First, there was that delicious pasta dinner at Pizzeria Toscana in 2008 and then we went Filipino over at Bagoong Club last 2009. While in 2010, we satisfied our craving of ribs at Tony Roma's.
Despite how we would seem to just do the same thing every year, which is to dine out, I always look forward to this red-letter day as I know each Valentine's date is always special with Paul. All the more, I was really excited this year as it will be our first Valentine's Day as a married couple.
Before going to bed last Friday, Paul decided that we're having our Valentine's lunch date the next day at Umu in Dusit Thani Manila. Even how much I'd still like to sleep till noon, the thought of enjoying platters of sushi and teppanyaki dishes made me really excited. At 11PM last Friday, my tummy was growling loudly, perhaps it's its way of showing how excited it also is for lunch the next day.
The moment I woke up, I called to make reservations for lunch. The person whom I spoke too mistakenly told me that there will be a Teppanyaki Buffet for lunch that day and it's only worth P1,200 nett per person. Wowee! Imagine having a fill of all my teppanyaki favorites? I excitedly woke Paul up and told him about it. Only for us to find out the moment we arrived at Umu that the Teppanyaki Buffet happens only during weekdays. Darn! I guess the person whom I spoke to was still sleepy when he took the call.
Still, we didn't let this sad news dampen our spirits. We were led to our table for two overlooking the well-manicured garden of the hotel. Paul told me to take care of ordering of lunch. Everything in the menu sounded delicious and I really had a hard time choosing which ones to order.
Well, with our server's help, here's what we had for our Valentine's date:
Pumpkin Tofu (complimentary)
This is their appetizer and I love the unique blend of sweet pumpkin on silky Japanese tofu. I liked the small dot of wasabi on top which heightened the flavor even more.
I was really expecting a regular sized California Maki-like platter but I was surprised to see a HUGE roll of maki with sweet mangoes, cucumber and kani. Yes, it still resembles that of a California Maki but a bigger version. With 8 pieces, this is good for 2-3 pax. I love the drizzle of sweet Japanese mayonnaise and the generous serving of tobiko (orange caviar). My biggest frustrations when dining at any commercialized Japanese restaurants here is that I have to beg for more tobiko. At Umu, I was in tobiko heaven.
To be honest, I'm not a huge ebi tempura fan but this one I couldn't pass up as my mom would say the best way to check the authenticity of a Japanese restaurant is to see how they prepare two things: a tamago sushi and ebi tempura.
We chose the Philippine Maki over the Tamago Sushi but I made sure we had a plate of Ebi Tempura. We got 6 huge shrimps (or was it prawns) in one order. I love the light soy sauce that has a very distinct Japanese taste. The ebi tempura was well-coated and perfectly deep-fried giving it a light crunch on the outside and juicy, plump shrimp inside. I went home telling Mommy that Umu has passed the Ebi Tempura authenticity test.
I love seafood and Gindara is one of my favorite fish. I love how the meat melts in my mouth and the sweet teriyaki sauce lightly coats the entire fish. Paul, on the other hand, enjoyed munching on the skin as it has a crunchy texture minus the scaly feeling you'd get in other types of fish. The gindara just felt so clean and fresh that I'd love to have this every single day. Oishi-desu!
We wanted meat and that's the reason why we chose the Wafu Steak. When the server asked Paul how he wanted his beef done, Paul quickly answered "medium well". We were expecting a tender slice of Rib-eye steak but were both quite disappointed that each piece was tough and chewy. Too bad as we loved the sauce and the garnish but not the beef. It was a bit of a struggle to chew on each piece. This was the only dish that didn't made it to the cut. Wish we ordered something else.
To go with the dishes mentioned above, we ordered two types of Yakimeshi (fried rice). Paul had the Beef Yakimeshi which he said was very delicious and the rice was very soft and fluffy.
I, on the other hand, ordered the Seafood Yakimeshi which was exactly like Paul's fried rice only it's mixed with tiny bits of shrimp. As usual, Japanese rice is the best and this Yakimeshi is no exception. Despite the server telling us that one order is just good for one, if you have a lot of dishes to try and do not really have a huge appetite, it can actually be shared by two people. I went to Umu really hungry but after having the maki, tofu and seafood dishes, I could hardly finish off my bowl of Yakimeshi.
We had a lovely time at Umu. The service was wonderful and our server was very attentive. I appreciated the fact that we didn't have to lift a finger to have them refill our tea cups and water glasses. She was also game enough to recommend some dishes and shared with us more information about the restaurant's ongoing promotions.
I love the quiet and relaxed ambiance of the restaurant. There were only 5 tables filled that lunch time and having a lovely lunch with my sweet husband truly gives me so much reason why I love Valentine's Day.
Happy Hearts Day, dear readers! ♥
*photo credit: Paul Ang
Umu is at the ground level of the Dusit Thani Manila Hotel, Ayala Center corner EDSA in Makati City. Call 8673333 for reservations.