During our recent staycation at Midas Hotel & Casino, we had the chance to have lunch at their multi-awarded signature Japanese restaurant, Yanagi. I have dined at Yanagi previously for their Misono Days weekend buffet but it has been a while since I came back and had their sizzling hot steaks and seafood off the teppanyaki grill. So it was a great time for me to revisit one of the most well-loved Japanese restaurants in the city.
Yanagi can be found on the Mezzanine floor of Midas Hotel & Casino along Roxas Boulevard. The restaurant has garnered several awards from Philippine Tatler and other dining institutions as one of the Best Restaurants in Manila and I totally agree with that distinction. The entrance alone gives diners that suspenseful anticipation of what can be touted as one of the finest dining experiences in the city.
The interiors of Yanagi are quite elegant and traditional, with a lot of wooden hues bringing that sophisticated but relaxed dining ambiance. Yanagi is said to be a reincarnation of the popular Tempura Misono which used to be housed inside the Hyatt Regency, the previous structure that once stood here before it was renovated into Midas Hotel.
Their Japanese buffet has always been one of the best quality buffets in the city, but for today’s lunch we were to be served some of the specialties that can be found on their a la carte menu. We were seated at their private VIP dining room and got ready for a kingly feast. Together with us was Cezca Estrada-Coligado, Marketing Communications Officer for Midas Hotel, and Treena Tecson, Media Relations Consultant for Midas Hotel.
While waiting for our courses to arrive, we had a chance to check out and try the Japanese buffet spread outside. I grabbed a few slices of fresh Salmon and Tuna Sashimi as well as some Tempura Sushi for appetizers.
They also had freshly-prepared Takoyaki Balls, a popular street food which originated from Osaka filled with diced octopus and topped with bonito flakes.
I ordered a Piña Colada from their cocktail menu as my afternoon beverage while happily munching on my starters.
Yanagi Executive Chef Chester Lucas then presented an impromptu creation to tickle our senses which was not even part of the menu selection that afternoon. This flowery dish blends so well with the background, but the best part is that it is all edible! I’m not sure if it had a name but the dish contained uni, mushrooms, carrots, and tempura breadsticks, a Japanese “amuse-bouche” of sorts.
The lineup then started with the Sake Nanban Zuke which had marinated deep fried salmon with leeks. The salmon is marinated in vinegar and this has a flavor that most Filipinos will actually appreciate.
Next comes one of their highlight dishes, the Kaki Papaya Yaki. This awesome papaya comes with grilled Japanese oyster in miso sauce. The creamy consistency is like eating melted cheese but with a lighter flavor. Of course, I love digging in and looking for the big Japanese oysters inside. This is one dish that I do not want to share at all.
We then had a healthy break with the Yanagi Salad. This assorted vegetable salad is topped with miso dressing and is one of the few salads that I actually enjoy eating.
I have always wanted to try their Aburi Sushi but I have not been able to because we usually go for the buffet. This set has assorted seafood sushi doused with aburi sauce and then slightly torched to give it this wonderful texture and aroma. One of the sushis come with unagi so that was the first one I immediately got.
Next is the Tempura Maki, another colorful creation from Yanagi. This thick prawn tempura roll is topped with salmon and crab roe and is just a delight to have.
Chef Chester then served us the Kaminabe. This soup dish comes with boiled assorted seafood and vegetables in a light sauce. But its biggest feature is in the way it is presented in a paper pan. The entire dish is held together by a piece of paper over a small boiler. We were all surprised that the paper did not burn up, but actually kept the soup warm throughout the entire meal. Now that’s an interesting way to serve vegetables.
Ebi Tempura can always be found in Japanese restaurants, but Yanagi gives its diners huge pieces of prawns. Chef Chester says that he only accepts certain sizes of prawns for his tempura so don’t expect to see tiny shrimps inside your orders.
But the most awaited dish for me that afternoon was the U.S. Angus Sirloin Steak. I could already smell the sirloin steak being cooked on the teppanyaki grill and was really eager to get my hands on it.
The steak is served fresh off the grill after being seasoned with butter and garlic. It is served with cabbage and an onion sauce which gives its a unique flavor. Another thing included in the dish is the fat from the beef which is cooked into loveable crunchy bits. This is one dish you should not miss at Yanagi.
For desserts, assorted fruits and mini cakes can also be found at the buffet spread, but their specialty item is the Wasabi Ice Cream (bottom left). This creation gives a slight wasabi kick inside your throat. Other flavors to try are the Red Bean, Black Sesame, and Green Tea ice cream.
It was a Japanese lunch fit for a queen as I merrily made my way back to my Executive Room after a fabulous time at Yanagi. This was just the start of my Midas Hotel staycation but the lunch alone at Yanagi already made my trip very memorable. I’ll be back here soon, probably for another run and their weekend buffet.
By:The Hungry Kat