Of sushi and other Japanese comestibles...
Aside from Filipino cuisine, I'd say Japanese food---more specifically, sushi and sashimi---is what I could happily consume every day without complaint. I had to mention those particular types of Japanese comestibles, because frankly, yakitori isn't something I find myself craving for. Even ramen and tonkatsu, while I do enjoy eating every once in a while, simply aren't up there on my favorite food list.
Eating at sushi places always makes me giddy happy as I anticipate another gastronomic show of Instagram-worthy dishes and flavors that make me swoon in ecstasy. Not all of these Japanese spots offer great plates that are affordable, though. Enter Yumi, a Japanese restaurant offering quality fare at a price that wouldn't make your pockets cry.
Yumi means beautiful in Japanese, and this is reflected in the restaurant's interior as well. The first time I tried Yumi was in Greenhills, and it was tucked away in a mezzanine floor above Munch Town in Promenade. It was too far a place, and I was more than happy to learn that they opened a branch that was closer in proximity.
At Century City Mall, Yumi is located at the 4th floor, right across the fairly new upscale food court dubbed Hole in the Wall. Its sleek wooden interior is clean and spacious, and it has a little mezzanine level inside, as well as an al fresco dining area offering a cityscape view.
I was particularly looking forward to this meal since we were about to try several of their new dishes. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm always excited when I know I'll be devouring some sushi.
The first dish to come out was a salad unlike any other I've seen. Arugula and alfalfa, one of my favorite food combinations, together with some red radish are ensconced in a tunnel of tuna and salmon sashimi that's topped with their special Yumi sauce. It was refreshing as it was pretty, and the combination of the components was marvelous.
Next came a maki filled with kani (crabstick) and tamago (sweet egg) that's wrapped in flamed Norwegian salmon with a crown of ebiko (or maybe tobiko). Trap one in between chopsticks and mop that drizzle of Japanese mayo before taking a satisfying bite.
Three sea scallop dishes were served, one is in sushi form wrapped in a thin slice of cucumber instead of the usual nori, the second one is beautifully arranged in a cocktail glass with some greens and fried kani, finished off with a smattering of ebiko. Despite the title, the dressing is somewhat subtle, but still a fantastic play of textures in the mouth. I'll get to the third one in a bit.
Yumi has this habit of combining my favorite ingredients. Case in point: Angus beef and uni!! Who wouldn't fall in love with that sensual sea urchin on top of tender beef. I wouldn't mind having this in entrée form. I need more of that Angus and uni, please.
The third and perhaps the most unforgettable scallop dish I've had is this Hotate Motoyaki, baked panko crusted sea scallops topped with Parmesan cheese. The explosion of flavors from just a single bite is amazing! The sweetness, the subtle acidulousness, and the textural crunch are all together a reflection of the sea it comes from.
These porcine rolls may be smaller than your average sushi, but they surely pack a punch. Each piece is adorned with diced Shiitake mushrooms, and one could easily---and happily---go through an order or two, with good reason. There's a certain balance of earthiness and sweetness, followed by a trail of savory goodness that's easy to appreciate and enjoy.
The long-time debate on fat vs. sugar, with the dial indicator slowly bordering on the sugar end of the spectrum, has some people running away from carbs. Health buffs have since turned to quinoa as a substitute and this cauliflower rice. Here at Yumi, they've managed to make the latter their own, mixing chopped cauliflower with the usual elements you'd expect in a Japanese chahan (fried rice). The result: a familiar tasty flavor profile on the healthy side that would have you finishing a whole bowl sans the guilt.
Another pork belly dish was presented, and this time the braised meat is slathered with some sweet savory sauce. This is the type of viand that makes it hard for people to avoid red meat and fat. Each slice is a celebration of all things sinful and good, you'd be hard pressed to recall all the reasons you might have for that diet.
This was the only dish I didn't get to enjoy as I couldn't taste the oyster I was looking forward to devouring. Maybe it was there, however little it was, but the fried tempura batter made it hard for me to identify it. Or maybe I just got the short end of the stick this one time. No matter, this couldn't dampen my spirits with all the other lovely food around. On to the next...
What's special about Yumi's tempura? Aside from the usual tempura sauce, they're served with lemon and two kinds of salt: volcanic and green tea. This is how they actually do it in Japan. Squeeze some lemon onto the salt, dip your tempura, and enjoy the refined symphony of acidic and salty flavors in your mouth. It was hard to decide which salt is better so I go on alternating between the two. Trust me, when you taste this, you'll find it hard to go back to that "ordinary" sauce.
As much as yakitori doesn't usually excite me, it's another thing when it's crisp chicken skin that's impaled on the stick. Who can ever say no to chicken skin? And to have that Yumi sauce (which I might add, goes really well with just about anything) poured all over it? Give me more, and I'll start my diet tomorrow!
Of course one shouldn't leave Yumi without trying their signature sushi, the Unagi Foie Gras. It's a genius creation that uses another one of my favorite combinations. I have no words, only an intense appreciation for the one behind this ambrosial victual.
I am not much of a matcha person, so among the two desserts, I veered towards the Creme Brulée. The custard base is light and devoid of saccharinity, and topped with a hard layer of caramel. Take each bite with a portion of the orange slice for good measure.
Oh, and the best thing about Yumi is their Sushi Tuesday! It's Buy 1 Take 1 on all their sushi all day!
Spot: 4th/F Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave. cor. Salamanca St., Makati City
Contact No.: 403.6507