Monday, November 26, 2012

One Fine Day at Watami

It was my Color Coding Day, and I was at Watami early. Really early. But it seemed like a good idea to spend the day by the bay. And it was.

Recently opened only this November, Watami brings its extensive line of signature dishes and drinks to the Mall of Asia. An established and well known chain in Japan with a string of regional successes in Malaysia, Hong Kong, China and Singapore, Manila finally gets a taste of Watami's cool take on contemporary Japanese cuisine. I was invited along with other bloggers to sample Watami's signature dishes, and no color coding traffic scheme could  hold me back. Nope, not on this fine day by the bay.

Watami's friendly and courteous staff welcoming diners, and early birds like me. Immediately, one can sense the genuine warmth and hospitality from the staff, consistent with Watami's mission to provide a "relaxing dining experience." The Bistro Group's first Japanese restaurant in its growing portfolio of brands, you can expect great service and awesome food.

Inside, Watami's modern yet casual interiors makes one feel  comfortably at home, with the sleek and clean lines providing a cool backdrop to one's dining experience.

As the staff prepared the place for another busy day, I was offered a refreshing Iced Coffee, and waited for the other bloggers to arrive. And in no time at all, Watami was ready and all set for lunch.

Marilen Matibag, Manager, and Chef Rene Warlito prepare to welcome diners to Watami and its "Ishokuya" dining concept based on a relaxing dining experience with Watami's original dishes and signature beverages.

With over 700 restaurants in Japan and other worldwide locations, Watami is one of the largest food and beverage groups in Japan, with an emerging  regional presence in Asia.

And now, Manila is part of the expanding global network of Watami and its brand of Japanese Casual Dining.

To start the meal, a round of Watami's signature beverages arrived, with Watami's large thirst-quenching Green Citrus Green Tea (P 145), a refreshing start to any meal at Watami. Not too sweet, just right with a subtle citrus note.

Next, we sampled Watami's other signature beverages, like the Apple Berry Soda (P 195) and Fresh Kiwi Squash (P 150). The carbonated soda adds a peasant kick to the sweet fruit base, refreshing and definitely new and different.

The Lychee Grapefruit Soda (P 150), interesting blend of flavors and a real visual treat. From the initial round of non-alcoholic beverages, one can already feel and taste Watami's creative flair in combining traditional flavors with refreshing new executions. And with more than 65 non-alcoholic beverages to choose from, you won't run out of choices.

Then, the first round of starters arrived, the Assorted Sashimi (P 425) with fresh tuna, salmon, shrimp, scallops and seaweed. The subtle sweetness and the firm yet melt-in-your-mouth texture of the sashimi indicates the premium quality and freshness of the dish. Elegantly plated, and typical with most Japanese dishes, each dish feeds the eye before the palate, a true sensory experience.

The Watami Caesar Salad, fresh crisp lettuce with rich Caesar dressing further enriched with a lightly poached egg and crunchy, salty bacon, ideal for sharing.

The signature Watami Salad (P 350), a healthy mix of fresh crisp vegetables with grilled chicken and shrimp topped with Watami's inventive tuna mayo in a flavorful sesame ponzu dresing. Add some fish roe and thin strips of nori for a truly colorful and unique salad, a meal in itself or for sharing.

Watami offers quite an extensive range of fresh salads, including this fresh salad topped with crab meat and shrimps to go with your main meal. As with all of Watami's dishes, quality and freshness drive the "Ishokuya" experience.

By this time, the place was packed for lunch. And as we finished the last of the starters, the mains arrived next...

The Pepper Beef Rice in Stone Pot (P 190), a unique dish where you mix all the ingredients as the beef slowly changes color as it cooks in the hot stone pot. The fun, interactive feature of this dish adds to the total experience, and the tender beef with vegetables add so much flavor to the rice dish.

Watami's Salmon and Vegetables in Rice Paper (185), fresh spring rolls with salmon and lettuce wrapped in thin rice paper. The crisp vegetables and the soft, tender salmon provide contrasting flavors and textures that make this dish so interesting and refreshing. The sweet chili mayo adds the finishing touch...

And you simply can't stop with just one roll...

Next, the Assorted Skewers (P 295) featuring sweet teriyaki glazed chicken wings, chicken breast, rolled pork with mushrooms and beef and spring onion rolls.

The perfectly grilled skewers are moist and juicy, and the assortment is a cool way to sample Watami's yakitori selection.

