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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

WHERE IS UMAMI HAMBAAGU HOUSE?


            For the past couple of weeks, food lovers around the web has on the lookout for the mythical Umami Hambaagu House.. A restaurant that specializes in Japanese Burger Steaks, but takes it to the next level, and then you multiply that next level to infinity. Something that added to the mystique of the restaurant, is that the location of Umami Hambaagu House has been kept from the public. 

        In a world where restaurant owners are screaming at the top of their lungs "VISIT US AT OUR LOCATION, LOCATED AT BLAH BLAH BLAH STREET, ETC", Umami decided to play it a different way. They said to hell with tradition and issued a challenge to its customers. They basically said, "We are awesome. If you want some kick ass burger steaks, come and find us."

     The result? A whole bunch of food lovers typing into Google..

                       "Where is Umami Hambaagu House?"


            I was actually fortunate enough to see the sign of the restaurant quite a while back, so I had a basic idea of where it was. I hadn't actually been to the exact location, but I passed by it a few times. As a guy always on the look out for a place to eat, the name "Umami Burger" caught my attention because I remember seeing Giada De Laurentiis raving about a dish with the same name on The Food Network, and thought it could be affiliated in some way (It's not). 


              Even before setting a single toe into the restaurant, one thing is for sure.. You're going to be in for a fun time. Even the sign on the door says "Boring People Not Allowed", effectively banning my Statistics teacher in college from ever setting foot inside the restaurant (Sorry Mr. Rodriguez). 


         Avid Japanese Anime collectors would go nuts at Umami Hambaagu House. Though the interiors are very modern in designs and cuts, the elements around it help enhance all the fun elements of the country of Japan. Hell, even the dish names pay homage to Japanese Animation! Around the restaurant area one screen plays Anime movies, while the other plays those hilarious Japanese Prank shows that I love watching on YouTube. 


         The environment was extremely relaxed. I felt like I was more in the den of my house rather than at a restaurant. It's a great place to lounge around and have a nice meal. 

         A special mention goes to the cushioned chairs, that were unbelievably comfortable. I was a little bit alarmed that I wouldn't be able to get up from my new found cottony throne. 

THE DRINKS

          Umami Hambaagu house has a large selection of drinks to choose from. While we were on our way to the place, Rina said that she was going to pass by the Starbucks just a few steps away (that's a hint for ya'll). But when she says the "Drinks" menu, she knew that wasn't going to happen. The menu includes wide range of hot and cold coffees, teas and chocolates. 


      The very instant I saw the "Almond Roca Chocolate" on the menu, It took all of my strength to not do a double back flip in my chair. The ice cold chocolate went smoothly down my throat, and offered the sweet taste of almond in the back end. The drink was topped off with whipped cream, and bits of crushed toffee sprinkled on top. Delicious!!
         

           Still relishing her AmbassadOREO role, Rina ordered the Chocolate and Oreos. How did it taste? It was a creamy chocolate drink, that had bits of Oreos blended in.. How do you THINK it tasted? Yes it was pretty awesome, with the whipped cream drizzled with a dark chocolate syrup, helping to balance out the sweetness. 

THE FOOD

STARTERS


          I hate to give a spoiler, but as you read along, you'll see that I actually enjoyed everything I ordered in Umami Hambaagu House.. All except one: The Sweet Potato Fries (P95). First off, they were a bit too thick for my liking. Second of all, I don't think it was cooked through and through because it was still a bit hard. And after that, It don't think it was seasoned enough.. whether with salt or sugar. This was worlds apart from Cue's and Village Tavern's. There's lots of room for improvement here. 


            Thankfully, Umami more than redeem itself with their Cream of Corn Soup (P120 ala carte, + P60 if ordered with the Hambaagu Set). It was thick, and chunky, with a generous heaping of corn bits mixed inside. It had a distinct creaminess that really hit the spot with me. 


              The Karaage were tender strips of chicken, dipped in a light batter and deep fried. The crust maintain its crispiness, yet the chicken meat was extremely juicy. When Rina pierced through it with her fork, the natural juices of the chicken actually squirted out! I thought this was rather good, but could have used a pinch less salt (I ate it anyway hehe). 

