Just so you guys know, I don't live in Greenbelt. I know I have a lot of posts from Greenbelt, but that's due to three reasons: The first being I lived two blocks away from it for two years, the second is because I've worked in that area for the past five years, and lastly, Greenbelt 3 Cinemas is our default movie theater of choice when Rina and I watch a movie, so it's more convenient to eat there before a movie (The fourth reason is I'm actually lazy to go looking for anywhere else). That being said, during a stroll along the area with some officemates, I noticed a new restaurant had opened up, named "Ma Maison".
From the name alone, I couldn't figure out what cuisine they were serving. I knew "Maison" was French (isn't it?) but the word "Ma" before it, threw in a for a loop. And there were some Asian characters that confused me even more. Further inquiries helped me discover that Ma Maison is actually a Japanese-Western Fusion restaurant.
One fine working day, when My Giant Joel and my friend, the lovely Donna got sick of the usual suspects for lunch, we decided to go to Greenbelt for something different for lunch. And it helped that we had just gotten our 13 month bonus (May it Rest In Peace.. Sniff).
Walking into Ma Maison feels like you're stepping into the set of a movie or a sitcom. And I'm not talking about "Palibhasa Lakake" or "Chicks to Chicks" (Is it obvious I haven't watched Filipino TV in ages?) either. It was like stepping into the bar of "Cheers" or How I Met Your Mother's "McLaren's". All of a sudden,you were in another world.
This didn't feel like a Japanese restaurant at all. None of those Japanese paper walls or bamboo whatevers that are a staple in Japanese restaurants. You walk in, and you feel like you're about to order Bangers and Mash instead of Tonkatsu.
You could tell that the people behind Ma Maison went through a painstaking task to make dress up the place, because it had antique looking kitchenware, even those old wall phones, and old West pictures.
With the way waiters and managers from Italianni's kept coming and going into the restaurant, I got the eerie feeling that this restaurant was brought in by my nemesis, The Bistro Group - the same people that brought us Italianni's, Flapjacks, Pig Out and Krazy Garlik. The group that offers a "membership card" that offers a discount for all their restaurants. The same Bistro Group that never sent me the actually card, leaving me to have to keep a piece of soggy cardboard in my wallet for a year. The VERY SAME BISTRO GROUP that never bothered to answer any of my emails when I asked for the card.
But I'm not bitter.
Don't get me wrong, I have no intention of going on a hate crusade against them, because I enjoy their restaurants. You'd just think that people in the service business would be a bit more attentive to their customers. Especially one that brings them business like I do (I used to eat at Fish & Co. A LOT).
Lo and behold, I was right, it's a member of the Bistro Group, so just like Pig Out and Krazy Garlik before, I ended up walking into another one of their restaurants, despite the fact I said I wouldn't eat in any of their establishments until I find out from them what happened to my card.
I put my animosity aside for a minute to give way to my growling stomach.
The lovely Donna ordered The "Green Tea Citrus" as her drink. Since I don't drink green tea that doesn't have the Letter "C" and the number "2" in it, I wasn't interested in trying it. Besides, it was citrus so it would've been hell on myu tummy. Donna seemed to like it though.
My Giant Joel ordered the Garlic Chicken Steak (P295). The chicken fillet itself was cooked very well, but the garlic sauce, which had a hint of sweetness to it, lacked a kick to it that I was looking for. For me, the flavors came off a bit bland. Thought it was by no means a terrible dish, it wasn't something that would stand out in my mind.
Donna ordered the Beef Stroganoff Butter Rice (P375).. Something that I had contemplated on ordering too. The buttered rice was wrapped up in a thin omelet, and was pretty much a meal in itself. The strips of beef was also cooked just right it remained tender to the bite. The brown sauce was drizzled with a little bit of sour cream, which helped temper the tangy flavor it had. Truth be told, even if the meal was just egg, sauce and rice, it might have worked. It was actually a very good dish, but I think it could have used a few more strips of beef OR a smaller plate (The big plate gave it the illusion of being empty).
I think I've mentioned before that I'm not really too big on Japanese food, and my default orders usual revolves around The Four T's of Japanese Cuisine: Teriyaki, Teppanyaki, Tempura, and Tonkatsu. Since the waitress highly recommended the Tonkatsu as their best seller, I thought I would give it a go.
You know a restaurant takes their Tonkatsu seriously when they have a three separate condiments specifically for it: Japanese Salt (A bit sweeter than your usual table salt), Some sort of wasabi dressing for the side salad, and a teapot full of Tonkatsu sauce.
At first glance, I immediately said that this was the nicest presented Tonkatsu that I had ever seen. It was placed on some sort of a screen, which I'm assuming was to let the oil drip(?). Unfortunately half the plate was occupied by the salad (which Donna and Joel, the two herbivores, feasted upon). After awhile though,the screen/grill thing that the pork was resting on, became rather cumbersome so I had to take it out.
The Tonkatsu was cooked to a beautiful golden brown, and had the right amount of meat to fat ratio to it. Meaning if you like fat, you'll feel you got just enough, and if you don't eat fat (weirdo), this won't gross you out. The Tonkatsu sauce had a strong flavor to it,that I only needed a light smear on top as to not lose the flavor of the pork. Easily among the best Pork Tonkatsu dishes in Manila. Oh, I ordered a side of Japanese Steamed rice, it was wonderfully soft and sticky.
Joel Ordered the Frozen Green Tea, which was actually a Frozen Brazo De Mercedes that uses Green Tea Ice Cream. The Meringue was nice and fluffy, but I wasn't too fond of the flavor Green Tea Ice Cream, but Joel loved it. He could not stop digging into it. Just when you thought he was going to put his fork down, he goes in for another scoop.
Being the health buff that I am, I decided to order the Wasabi Panacotta with Fruit Tempura (Fruits are healthy.. even when they're deep fried). The Wasabi Panacotta was a little strange at first, as the hint of the green mustard taking me by surprise, until it was overwhelmed by the creaminess of the panacotta. Though I'm not a fan of wasabi, I really enjoyed this. The fruits were cooked wonderfully and went perfectly with the chocolate sauce dip. The chocolate sauce dip had a nice balance of milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
It was cool too because the seat we got gave us a clear view of the kitchen, as in a big window in our booth that showed us practically everything, and the chicken wings we saw them making looked so good, I was starting to regret not ordering some.
Though It is a tad bit on the more expensive side, Ma Maison is a nice place to take a date to. The service, in true Bistro Group fashion, was excellent, with our server unafraid to exchange banter with us, giving her own opinions of the food and very attentive to our needs.
I would go here again.. but only when I hear from the Bistro Group about what happened to my Card. (I'll renew with them as soon as they promise me that I'll get an actual card this time)