Yasubei is a small restaurant we would never have encountered if my mother hadn’t suggested we go have lunch there rather than at the Mall of Asia to escape the maddening crowd.
Located at the Aseana Power Station – just behind a Shell service station – along Macapagal Blvd., this tiny Japanese eatery offers all the usual dishes. However, don’t turn your nose up at this point. They may do all the usual suspects on a Japanese restaurant menu, but these are all done exceptionally well.
Case in point is shown at the top of this post: the Special Tenju (spelled tenjyu on the menu) goes above and beyond the usual tendon in the sense that it’s practically overflowing with good stuff – very good stuff, as a matter of fact. You get two fat tiger prawns, a butterflied asuhos (whiting), a strip of batter-fried nori, a battered crab-stick (and a fat one, at that!), a thin and crisp slice of battered sweet potato, and two thin, crispy, and utterly moreish slices of battered potato. The batter is quite thin and so well cooked that it fries to a crisp on the outside even as the seafood and veg are steamed to perfection within. The prawns and fish had no off-putting “fishiness” to them and were both sweetly savory. The sweet potato I can live without, but I swear upon everything holy that the potato made me crave for more. Those two crunchy slices were like the ultimate in fried potatoes.
You can opt to have all your tempura on rice as above for P 280.00 or have the fried treats served on a separate plate with rice and soup on the side as a set for P 320.00.
Also beautifully done was the Tonkatsu Set which consists of a bowl of rice (topped with some sesame seeds, nori, and dried anchovy bits), a bowl of miso soup, and a crunchy breaded pork cutlet with a plate of shredded cabbage, cucumber, and carrot dressed with a Kewpie mayonnaise dressing.
Appearances can be quite deceiving and this is true in this particular case. The cutlet may not look like much, but it was incredibly delicious. Tender, sweet-savory pork thinly covered with a pepper-infused panko coating that crunched loudly when bitten into. Truth be told, the little dish of Bulldog sauce that came with the dish didn’t seem necessary as the meat was so flavorful. The cabbage slaw was good, too, providing crisp refreshment on a hot day.
Oyakodon – rice topped with poached chicken and lightly scrambled eggs – is one of the most underrated Japanese dishes because it sounds so simple. When done well, however, it becomes quite a treat. Yasubei’s oyakodon is one such dish: the chicken is poached in a sweet soy and mirin sauce with sweet white onion slivers and fat chunks of fat shiitake mushoom. Beaten eggs are poured into the chicken mixture and allowed to set just a little before being poured over rice. The heat of the rice cooks the eggs further to the consistency of proper scrambled eggs and a sprinkling of shredded nori is added as the dish is served.
Yasubei is a tad out of the way for us, but we will certainly be back as the food is really good and the prices are most reasonable.