      Rina, who has a high tolerance for salt, didn't mind it so much, but when we ate the leftovers at home, she had a stroke of genius. She whipped out one of my McDonald's BBQ Sauce from the ref (Yes, I have a stash of Mcdonald's BBQ Sauce in my ref), and turned the "Karaage" into "Chicken Nuggets". 

      It made me realize that as delicious as the Karaage was, perhaps it would be even better with some sort of dipping sauce, such as "Teriyaki" or "Honey Japanese Mayo". 

HAMBAAGU 

       I've always wondered what the connection was between Japanese and Burger Steaks. Truthfully, I honestly thought it was a Pinoy thing. You know, how McDonald's had to make Rice meals to cater to the Filipinos taste? Apparently, it's a legitimate Japanese dish. My father in law told me that he had gone to Japan back in the day, and had some of the best Burger Steaks ever there. 

     And as you can imagine, I'll be taking him here soon. 


          Your Hambaagu set comes with Steamed Japanese White Rice, Sesame Mayo Salad, Salted Edamame, and French Fries. First off, I'm gonna have to let you know that I didn't touch the Edamame or the Salad (Which is refillable by the way), but Rina said both were rather enjoyable. 

      Though the fries were a bit thicker than what I would have liked it to be, I was quite impressed in the art direction put into the plating of it. It was almost as if the cooks decided to play Jenga with my French Fries. Nonetheless it was cooked nicely, and It went very well with my order. 

      As mentioned earlier, you can add the Cream of Corn Soup to your meal (And I strongly advise that you do), or Change your patty (I'll get to that in a minute) to a pure chicken one for an additional P20.  
 

           I ordered the Roppongi Hills (P420), which was named after a new Urban Center in Japan (Sorta like a Japanese version of Eastwood City, only theirs is on steriods). The beef patty was blanketed in a thick Truffle Cream sauce, speckled with tiny bits of mushrooms and herbs in it. 



         I've had some very good burger steaks before.. but nothing quite at this level of excellence. First of all, (As a proud carnivore) I was happy to find out that Umami's burger patties are made with a mix of choice beef and pork, which was responsible for its incredibly meaty flavor. Second, the meat was amazingly juicy. It didn't seem like the meat was grilled, because it wasn't stiff at all.

     Apparently, cooking burger steaks in Umami is a two step process. The Burger is first pan fried, and then finished in the oven, where the juiciness is locked in. 

    The color of the patty was to an appetizing light brown color, and the cohesion of the truffle cream and the burger itself was absolutely phenomenal. 


           A few nights before we went to Umami Hambaagu House, I showed Rina a picture of the "Maison Du Japon". She would get annoyed with me because I would show her the picture while we were in bed at night, just before we'd go to sleep.. and Umm.. right after she'd mention that she's hungry (She would always say "Nananadya ka na!" or "You're doing it on purpose!). 

      So you can imagine how much it broke her heart, when we finally visited Umami Hambaagu House and we were told that the dish that she had been dreaming of for the past few nights, was out of stock. 

    Though I have nothing to do with the inventory and purchasing of Umami, she blames me for her disappointment.  

    Instead she had to settle for the "Hole In One" (P320), which was actually not a bad second choice. 


      
    The Burger patty was doused in Umami's very own homemade ketchup, and topped off with a Sunny Side Up Egg. Again, the savoriness of the patty played with the sweet tanginess of the ketchup, whilst the egg, which Rina asked to make sure that the yolk was still runny, provided a subtle creaminess to the dish.

      Again, this was another winner in my book.  

DESSERTS


          My heart was broken once again, upon being informed by Joy, Restaurant Supervisor of Umami, that the dessert that I had had my eyes on, The "Deconstructed Tiramisu", was also unavailable. So instead, I ordered the Vanilla Rice Pudding (P250). 

      The first time I had some rice pudding was in New York (I haven't posted about it yet though), and I loved it. I was a little sad because I didn't know of any place in Manila that sold it, so I was elated to find out that Umami has it in their menu. 

      And it's nothing short of amazing.

     I don't always look for bursting flavors that explode into your mouth. In fact, I'm more particular to dishes with subtle & delicate flavors.. which is how I describe The Vanilla Rice Pudding. It will not overwhelm your senses in your first bite. I'll admit, when I was chewing, it took me a couple of seconds to make out what the taste exactly was.

