I was a little shocked at first when one of my friends mentioned that there was a new Japanese restaurant at Southmall called Kumori. That really threw me for a loop! My other foodie friend and partner in crime who is always updated with all things Kumori did not mention any branch opening in Southmall, so I was excited to find that I could not have that delicious Harajuku cheese cake anytime I wanted. No more going to Landmark for my Harajuku fix!
But upon further questioning, he actually meant “Komoro” and not “Kumori.” And that made me quite the sad panda.
Komoro is a fairly new Japanese restaurant at the basement of SM Southmall in Las Pinas. I am not familiar with this outlet, but it’s the first time I saw it here in the south. It’s found right beside Pizza Hut, if you’re coming from the front entrance just go down the center stairs or take the elevator, and you’ll see it right there.
The pricing on the menu shows that it’s smack dab competing with the Japanese fastfood fighters like Saibachi, Tokyo Tokyo and Karate Kid. It’s a traditional kind of menu, though, so its closest competitor is really Saibachi. Tokyo Tokyo and Karate Kid are a little more on the fusion side. It’s slightly cheaper than Tokyo Tokyo, but not by much and is about 50 pesos more inexpensive than Tokyo Joe, which can be found on the second floor foodcourt of Southmall.
So as always, I went out and tested their Katsudon. Katsusdon is always my benchmark for testing out a restaurant’s mettle. While it’s not a perfect benchmark, it does well enough for me to figure out just how good the food is at a restaurant in general.
Komoro’s katsudon costs 105 bucks, which is about the same price you would pay for Saibachi’s katsudon (110 bucks).
Sadly, this Katsudon is a mess. It’s served with some red iced tea, which is pretty standard as far as fastfood ice tea goes. You have to add 30 pesos for the tea, though. The real problem is the katsudon itself. It has multiple flaws.
First, the rice. It’s the typical poorly-cooked rice that was prepared in a kettle in the morning, then it wasn’t kept properly heated and just re-used throughout the day. Since there probably weren’t enough people eating, the rice wasn’t used up and got stale by the time I passed by in the afternoon. The rice would probably be decent if you got there first thing in the morning just as they were opening up, or if you got lucky and it was just newly cooked. But even then, I doubt. The rice is cheap quality local rice, nothing special, not even the fancy kind of local rice you can get. It’s not well-cooked, it was hard, did not cling to each other like nice Japanese rice, and was old by the time it got to me, so it didn’t even have that steamy goodness of freshly-cooked rice that you have at home. It was horrible.
Then, the katsu itself. The breading was absolutely horrid. It was thick, with too much flour and not enough bread crumbs, and felt like I was eating through moist, wet cardboard. It was not a pleasant experience.
The pork itself was not very good, there was lots of fat and cartilage and not enough lean pork meat, and it was still a little tough.
The egg was done okay, and the dashi was pretty flavorful, quite salty actually but not excessively so. But the taste of the dashi was wasted on the terrible rice, which really ruined the entire meal, because what is a donburi rice bowl if not the rice itself, the pure soul and essence of donburi?
Really, this Katsudon was a huge, huge failure. I have nothing good to say about it.
All in all, I was pretty disappointed with my meal. I doubt I will ever return to Komoro, but you never know. Maybe some of the other dishes on the menu are good, but the katsudon told me that the rice they use and the way they cook it is horrible, they use cheap breading, and even cheaper meat. At this price range, Saibachi is an infinitely better choice, and I don’t even like Saibachi all that much.