I just dropped by the spanking new Madison Galeries mall in Alabang. It’s a tiny structure but despite having such a small footprint, there’s a lot of space and shops inside. One of the first restaurants to have opened is Aburi, a Japanese restaurant which specializes in sushi like its namesake.
I came over to try some of my favorite dishes. It was 9pm and we made it just before the kitchen closed. One thing about Aburi is that the interior is dark dark. Like, the mall was dark enough with no outdoor light coming in, it was night time, and the interiors were dimly lit to boot. Taking good food shots was a nightmare.
Still, the dimly interiors had a cozy feel to them with the parasols plastered on the walls. It was even dimmer than John and Yoko’s at the Alabang Town Center.
So anyway, I went ahead and ordered my traditional testing dish at any new Japanese restaurant. The venerable katsudon!
At 295, it’s a bit pricey, though still not breaching the 400-500 range that Yabu’s katsudon sits at. In perspective, it’s about the same price range as Teriyaki Boy’s new menu, but this katsudon is vastly superior to Teriyaki Boy’s.
First off, it come with Miso soup. That’s a big bonus in itself. The miso was suitable savory, but strictly speaking I didn’t need any additional appetizers as Aburi, like any good Japanese restaurant, serves some sugared dilis as an appetizer. Big fan of those! I didn’t finish my miso because I already had my fill with the fishy appetizer.
The katsudon is also a huge serving. It’s very filling, with the dilis, the miso and the donburi itself. There’s a lot of rice, it’s a big, wide bowl and the katsu is also generous.
But what I love about it is the flavor. Unlike all the pretender katsudons out there, Aburi’s katsu is very tasty. The flavor of the dashi is just right, and it’s enhanced by a secret ingredient: shiitake! The mushrooms add a welcome pungent taste to the dish that you don’t usually encounter in other recipes. It goes great with the dashi stock and really enhances the taste of the dish.
The negi used for garnishing is also great, giving a fresh feel, but there’s also some flavorful white onions mixed in with the negi, and the onion flavor is very strong in this katsudon. I love it. I love onions!
The breading is very nicely done. It’s not as crisp as Yabu’s but it’s very respectable and gives a great texture to the dish. However, where this dish is lacking is in the quality of the pork. The pork is a little tough. It’s not hard to rubbery or difficult to chew by any means, but it’s not the melt in your mouth tenderness I associate with the best katsudon. This is the only bad thing I have to say about this dish, and it’s not a terrible pork, just not super tender.
The rice is also good. Not great koshihikari rice, but it’s soft, bunches easily, and isn’t undercooked or overcooked like some cheap restaurants are.
Great dish. I recommend it.
We also had the Spicy Salmon Maki.
This was wonderful! We didn’t order the Aburi version of the sushi, but this is my favorite kind of maki so that’s all good. I’ll try their specialty next time. Spicy salmon maki is my favorite maki of all makis, and this one is the crunchy kind with crispy tempura batter embedded around the rice. I love it, they know exactly what I like in my salmon maki!
It’s not very spicy though, to be honest. Kenji Tei for instance has a spicier version of the salmon, and they only provide a tiny swab of wasabi as you can see in the picture. The wasabi wasn’t very spicy either.
However the salmon was rich and plump, and very satisfying. The samon in the center of maki also hit the spot, giving that chewy soft aftertaste once you get through the rice. The combination of the crunchy batter, the gooey rice and the soft salmon on top and underneath it coalesce into a symphony of sensations as you savor the rich flavor of the salmon, the tickling saltiness of the soy sauce and mild freshness of the wasabi.
An amazing dish. I love it.
And last, we also got to try their Wagyu Beef Cubes.
This is actually my first time eating Wagyu Beef. I’m not a big fan of steak or pure beef, but I figure it would be worth trying out. I didn’t know what to expect, so I just dug in.
I have to say: Wagyu beef is amazing! The beef is so soft and tender. It feels like you’re eating pork barbecue, but the entire thing feels like you’re eating the fat at the end of the barbecue stick and not the lean meat. The beef is that soft and squishy, it feels like you’re eating fat, but you’re actually eating a meaty beef cut.
The flavor itself is very meaty in flavor, it doesn’t just taste like you’re eating fat, it feels like you’re eating fat! Heheh! Wagyu beef is prized for its high marbled-fat content, but it’s still a meat cube, albeit one bursting with the flavor of fat! It’s really hard to put it to words, so you should just try it out instead. You really won’t regret it.
Still pretty expensive, it’s basically 50 bucks for one little cube. But any foodie should try this at least once in their life!
Overall, the experience here was great! And they serve a huge pitcher of water without me even asking, which is always a plus for me. I will for sure be back here to try more of their dishes in the future.