One of the many reasons why I love Bistro Group is their awesomeness in bringing in impressive concepts in Philippines' restaurant scene. Late last year, Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant opened its first branch here in the country as a new addition to the Bistro Group's line of concepts such as Italianni's, T.G.I.Friday's, Bulgogi Brothers, Ma Maison, Village Tavern, and more.
Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant is an international concept that has over 700 branches worldwide. The number itself will clearly speak how this concept is well perceived by people all over the world. Watami has 2 branches now in the Philippines located at SM Mall of Asia and at the New Glorietta in Makati.
Japanese food lovers like me could only rejoice in the fact that Watami offers affordable and great tasting Japanese food in an ambiance that rivals high end restaurants in the country. Weeks after opening its first branch in SM Mall of Asia, we were able to try some of their dishes that will surely earn the raves of foodies here in Manila.
Prior to visiting Watami, I was told that it's just a casual restaurant that dishes out affordable Japanese food. I do not usually encounter the words Japanese food and affordable in one sentence so I was a bit skeptical about it. Upon entering Watami, its spacious and sleek ambiance suggests feeling of sophistication that usual Japanese restaurants I have been to is known for. For me, it doesn't look like they are serving affordable food there, but when I checked out the menu, I was impressed. Indeed, everything is affordable. Well, not the hole-in-the-wall kind of affordability, but it's affordable as compare to other Japanese restaurants.
Although I'm a hardcore carnivore, I really do not mind being bombarded with salads especially if it's as good as the salads they are dishing out at Watami. We have tried their Caesar Salad with Hot Spring Egg (Php320) and Sapporo Seafood Ramen Salad (Php375), both were equally satisfying in itself considering salads are usually just an add-ons to the main meals. Hence, watami's Salads are great for those who are watching their weight and calorie intakes.
While the two salads impressed me, it was the restaurant's namesake, Watami Salad (Php350) that I enjoyed the most. It was aesthetically pleasing in the eyes and the palate. Pork cutlets, shrimps, tuna, crab roe, greens, and the whole she bang is the culmination of all good and indulging in a salad.
Since I usually chicken out in anything spicy, I was a tad apprehensive in trying out Watami's Ramen in Spicy Miso Soup (Php380). But lo and behold, after much prodding from fellow foodies, I gave in and surprisingly, I liked it. The spiciness was something I could tolerate and enjoy. Good thing I was talked into trying it out otherwise I could have missed a great dish.
Of the numbers of dishes we have tried in Watami, I could say that Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot (Php190) is definitely one that was worth taking the long drive to SM Mall of Asia. It was so good that most of us agreed it's better than those restaurants specializing in beef pepper rice. It was that good. Beef and Kimchi Rice in Steam Pot (Php245) on the other hand was also good, it kind of reminds me of the one they serve at Bulgogi Brothers.
Tonpeiyaki (Php295) which comprise of pork, cheese, and cabbage covered with egg was another favorite. It's like omelette in its simplicity but it was definitely way way better than that. Japanese mayo and okonomiyaki sauce made it all the more savory in flavor with interesting texture.
Interesting dish that was served to us was Gomoku Pot Rice (Php345). It's a kamameshi rice dish topped with fish roe which entails waiting for the fire to burns out before digging in. Though it is not something I could recommend to those who are mad hungry and on the go, it's something that is enjoyable if you have the time and the patience to wait for it.
Watami's Assorted Skewers (Php295) reminds me of the one they serve in a small restaurant in San Juan, but it's a tad tastier. Their Crispy Chicken Wings on the other hand beats most of the Buffalo wings I have tried. Not only its crispiness was enjoyable, its flavor was equally delightful as well.
Another dish that entails cooking at the table is Watami's Self Grilled Short Ribs (Php295). It also reminds of the one they serve in Bulgogi Brothers and both are tender, savory, and satisfying. You can do the cooking for yourself but you can always ask help from their friendly staff and they will cook it for you.
There are several Japanese pizza that was served but it was the Bolognese Pizza (Php315) which I get to enjoy the most. Being a thin crust lover that I am, Japanese Pizza works really well for me and with the incredible toppings resembling that of bolognese pasta on top with egg, this dish I must say is not to be missed.
Aside from impressive line of dishes in their menu, Watami also offers wide variety of drinks. From alcoholic drinks, to fruit juices, to yakult and matcha concoction drinks, they all have it and more.
One wouldn't need refillable drinks when they opt of Watami's Big Drinks (Php 145) which variety composed of Green Citrus Green Tea, Green Citrus Tea, and Green Citrus Cola. For interesting flare you can opt for Apple Berry Soda and Fresh Kiwi Squash just like what my good friend The Food Dude and I did.
Other interesting drinks includes Mango Snow Mountain, Lychee Grapefruit Soda, Green Tea Yakult, Milky Green Tea, and Mango Yakult.
It's not as if the dishes and drinks are not good enough, Watami dishes out great line of desserts as well. We are dead set on trying out their matcha line of desserts but unfortunately those were not available so we have to settle to Chocolate Fondant Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (Php200) and the parfaits: Chocolate (Php195) and Mango (Php225).
I have yet to visit Watami's branch in New Glorietta because I heard the place is also conducive to long hours of leisurely meal over great dishes, but my experience at their Mall of Asia branch was great. The staff were friendly and very accommodating. I love the fact that with their affordable dishes, many will be able to enjoy great tasting Japanese food without burning hole in ones' pocket.
Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant Philippines
2nd Level, Veranda Bayside
SM Mall of Asia , Pasay City
G/F The New Glorietta
Ayala Center, Makati
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/WatamiJapaneseCasualRestaurantPhilippines
Every Tuesday and Wednesday for the month of January 2013, diners with Bistro Group Premiere Card will have a 40% discount off the TOTAL bill. Please see fine prints for terms and conditions.