Whenever going to an uncharted territory, first thing I do is map out the place and scout for a good place to eat. That is what we all do for survival right? Not that the scenario was this drastic. But I love exploring new places because I am always in search for something new.
UP Town Center is the perfect place for what I had in mind. Majority of the place is a breather. An artisan's place. A place built or brought here as a fulfillment to its owners who has passion for great food. A place where the food and satisfying the customers are the top priority, not just the $$$$$$ (granted that it is a given). UP Town Center might be a little place for now, but already has lots to offer.
On a cold afternoon, almost night. The air around it was the perfect time to ask for a hug (especially if you are with someone you like, it is the perfect place to make "pa-simple moves"). Haha because the place was just freezing cold. A Tagaytay or Baguio kinda feel. A good ramen would be the perfect thing to eat, but there was not a lot to choose from only "RYU" and another Vietnamese place. There were a couple of pastries and coffee places and places I haven't seen before.
The closest thing to what I had in mind was GINZA BAIRIN. At first glance of the place, I immediately loved the plain and simple interior. Gives the place a "relaxing" vibe. I would have loved the place even more if it were a floor sit down kind of resto. There is not much of those places, and probably for a good reason too. Can you imagine a bad smell (you know what I am talking about) emanating through out the place? Turn off right?
The whole UP Town Center had just a few people lurking around since it was quite early for a Friday night thing. So you don't immediately get "the yummy place vibe" because there aren't much people eating yet.
So, if there isn't a good people indicator, the next best thing our instinct turns to is the interior. A good looking place might connotate that the food is great. But the thing that really got me to notice the place was the sadly "fake" but still beautiful cherry blossom tree they have sitting on the outside of the resto.
We got there a little early for my usual dinner time, which was definitely a good thing. Not so long after we sat down, people started flowing in from out of no where. In a matter of a few blinks, the whole place was jam packed!
I love the Zen vibe they got going.. I love the rattan chandelier that they have. But the music was just a little too "Spa-ish" for me.
There are times in your life when you are alone or times that you just want to eat alone (introvert much?) and you prefer the company of good food. Isn't it kind of awkward to occupy a whole table all by yourself and have an awkward staring contest with the people sitting across you. So I think their bar table is the perfect place to eat in peace. Minus the "moments" where you and the kitchen staff's eyes crosses.
Whenever at restaurants, I love looking at their condiment tray. From there I get an idea of what's to come. They have 6 condiments on their tray, which is no more than usual. The 2 immediately screamed cabbage salad to me! Between the two, I prefer the Roasted Sesame Dressing.
- Roasted Sesame Dressing
- Wasabi Shoyu Dressing
- Himalayan Salt
- Ginza Bairin Signature Tonkatsu Sauce
- S&B Chili Sauce
- S&B Chili Powder
I have seen salts, sea salts, rock salts,epsom salt, iodized salt, etc.. but I think it was the first time I noticed a "Pink Salt". It's Himalayan Salt, it is pinkish because of the iron oxides embedded in between. I thought it was just my eyes playing tricks on me. But it was really pink, I initially thought it was because of the lights. It wasn't.
I am not a bookish person. I only love books that have lots and lots of photos. Maybe I have the brain of a 5 year old. But I find menu's with loads of photos the best kind. I have no culinary background what so ever. No idea of what exotic foods are named. I know that when I see something I like, chances are it is good. I of course don't have a 100% streak, but it's high enough. I trust my instincts.
I loved that their menu is filled with photos. Makes the decision making easier. What looks good probably is good. Well, most of the time.
I saw their "Katsu Sando", I was drooling before I even knew what it is. I love sandwiches. I have a weakness for soft fluffy bread and their bread is like butter! It melts in your mouth and the meat is just amazingly juicy and flavorful! It has their special sauce and mustard in it. I am not a mustard person. There are just a couple of mustards I like and this one is particularly good.
That was the appetizer for me. Although it can be the main entree if you are not in the mood for rice.
I don't like eating cold food (I don't mean ice creams just so that we are clear) I mean hot food gone cold as the dead. I love eating food that is fresh from the stove. When I can see the smoke rising, that is hot food for me. I don't find cold food attractive, it kills the mood don't you think? The texture is all wrong and err.
When at a place like this, I am not a katsudon kind of person, but for some reason this time, I went for it. "THE PHOTO MADE ME DO IT". I was happy that I went with it. Best katsudon I've had. Normally I would go for Salmon Katsu, but I didn't (Shocker!). They have several great katsudon's to choose from.
Katsu in Japanese means "to win" and it truly is a winner for me!
- Special Katsudon Set which is their soft, lean pork tenderloin for P395 (it has 2 eggs, sunny side up and scrambled)
- Rosu Katsudon Set moist flavorful pork loin for P345 (only 1 egg, sunny side up)
- Chicken Katsudon Set succulent chicken thigh fillet P345.00
- Ebi Katsudon Set for P425.00
|Rosu Katsudon Set|
What I love about Katsudon's is the "Mirin" or sweet Japanese sake that just flows onto the rice. Making their amazing rice even better! Can't get enough of it. Although they could add more onions if you ask me.
|Hire Katsu Set|
(3 Fillets : P345.00)
(5 Fillets : P395.00)
Their Hire Katsu is also good. Although not as amazing as their Katsudon if you ask me. I am not a fan of lean meat. I am a pork belly person. No doubt about that. So the lean meat which has no fat at all is not my thing. Although a lot of people might.
Their "MISO" soup I forgot to say was amazing too! I don't like ordering soup whenever eating out. Although a lot of people like to because it "warms" or conditions their stomachs before heavy eating. For me it is the reason to eat less, which I don't like. I would often times be stuffed when I drink soup before meals. But for some reason, I can't say NO to a good miso soup.
I would definitely come back for more! If you like Yabu a lot and is tired of lining up. I think Ginza Bairin is a great competitor, might just take the lines and create a line of their own. THUMBS UP!
They currently have 2 branches :
- UP Town Center, ground floor
- Glorietta 2, ground floor
If you would like to know more, check out their Facebook page : Ginza Bairin PH
MISO, Me so happy!!
You should definitely try GINZA BAIRIN!