It’s no secret our family loves Japanese food but Yaku Japanese Grill in Podium is one of those places I’ve neglected in the past. An entrance way is partially hidden by a pillar and sandwiched between Toy Kingdomand Ang Mo Kio probably did not help. They started as a yakitori stall somewhere in Ortigas before becoming a full blown Japanese restaurant. The name Yaku, actually means “to grill” in Japanese, has been around since the mall opened which is quite a feat considering the amount of turnover that has happened. I finally got a chance to try it our a couple of weeks ago together with some old and new friends.
Yaku is one of the handful of yakitori specialists that use charcoal in cooking them. If you don’t know what to choose, you can just get a Yaku Platter (P205). Each platter comes with a stick each of gindara, butabara (pork liempo), okura (okra), usura (quail eggs), negima (chicken with onion leeks) and asparamaki (asparagus).
The Aspara Bacon (P109/3 pcs.) is a always a hit, as most everything with bacon. This is something we regularly cook at home since its quite easy to do. We can’t replicate the smoky flavors of the charcoal since we just pop it into the oven.
The revelation for the night was a plate of Shisomaki (P129/3 pcs.), chicken wrapped in shiso leaf (perilla). Perilla is a fragrant lead from the mint family that is used in Japanese cooking as well as Korean barbecues. Each bite is a mix of sweet and succulent herb flavored chicken. This is one dish I’ll be back at Yaku for.
I’m still in my sushi craving phase so I got a plate of Nigiri Moriawase (P245). There’s 7 whole pieces of sushi and a small tuna maki roll. The quality is not as good but you can’t complain with the reasonable price and perfect for a quick sushi fix especially if I deign to drive over to Makati.
Looking at that nice Chirashi (P329) bowl has me thinking maybe I should pick that in the future.
While browsing the menu waiting for my order to arrive, I chanced upon Spicy Tuna Gunkan (P139). I loved the one from Terriyaki Boy back when they were still good. I was expecting canned tuna tossed with spicy mayo on top of sushi. The one that arrived actually uses fresh chopped tuna. It tasted pretty spicy and fresh so that assuaged my disappointment.
The last thing I tried was the curiously named Enoki Foilyaki (P175). Golden mushrooms with bonito flakes sealed inside foil with soy, butter and mirin and then baked. This one is perfect foil (no pun intended) to the smoky flavors of the yakitori sticks. It’s fragrant and tasty with a strong umami taste courtesy of the katsuboshi. I’ll try to ask Irene to recreate this at home.
I was not able to try the other dishes like the Tofu Steak (P159), Ebi tempura (P249), Sizzling Kaki/Oysters (P309) and Yakimeshi (P55) but my dining companions were all quite happy.
I’m so glad to have tried Yaku Japanese Grill, I’ve been looking for a yakitori restaurant that uses charcoal ever since Yakitori Kitchen got replaced by Wrong Ramen. I’m going back for more of those Shisomaki, too bad they phased out my favorite tsukune (chicken balls) from the menu or else it would have been a perfect 1-2 punch.
Yaku Japanese Grill3/F The Podium Mall 18 ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center Mandaluyong City, Philippines Telephone No.: 687-5368
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