Tonpeiyaki (P 275), similar to an omelette, stuffed with pork, cheese and cabbage. Hearty and filling, another cool side dish that's refreshingly different.

Watami Ramen (P 345), with succulent pork slices and special pork broth with a nice cooling heat. The rich flavor of the broth complements the noodles, a winning stand-alone dish that's a complete meal in itself.

The noodles are firm with a nice chewy texture,  a perfect bowl.

Watami also offers dishes for table-top grilling, like the Self-Grilled Short Ribs (P 295), premium spiced beef with potatoes.

And as the aroma surrounds the table, the sizzle and changing colors of the beef is yet another sensory experience that whets your appetite and in just a few minutes...

...the short ribs are done to your liking. Grilled to medium rare, the short ribs are tender and juicy, a real treat for meat lovers.

Watami also offers several hot pot options, including this vegetable and seafood hot pot cooked right on your table. 

Watami's Gomoku Rice Pot (P 345) topped with spring onions and fish roe, a kamameshi rice dish that's cooked right on you table. The burner has a set timer, and once the flames are out, the rice pot is ready. Moist and flavorful, just perfect.

A second round of drinks included Watami's Milky Green Tea (P 165) and Green Tea Yakult (P 150), refreshingly different, a perfect pair for the next round of dishes. I enjoyed the sweet, creamy and sour Green Tea Yakult, with the addition of Yakult adding a nice zing to the drink.

The Crispy Chicken Wings (P 195) with sesame seeds and sweet teriyaki glaze. Awesome crisp outer layer over tender and juicy chicken. And the flavors and textures are simply amazing bite after bite, it's almost impossible to stop.

Then, some truly unique dishes from Watami's inventive kitchen arrives next, the Bolognese Pizza (P 315) topped with meat and an egg. The richness of the egg and the crisp crust again provides contrasting textures and flavors for another unique dish only from Watami.

And finally, Watami's Pizza Topped with Teriyaki Chicken (P 215), the rustic and comforting flavors are a delicious blend of east and west in one dish. The range of dishes from Watami  suggests a creative playfulness resulting in some truly unique dishes.

And as we neared mid-afternoon and enjoying the remaining Watami-style feast, the desserts arrived. Watami's Macha Ice Cream (P 75), clean, simple and subtle flavors in a rich ice cream...

...and Watami's parfaits...

The Chocolate Parfait (P 195) and Mango Parfait (P 225), both with crisp corn flakes for added texture, just perfect to cap a perfect meal, and completing one's Watami experience.

After a long feast, it was quite difficult to recall which dish was a favorite, since I enjoyed everything. Really. The range of dishes should give you an idea of Watami's casual dining concept, combining traditional elements and flavors with contemporary techniques and executions that delight all your senses. From the extensive beverage selection, the appetizers, the mains, all the way to desserts, all winners.

And that was one fine day by the bay...

Special thanks to Chef Rene Warlito and The Bistro Group's Marketing Director, Mitzi Navarro, for an awesome lunch. And spending a day at Watami was truly an experience, and one of the rare times I didn't mind the color coding traffic schemes... not at all. Have a meal, or better yet, spend a  day at's a pretty cool and delicious way to catch the Manila Bay sunset.

Watami Japanese Casual Restaurant is located at the 2nd Level, Entertainment Mall/Veranda, Mall of Asia, 1300 Pasay City or call 836-7141 for inquiries. 

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  1. Everything looks so delicious!The chicken wings are seriously crisp.

    1. Hi Angie, another awesome feast, thanks for stopping by!

  2. aww..i missed this :( hope they offer another 50% off promo for Watami hehe :)

    1. hey Berylle, awesome lunch! Hope to see you in the next food trip!

  3. OHHHHH my goodness I love this so so much! You're so lucky for being able to taste all the amazing selections from the drinks to the sashimi, sides, grilled meats, hot pot, desserts... Everything! This is why I love Jap food there's just so much great things to eat. Hope to get to eat at a Watami chain one day

    1. hey Winston, cool place, great food! Great to hear from you bud!

  4. It was such a lengthy lunch, but it was time well spent. Nice seeing you again, Gerry! :)

    1. hey mich, it was my color coding, but it was one fine day...great seeing you there mich!

  5. Sarap nila tingnan. Yayayain ko family ko riyan. Para libre. hehehe

    1. Hi Miranda, sounds good, you should definitely try it! Thanks for stopping by!


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