine’s alternative to Yelp) for the restaurant Yabu: House of Katsu. We stopped by the restaurant and were seated right away. Was this restaurant as good as they say if there is no wait time? The answer is Yes!

We’ve been to a lot of places around the world that serve Katsu (breaded meat cutlet) that is not quite like Katsu in Japan. So we were surprised to find authentic Japanese Katsu in the Philippines. We soon discovered that Yabu was started by local Philippine businessman John Concepcion who wanted to bring back the quality Katsu that he experienced in Japan. He partnered with chef Kazuya Takeda, who the head chef Tonkatsu Takeshin,  Michelin Star: Bib Gourmand rated restaurant in Tokyo to bring the best Katsu to the Philippines.

The best part is that it is affordable. An average meal can range from 260-575 PHP (5-11USD). Authentic premium katsu places in the US can charge over 20 USD. The menu also offers local treats such as watermelon and mango shake. We ended up getting a variety plate of tonkatsu (pork cutlet) and seafood.

How is the food?

  • Great! Yabu uses Kurobuta, also known as the black Berkshire pig. Kurobuta is the world’s FINEST pork. It is also called the “kobe beef of pork” due to its rich marbling, softness and flavor. It’s not only about the breed but the feed. In the US, we tend to feed livestock soy and corn. In Asia, they feed the livestock vegetable scraps, which has been documented to affect the taste and texture of the meat
  • As with any proper Katsu restaurant, Yabu offer different cuts of pork. Rosu, pork loin or Hire, the leaner tenderloin.
  • For the traditional tonkatsu, Katuzen offers up a ridged bowl of toasted sesame seeds and a wooden pestle. You’re meant to grind the seeds yourself into a rough paste, popping them on the ridges of the bowl and releasing a wonderful, toasty aroma. 
  • Yabu serves Koshihikari (Japanese shortgrain) rice. This isn’t special in the US, but most restaurants in the Philippines serve different varieties of rice.

Would I recommend Yabu?

Absolutely. For the price, fast service, quality of food. It can’t be beat. It’s like getting Japanese Katsu without having to fly to Japan. You can also get a watermelon shake which is not typically offered in Japan.

Botejyu: Real Osaka Style Okonomiyaki

Kansai cuisine in the Philippines??? Yes! Botejyu is a okonomiyaki specialty restaurant chain that started in Japan in 1946. As we walked around Eastwood Mall, we noticed a Japanese restaurant. Is that the same Botejyu that is found in Japan? It seems that Botejyhu has expanded to the Philippines offering Osaka favorites such as Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake that is similar to a fritata), Takoyaki (ball shaped Japanese snack made of Octopus, and Kushikatsu (Katsu on a stick).

I don’t normally crave Okonomiyaki, but I was curious to see if the restaurant was up to par. It was delicious! The food and service was great. If you are craving Japanese food that’s not sushi, ramen, or katsu, check out Botejyu.

Manila is home to three of the top ten world’s largest malls. It’s no surprise that Manila has many different types of restaurants to choose from

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