Wednesday, December 14, 2016

First Bite: Nikuya by Buta+Wagyu

I have been excited for Nikuya’s opening ever since I found out that it is the baby sister of Buta+Wagyu, one of our favorite restaurants to date. Marketed as the more affordable version of the upscale wagyu place, this Japanese Korean restaurant focuses more on yakitori, shabu-shabu and a handful of rice dishes. I was invited to its media event but couldn’t make it given the Christmas rush. But thanks to a work holiday, I finally got to visit this place with R. 

Hello, Nikuya!
We were warmly greeted by its hostess Erica and were quickly ushered us to our table. 
While appreciating the restaurant’s interiors, I realized that Nikuya has very limited seating capacity. Given that each table is equipped with smokeless grill and induction cooker, even solo diners will end up occupying a table good for four or six, especially if they would like to order grilled and/or shabu-shabu dishes. I also noticed that there are no tables  available without griller or induction cooker for those who would just like to order ready to eat dishes like bibimbap or rolls. In short, it is best to book a table before paying this place a visit. 
Aside from the usual kimchi and dilis, Nikuya also serves pickled radish as part of its wait snack. 
While munching on it, the staff was busy preparing our Shabu-Shabu (PHP598) with Sukiyaki and Pork & Chicken broth. 
Each shabu-shabu comes with assorted vegetables, fish balls, squid balls, O-deng (fish) sticks, and a choice of two broths. You may also opt to just go for one broth if desired but I was told that the Pork & Chicken and Dashi Kombu (seaweed) are the bestsellers. 
While our pot of broth was being heated up, a plate of Pork Belly (PHP188) and Chuck Roll (PHP438) were served as add ons to the shabu-shabu.
I first sampled the Pork and Chicken broth and I was surprised that it was flavorful. I had an impression that it would be on the bland side given its color. But it was quite salty and reminded me of the usual chicken broth of Chinese restaurants only this one is packed with ingredients. I really enjoyed munching on the squid balls and veggies.  
The Sukiyaki broth had a lighter flavor but it becomes sweeter after some time. I prefer this broth over the Pork and Chicken as I like my shabu-shabu broth to have a sweeter taste.  
For the meats, I prefer Chuck Roll over Pork Belly as it was more flavorful. But if you have a limited budget for lunch or dinner, pork belly is already a great add on. Just make sure to dip it in the shabu-shabu sauce for that extra oomph. 

While waiting for the grilled meats, I munched on the Bonito Mozza Onigiri (PHP188) to serve as a break from the savory broths.
Though I’ve had my fair share of onigiri, it was my first time to eat grilled version of it. Miso-flavored and stuffed with mozzarella, this ball, rather, triangle, of rice serves as a nice complement to grilled meats. 
And speaking of grilled meats, plates of Karubi (PHP258) and Spicy Ox Tripe (PHP198) were served right after and the staff also cooked it for us. 
The Karubi or Marinated Boneless Short Rib had a nice sweet taste and went well with ssamjang, fresh garlic and crisp lettuce. 
However, I prefer to stuff my lettuce with rice as well to make it extra filling. 
The Spicy Ox Tripe on the other hand was a bit too spicy for my liking. Also, since I’m used to eating tripe with kare-kare sauce, it made me crave for bagoong. This is a bestseller though to the restaurant’s Korean patrons.
To quench our thirst, we were given Raspberry Iced Tea and Green Tea Lychee Iced Tea and we liked it!  

Overall, it was a nice dinner. The whole meal totalled to around PHP2,000 and it wasn’t bad at all as we left with happy tummies. 
I’ll definitely swing by again and buy some A5 Wagyu.

Nikuya is located at Ground Floor, Estancia Mall, Capitol Commons, Oranbo, Pasig City.

Nikuya Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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