Mecha Uma | Omakase in Manila
It only took one text message to kill the romance — guys, no table available at Mecha Uma for now, dinner is rescheduled.
That message actually meant 2 things. First, it’s going to be 28 days more of waiting. Second, so many things can happen in between the 3-week gap like trying out other restaurants. And that only implies forking out an additional budget. Being with friends who were born with food DNA, everything happened as expected.
Mecha Uma is from the Japanese expressions—mechakucha & umai.
It means a “good mess”. This description seems bizarre for a restaurant that takes its inspirations from the time-honored qualities of Japanese cookery. But only when you go through this creative culinary journey you would understand why it’s a wonderful muddle.
Just like how it is in Japanese cuisine where the season plays a heavy influence on its food, Mecha Uma runs a seasonal tasting menu. They fly in from Japan most of its prime ingredients & blend it with local organic produce to create the chef’s omakase masterpiece.
Behind the craft is Chef Bruce Ricketts who is adored for his bold interpretations of high quality ingredients. Still in his mid-20s, he defies the myth that oldies do it best. He doesn’t only know his way around the kitchen but he is also a charming guy (although ladies find it a serious understatement).
If you like to see Chef Bruce in his full element, get a front row seat on the copper bar. But it only sits 10 & usually reserved for tasting menu diners. Designer Jorge Yulo made an excellent play on the small dining space & the ceiling piece to create a swish ambience. There was an effort in mood lighting but I would still prefer it to be a little brighter beyond the bar zone.
What really attracts the epicurious to Mecha Uma is its degustation menu. Every Fridays ‘til Mondays, it goes live on Chef Bruce’s open kitchen. If you want to catch this, make sure you get a table reserved way ahead because it’s unlikely to get a booking as you wish. For the rest of the week, its ala carte menu takes the stage. But whichever style you choose, you will still get the chef’s imaginative takes on each ingredient.
The tasting menu brought us to a journey of Chef Bruce’s kitchendom in a 10-course meal. It opened with light & quirky samplings like fugu shirako, a seasonal blowfish sperm & oysters in sake. But the star in the entree section was the platter of prime sashimi with beets in vinaigrette & fish liver sauce.
The next courses came in a delectable parade of rare fish & meat. There was saba, a Japanese mackerel served with mung bean puree & pickled apple. There were a slew of tender meats. And there was this French quail in lemon curd, the single dish that did not win us. We capped the degustation with a decadent pumpkin cake bursting in a happy mess of white chocolate, tofu & buttermilk chartreuse.
I have to admit that we were already full by the time the dessert was served. But we will never leave Mecha Uma without tasting its most raved about charcoal grilled Matsusaka wagyu & amadai fish in sea urchin sauce. And wagyu cheek. And black cod. And kurobota belly. And Japanese scallops. And what else were on the ala carte menu?
Apart from Matsusaka wagyu which was clearly everyone’s favorite, I need to make a special honorable mention of its tuna tartare with foie gras on coconut tuile. It was so good that we sat longer for a second helping.
Being Filipinos, we are used to finding that seemingly inexplicable savory taste in our food. It’s called umami, the 5th sense of taste. Surely, that special kick in the palate in Mecha Uma was an easy find. Although not everything that was dished in was a stellar—-overall, it was a delightful experience.
Expect to fork out at least P3,600 per person for the tasting menu. On the ala-carte side, entrees play around P260-P650 while main courses including wagyus & sashimis could scale up to P2,750. Gastrocrats may find it an easy feat, but for most others, it is something that you can only do once in a blue moon.
I am not someone who would easily take up on mindless splurging. But for the rarity of its off-year specials & ingenious creations, let alone the buzz epicureans create (read: hot food + hot chef), Mecha Uma was one worthy culinary journey.
It only took one text message to cap the evening — goodnight. And that certainly meant more than what it was plainly all about.
GF RCBC Tower, 25th corner 26th Streets
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig