The intriguing modern interiors of Yumi. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA -- The owners of the new Japanese restaurant Yumi couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate name. In Japanese, “yumi” suggests “beauty,” although the word’s urban meaning hits the nail on the head – “yumi” is slang for “an amazingly cool Asian girl.”
This restaurant, located at the mezzanine of the New Promenade in Greenhills, is a head-turner indeed, its sexy, modern interiors highlighted by blown-up, extreme close-up images of mysterious Japanese women. And the allure doesn’t stop there -- from the dark earthenware to the pretty plating, Yumi offers plenty to feast your eyes on.
Take the Yumi Symphony appetizer, for instance. This is a bright red ball of spicy tuna sashimi, shredded kani, fish roe and fried sushi rice served on a large black patterned plate. But the dish isn’t just tantalizing to look at as it certainly prepares the palate for what’s to come.
Yumi Symphony. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com.
And if you find this too large for a starter (the Yumi Symphony is definitely for sharing), there’s the less elaborate spicy tuna sashimi (although I found the spicy salmon version more to my liking).
While most of the new Japanese restaurants in town specialize in a certain dish – usually ramen or katsu – Yumi has a more varied menu, although one can notice a strong focus on sushi and sashimi as the chefs certainly showed their creative side to prep up these raw delicacies.
The chefs’ eye for presentation was again showcased in the Yumi Sake Sushi Balls, a tweak on the usual salmon sushi and shaped like lollipops,while the platters – the Club Sashimi seafood set and the Seven Sea Moriwase sushi set -- were artfully arranged, bursting with various shapes and colors.
Yumi Sake Sushi Balls. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Apart from toying around with the plating, the chefs also experimented with mixing ingredients not traditionally found in Japanese cuisine. For instance, they paired the unagi (eel) with foie gras as a premium sushi topping. But while that combination was just sublime, the pairing of fresh oysters with smoked salmon sushi was utterly sensuous.
Smoked Salmon and Oysters. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
But it’s not just about gimmicks: One of the best dishes served during a recent dinner for food bloggers was the very simple hamachi carpaccio, which are thinly sliced high-grade yellowtail tuna doused with olive oil and lemon zest. When you have ingredients that are that good, it is best to just highlight that – which is what the chefs accomplished with this dish.
Apart from these raw treats, Yumi also makes special mention of teppanyaki in its tagline – and with good reason. I too will boast of a dish such as the teppan-grilled US tenderloin with foie gras.
US Tenderloin with Foie Gras. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
The beef chunks were flavorful on their own even without the added foie gras. Pair this with Yumi’s Japanese fried rice – order the Angus Prime chahan for even more beef goodness – and you’ve got an extraordinary meal.
The third part of Yumi’s tagline is, not surprisingly, ramen. Although Yumi serves a fairly decent bowl of ramen, just enough to quell strong cravings for this popular dish, a better noodle alternative, at least for me, would be the Hiyashi Chuka Salad, a refreshing cold dish with kani, cucumber and sesame dressing.
Hiyashi Chuka Salad. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Yumi, it seems, is intent on pleasing guests such that practically all the traditional Japanese favorites are on the menu while maintaining a fairly high and consistent quality.
The shrimp tempura, for instance, used large prawns with just the right amount of batter (there’s also soft-shell crab tempura, if you want a change from the usual), while the chicken teriyaki was juicy.
Ebi Tempura. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
Donny Elvina, who is one of the owners of Yumi, is proud of the fact that the restaurant can offer food of this quality at such an affordable price. One can enjoy sushi for as low as P125 (for the yellow fin tuna), while the order of smoked salmon and oysters was priced at just P265. The Yumi moriawase set goes for P275, while chicken teriyaki is priced at P235.
Green Tea Tempura Ice Cream. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan for ABS-CBNnews.com
The dessert, for only P165, is the green tea tempura ice cream, a creative way of presenting this traditional Japanese treat.
Yumi also carries a wide array of alcoholic beverages from beer to sake, as well as wines and specialty cocktails, which actually fits the restaurant’s sexy ambience.
This restaurant certainly provides a strong argument to visit the usually crowded Greenhills shopping center.