     As soon as I swallowed it though, that's when it hit me.. And I was a goner. The creaminess was just right, and the bits of caramel on top was the perfect accentuation of the flavor, giving it a nice kick of sweetness. I found myself scooping and scooping into my mouth without a care in the world. It took a few *Ahems* from Rina for me to realize that I had been refusing to hand over the spoon to her so she could get a try. 

    Oh and did I mention that the portion was quite huge!


           Since the Tiramisu wasn't available, Joy was adamant that we try the Nutella Crepe Cake. Once Rina heard the word Nutella, she said YES! Seriously, my wife loves Nutella so much, Joy could have said "Nutella Crap Cake" and Rina would still have said "YES!!". 

      I'm no expert, but the patience in making this tedious dish was quite impressive. The layers of Crepe was so thin, and each layer was smeared with a rich, deliciously creamy hazelnut spread. I didn't exactly count, but that had to be around 20 layers or so!

     And when mixed with the whipped cream??? Fuggedaboutit!! 

     Both desserts made me think to myself, "What Tiramisu?".


          Baby Rain, Rina and I had an absolutely wonderful time at Umami Hambaagu House! We're planning on going back soon to finally try the Maison Du Japon, and the Tiramisu! Thank you Kat and Joy!

           So the question in your mind.. Where is Umami Hambaagu House? Good Question. And that Question, obviously deserves an answer.. Knowledge is actually a very tricky thing though.. When you say "Where".. what exactly does that mean? Are we talking about time & space? What if Time and Space are relative? Sir Isaac Newton once said.. err... Wait.. I'm getting carried away now, aren't I? 

         What was the question again? :) 


PIX


Kinda big, don't ya think?



From Right To Left: Ketchup, Mayonaise, and... umm.. Lard?


Don't make me hungry. You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry.


UMAMI HAMBAAGU HOUSE MENU

17 comments:

  1. If this is the old Umami from before, I think I know where it is :D

    And wow. It sure has changed a LOT since then!

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    1. I knew you'd recognize it.. cuz I saw pix of you chomping on some chicken wings right beside it!

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    2. My face is on the store beside it? Nooooooo!!!!!!!

      Hehe :P

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  2. I know where it's located! :) I think I'm calling friends to join my visit this place! :)


    http://www.dekaphobe.com

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    1. Haha its near your ofc, right?

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    2. Yeah. I pass by this place on my way home. :P

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  3. Just had lunch here with a friend. The Roponggi Hills burger was good, but my friend and I both loved the Takeshi's Castle! No wonder it's their best seller. But what really blew me away was the NUTELLA CREPE CAKE!!! I agree with you... the cake on its own is already very good - delicate yet substantial and with the flavors just right - BUT when you mix it with the whipped cream??? OMG!!! TEH BAM!!!

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    1. Aww I didn't get the Takeshi's castle! I'm not too fond of seaweed.. but maybe I convince the person I go with next time to order it so I can give it a try hehe..

      *High Five!!* Isn't the Nutella Crepe Cake amazing!?!?

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  4. I'd love to visit this place but its location still eludes me, I kinda get the vibe its in Pasig or C-5 area, not sure though. Gotta dig deeper :) The Roppongi Hills and Maison Du Japon looks really appetizing!

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    1. I'm gonna go back for the Maison Du Japon!

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  5. I had Takeshi's castle, really good!

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    1. Looks like that's a popular one.. I'm gonna have to try that next!

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  6. I totally agree with your review, dude! This place is the bee's knees yo! I actually didn't like the Tiramisu all that much but damn, everything else was SO GOOD.

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    1. You shoulda tried the rice pudding and crepe cake bro!

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  7. LOL at the "Nutella Crap Cake"! Richie, I love the photos. You and Rina are very creative with your "poses". I find it really disappointng when the items you wanna order are "not available". That happens a lot to my hubby and we joke about it being his curse, haha! Since his family owns a fastfood chain in the US, he always tells me that a good restaurant manager should see to it that they neverrun out of stock of anything, least of all the most popular items. At hindi talaga ni-reveal ang location! Hahaha! Great post, Richie. Thanks. :)

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    1. Your hubby and I would get along, because I say that it's my curse too!! haha! Happens to me a lot!

      Thanks Myla :)

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