Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Rare Affair at the House of Wagyu Stone Grill with the Legendary Saga Wagyu

Premium A5 Wagyu with a rare marbling grade of 11 from Japan's Saga's a rare affair at the House of Wagyu Stone Grill.

The House of Wagyu Stone Grill introduces the ultimate steak experience with its Saga Prime Wagyu, pure breed Wagyu from Japanese black cattle, in an event dubbed as "A Rare Affair." And indeed, it was. It is increasingly rare to experience the distinct richness of pure Japanese full-blood Wagyu, and rarer still to sample A5 Japanese Wagyu with a marbling grade of 11. But now you can, at House of Wagyu Stone Grill.

Located at the fourth level of the new 2 ECOM Center at the MOA complex, the House of Wagyu Stone Grill brings its signature line of premium Wagyu down south. The selection includes the legendary and authentic Prime Wagyu from the Saga Prefecture, one of Japan's very best.

House of Wagyu Stone Grill's "A Rare Affair" starts with a sampling of A5 Saga Wagyu Sashimi (L), bite-sized pieces of the legendary beef, and Oysters Rockfeller (R), along with savory morsels of Foie Gras Mousse with red wine foam and candied apple, and Goat's Cheese Terrine with grilled bell pepper, raisins and walnuts.

Fine wine and champagne were provided by the Philippine Wine Merchants, featuring Montes premium wines from Chile and Champagne Henriot Brut Souverain from France. Elegant hors d'oeuvres and fine wine, and a setting sun on Manila Bay as a stunning backdrop...just can't get better than that.

But it does. The setting sun serves as a cue to enter the House of Wagyu Stone Grill, with its subdued yet warm lighting replicating the setting sun's afterglow. The interiors exude an understated and muted elegance, the perfect setting for the perfect steak. This is, after all, a rare affair like no other.

That evening, it was all about the beef. Not just any beef, but prime quality Japanese beef from the famed Saga Prefecture. The indigenous Japanese Black cattle, a pure breed known for its excellent marbling and the white color of its fat, sets it apart from the rest, with its signature buttery richness. All the others are just, well, beef.  

Japan's Saga Prefecture is known for its fertile lands, clean water and mild climate, all crucial elements required for breeding high-quality beef. Local agricultural cooperatives raise pure breed Japanese Black cattle in small farms, usually limited to just 34 heads per farm, with each receiving the maximum care. The indigenous Japanese Black cattle are grain fed for over twenty months, consisting of rice straw, barley, corn, and soybeans. It is this unique approach to cattle care that results in the signature "Sashi", or fine marbling, giving it that legendary melt-in-your-mouth feel.  

Authentic pure breed Wagyu is known the world over for its texture, flavor, and aroma. The melt in your mouth texture and the rich flavors are the immediate and most noticeable characteristics of pure breed Japanese Black cattle, but it's the aroma that elevates it from the rest. The subtle aroma releases delicate notes reminiscent of sweet peaches and coconuts that intensifies as you chew the buttery beef. The aroma is released at a certain temperature, stays in the meat, and released once more when chewed adding to the richness in flavor. Quality is ensured by a meticulous grading system by the Japanese Meat Grading Association, based on meat quality grade, ranging from 1 to 5 depending on marbling, meat color and shine, firmness, and texture; and yield grade, with "A" as above average and "C" as the lowest. Based on the criteria, experiencing A5 grade Wagyu represents the highest standard in Japanese Wagyu. Marbling is also given a scale, from 1 (almost lean) to 12 (perfectly marbled), and this is evident in the intensity of the fine white specks on the meat. That evening, we had the rare opportunity to experience A5 Prime Wagyu with a marbling grade of 11 from the Saga Prefecture, both rare and as close to perfection as you can get.    

Dinner begins with the House of Wagyu Stone Grill's Cream of Carrot Soup, a hearty and thick broth with intense and concentrated flavors, elegantly plated and presented.

This is then followed by a refreshing Scallop and Shrimp Salad with Strawberry Vinaigrette, with crisp greens topped with the briny sweet notes of plump shrimps and scallops, capped by layers of sweetness and tartness from the vinaigrette to complete the dish.

Then, the much awaited highlight of the evening, 180 grams or 6 ounces of A5 Prime Wagyu Ribeye with a marbling grade of 11 from the Saga Prefecture...pure beef bliss.  Simply season with salt and pepper, and nothing else. You really don't need much for beef this good. Seriously.

The signature stone grill is then laid on the table, and you're all set for a unique and rare dining experience. Each diner gets his own individual lava stone grill, heated to 400-450 degrees for 6-8 hours, so you can grill your steak to your own preference. But first, you need to prep the lava stone. Simply slice off a thin layer of the signature pure white fat, and spread on the hot lava stone. And almost immediately, a loud sizzle accompanied by steam indicates that the lava stone is ready...

To best enjoy your dining experience, gently place your steak on the lava stone for not more than thirty seconds, depending on the degree of your preferred doneness. I go for a medium rare, that's around 15-20 seconds on one side. Then turn it over once (yup, just once and no more), for another 15 to 20 seconds. Both the top and bottom portions of the steak are then seared, leaving a pink juicy center for that perfect medium rare finish.

Grilling your own steak, your own way, right on your table, is a unique experience in itself. Grilling Prime A5 Prime Wagyu Ribeye with a marbling grade of 11 from Japan's Saga Prefecture makes this even more memorable and special. The simple act of table top grilling becomes a full sensory experience, as you see, hear, smell, feel and taste one of the world's best beef right in front of you. It definitely is an experience, almost sublime...and only at House of Wagyu Stone Grill.

And the flavors are exactly what you'd expect from beef of this rare and high quality. Seasoned with just salt and pepper, one can taste the depth and richness of the beef, releasing even more flavor as it melts in your mouth. Someone suggested dabbing just a touch of wasabi to balance the richness, and another also advised resting your steak on a bowl of rice, so the rice absorbs the fat. But whatever you decide, nothing can diminish the rich flavors of the legendary Wagyu from pure breed Japanese Black cattle.

You may think the sampler portion of 180 grams or 6 ounces of A5 Prime Wagyu Ribeye is light, but the size is deceptive. The richness of the beef is immediately filling, and going for more can be too much of a good thing. Beef this good is best enjoyed in modest servings, where you can appreciate and savor each and every bite, hot off the lava stone.

For dessert, Olive Oil Ice Cream with Strawberry and Mango Mille Feuille with Vanilla Cream, capped the epic feast on a high note. Dining at the House of Wagyu Stone Grill has always been a unique experience, and indulging on the world's ultimate steak, the A5 Prime Wagyu Ribeye with a marbling grade of 11 from the Saga Prefecture is, without a doubt, truly one of those bucket list experiences.

House of Wagyu Stone Grill is located at the 4th Level, 2 ECOM Center, Harbour Drive, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City or call 553-8436 for inquiries and reservations.

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