There are good days. And there are bad days. There are some days that you just look for that particular something to relieve your tense mind and tired body… And this one day last week was just one of those not-so-good days for me.
Don’t you feel the same way sometimes? When all you want to do is stop the world from turning too fast, too soon? With the mad December rush already in our midst, don’t you feel that there are still a million and one things you have to do and accomplish in such a short span of time? What they say about December is in fact true after all : It is the most wonderful time of the year BUT it can also the busiest and most stressful time of the year!
Now moving on to something more positive…
I’ve been hearing a lot of good news about this new noodle place, MITSUYADO SEI-MEN, that just opened in Jupiter Street, Makati. Being a place that is near my home, I thought this might just be the perfect time to try them out. After all, what can be more comforting to a busy and tired person than a good, hot bowl of noodle soup?
The place looks like one of those typical, small eateries in Japan. They use nothing fancy here, just the basic black chairs and tables. The whole place is always busy, day in and day out. Even though they are packed to the brim most of the time, the restaurant is clean and orderly and exudes that authentic Japanese vibe.
I am one of those who appreciate restaurants who have a “show kitchen”, a kitchen that’s open for everyone to see. This alone tells me that what they will be serving here are clean and fresh, and not one of those surprise dishes that were made in the dark corners of an old restaurant (which owners or long time loyal customers will justify and say, they serve the best xxx dish anyway).
The menu is packed with a lot of things I want to try. But since this is our first time here, we just went with the popular recommendations.
First order was the Cheese Sauce Tsukemen. I got intrigued by the name and since some of my friends who have tried this gave it a thumbs up, I decided to try it myself. And it arrived as a set, on a tray looking like this.
This came as a surprise to me! I couldn’t imagine myself eating a bowl of noodle soup with cheese…but you know what they say, there’s always a first time for everything! 🙂
So first step is you pour the cheese sauce on your noodles….
And then mix, mix and mix…
Then, dip your noodles in that steaming pork broth that came with it!
Yes, this is a totally different concept from your usual bowl of Japanese noodle soup. Instead of the noodles already submerged in the soup — with this one, you actually have to dip the noodles in the soup!
The uniqueness of the cheese sauce coupled with the very tasty flavor of the pork broth (or pork dipping sauce) that had chunks of pork, leeks, spring onions and that citrus-y yuzu flavoring (which I love), surprisingly worked well together! Definitely, all cheese lovers out there will rejoice with this unique dish 🙂
Second order was the Marutoko Tsukemen. This one is one of their basic and popular dishes in the menu. And just like the first order, this came in a set neatly laid out on a tray.
This is the bowl that contains the meat of your Marutoko Tsukemen. It contains two pieces of thinly sliced pork, some veggies, soft-boiled egg and nori (seaweed). And just like with the first dish, you are supposed to dip this combination in the pork broth (dipping sauce) that came with it.
(My only wish is that they add more sliced pork next time, because two thin slices of meat is definitely not enough for one hungry person!)
Well, did I tell you that I was stressed and tired that day? So with this second bowl of noodle soup, I had no more patience left in me to twirl the noodles first and then dip in the sauce… only to twirl and dip, twirl and dip and then twirl and dip again. So I simply dunked a portion or two (or three!) of my noodles into my warm bowl of dipping sauce, and just let it submerge there, turning it into my usual, normal kind of noodle soup.
I figured that when you’re hungry and tired, it doesn’t matter anymore if you dip your noodles or if you eat it straight from the bowl! What matters most is that you feed your hungry and tired self, pronto — before you end up in an even worse mood than you were before!
The waitress asked us how we want our Udon noodles done – al dente or soft… Of course we chose al dente, which is the best way to eat any kind of noodle for that matter!
And because we were two hungry people (yes, we were just two!), we had to order more. We wanted to try their rice and meat dishes as well, so we ordered the Beef Gyudon. This dish was good… but I must say, the beef was lacking in quantity (It is already thinly sliced as it is, so why not add more?)
Or was it really just because I was that hungry?!
Because the Gyudon wasn’t filling enough for two hungry people (and yes, we still had those two kinds of noodle soup — which we both split equally anyway), we couldn’t stop at having just one meat dish. So we ordered another one, their Chicken Karaage or Japanese-style Fried Chicken.
I don’t really know what makes this dish exactly Japanese, because it tastes just like any other Fried Chicken I’ve had before. It was good but nothing really spectacular. This is one of those dishes that for sure, my kids will enjoy. What I think is that this dish could still be made better, if they just add a little bit more salt and pepper or dry herbs and seasoning or change their breadcrumbs completely — so it becomes crispier and a whole lot tastier.
But then again, that’s just me… 🙂
Now on to their ultimate! More than the noodles, what I have also been hearing much about is their fantastic Gyoza. And let me tell you… with just one bite, I was floored!!! This was probably one of the BEST Gyozas I’ve ever had in my life – and I mean ever in my life! 🙂
It was perfectly seared (not fried!) on the outside and yet still soft and tasty on the inside. It had that particular bite to it, that even though it was covered with soft dumpling wrapper, it wasn’t soggy at all. The meat inside was packed with flavor. Yes, it was sooo good, that one order wasn’t enough and we just had to order another round! 🙂
I say that this is the Gyoza to beat any other Gyozas in the Metro!
One cannot go to MITSUYDAO SEI-MEN and not order this. This perfectly complements all their other great noodle dishes. Upon the waitress’ recommendation, we concocted its dipping sauce : We mixed some soya sauce with a little bit of vinegar and then for that extra kick, added a whole lot of chili oil to it… Now, that really made the Gyoza explode in our mouths! 🙂
Right beside the restaurant is Yamato, their Japanese bakery cafe owned by the same group who put up the restaurant.
It has the same concept as what we’ve seen in Bread Talk : clean, open and spartan kitchen, bakers dressed in all white and the place filled with the aroma of breads baking in the oven.
On one corner of the bakery, they have a beautiful display of Japanese breads and pastries that are made fresh daily.
They all looked promising to me but since The Spoiled Mummy was just too full and loaded with a lot of carbs from that big lunch of noodles and fantastic Gyoza, I decided to skip dessert for now, just this one time — which truthfully I will tell you, never ever happened before. So yes, this was a rare moment. 🙂
But because I could smell their coffee freshly brewing on one side of the bakery, I decided to get one cup to take home with me.
And then I got home and realized I still have some sweet things waiting for me in the fridge… Junior’s Cheesecake which the Hubby hand-carried for me from his last trip to New York and Truffle Chocolate Chip Cookies, a gift from one of my favorite chefs, Miko Aspiras.
Admittedly, the temptation to indulge was too strong, even more so now because there was a good cup of coffee to go with it. I rationalized that I’ve been good enough by not getting any breads and pastries from that Japanese bakery thirty minutes ago, so it’s now time to stop lying to myself (that I don’t eat desserts) and start living again! 🙂
With that said, I happily devoured my wonderful New York Cheesecake and gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies while sipping my hot cup of Japanese black coffee.
Frankly speaking, it was the combination of everything : the hot bowl of noodle soup, my equally hungry lunch partner (aka the Hubby) who made time for me on that busy weekday and my sweet fix, that chased my blues away. And because of that, The Spoiled Mummy’s back — bigger (!) and better than ever, but more importantly, comforted and more positive than I have ever been!