Umami Hambaagu House Manila

I can't remember the last time a restaurant was ever kept on the DL in this part of the world before Umami Hambaagu House opened. The whole "mysterious" strategy works pretty well. People are abuzz with questions regarding where the Japanese restaurant is located. 

Umami Hambaagu House The Grove Manila signage

One of the servers told us that the restaurant opened in May of last year. After a month or so in operation, the owners closed it down for some renovation. Umami Hambaagu House officially opened {again} in November of 2012.

According to {part of the brains behind the restaurant}, the owners want to keep the restaurant's location hush-hush to make it more "personal". In a sea of shove-it-in-their-face type of marketing strategies, it's a breather to see an establishment that prefers to fly under the radar. It's sort of like an inbound marketing technique where the people seek the product due to its good reputation, rather than being enticed to buy it. Pretty cool.

Umami Hambaagu House The Grove Manila Menu

We found out about the restaurant one Saturday afternoon right after we visited the grocery store right across Umami Hambaagu House. "Oh, so that's where it's located!", our eldest son excitedly exclaimed. The following night, we went to the said restaurant, with our bellies aching to be filled with some umami goodness!

Upon entering, we got a whiff of a pleasant aroma that's not food related.  If you're a little bit squeamish about smelling like fried flesh after a meal, you won't have it here. Oi! It rhymes!

We like and appreciate the playful interiors that screams "We are family-friendly". You and your kids won't be bored while waiting for your food to arrive because interesting and funny knick-knacks abound. 

What we like best were the hilarious Japanese game shows that they play in one of their t.v. sets! My best friend introduced me to those weird game shows years ago. After you literally R-O-F-L, you'd immediately thank these brave Japs as they literally do the things that we would just normally talk about as "What Ifs". Then, after that, you'll start to wonder why. Really, why?

Umami Hambaagu House
Beverage containers for sale 

Umami Hambaagu House The Grove Manila

Umami Hambaagu House The Grove Manila
Love the suede upholstered  chairs

Umami Hambaagu House The Grove Manila

Umami Hambaagu House The Grove Manila

Enough with the interiors, let's now go to our main attraction...Hambaagu! Hambaagu {Jenglish for "hamburger"} is a grilled burger patty topped with sauce and served with rice, veggies, or fries. It is under the Yōshoku {Japanese style of Western food} category of dishes. Umami Hambaagu House has a dozen variations of these so-called Japanese burger steaks.

We started our meal with a warm bowl each of Cream of Corn Soup. Each came with the set that we ordered. The soup was simple, comforting, had the right kind of texture, and delicious. Perfect starter to calm down a growling stomach.  

Cream of Corn Soup
Cream of Corn Soup - Additional PhP 60 for each Hambaagu Set

The components of the set menu are similar to Yabu's. It has that "unlimited" component which we all love! Each Hambaagu set comes with the Hambaagu steak, of course, plus unlimited Japanese rice, shredded cabbage with sesame mayonnaise, french fries, and edamame. 

As people who thrive on white rice and will run amok without it, we appreciated how perfectly cooked their white rice was. The fries were also good! The thickly-cut french fries was soft in the middle, crunchy on the sides, and well-seasoned. We're big edamame fans and theirs was done right! The beans easily popped-out of the pod. As for the salad, well, we like Yabu's sesame dressing better.

The cowboy bushi set menu at Umami Hambaagu House Manila

We had difficulty choosing from the twelve Hambaagu steaks on the menu. They all looked enticingly delicious! 

After a few debates, we ended up with the Cowboy Bushi, Takeshi's Castle, The Naked One, and The Hole In One. The Cowboy Bushi is not your typical burger steak with mushroom sauce. The difference lies in the patty. It's tender, huge, savory, and unbelievably juicy.

Hambaagu patties are a made with a mixture of beef and pork. You get the best of both worlds in terms of meatiness. The way the patties are cooked contributes a lot to its juiciness. They are first fried before being popped in the oven for further cooking. The second process, plus the melted fat makes the patties extra juicy, moist, and oh-so good! 

The Cowboy Bushi Umami Hambaagu House
The Cowboy Bushi  Set  PhP 350

The Takeshi's Castle {if you're familiar with this game show and its local version, dude, you're not that young anymore} is the burger version of the Japanese-style pancakes, Okonomiyaki. The cooked Hambaagu patty is topped with shredded seaweed, bonito flakes, sweet sauce, and Japanese mayonnaise. This one is incredibly goooooood! Heaven, I tell you! 

The Takeshi's Castle Umami Hambaagu House
The Takeshi's Castle Set  PhP 345

If you're the kind of glutton who likes everything plain and prefers things without all that jazz, then, the Naked One is the Hambaagu steak for you. The savoriness of the burger made up for the simplicity of its presentation. The juicy patty is glazed with Umami's semi-sweet signature sauce. The sauce seeps right through the juicy meat. Every bite was intense! 

The Naked One is the steak that would suit a kid's palate best. The flavor's not complex. It's been almost five days since we went to Umami, but our youngest is still raving about this dish!

The Naked One Umami Hambaagu House
The Naked One Set  PhP 290

The Hole In One is another rave-worthy dish from Umami Hambaagu House. The burger is richly covered with homemade ketchup and a sunny side-up egg. Dip your fries in the homemade ketchup for extra oomph!

The Hole In One Umami Hambaagu House
The Hole In One Set  PhP 340

The highly satisfying experience we had with our mains got us all excited for our chosen desserts! Our preemptive judgment didn't fail us. The Nutella Crêpe Cake and Deconstructed Tiramisu were both wonderful!

Alternating soft, thin crêpe and nutella layers, the Nutella Crêpe Cake was deliriously good. To have a single layer of crêpe smothered with nutella is more than enough; to have multiple layers of each in a single bite was glorious. For extra sinfulness, top the slice with the whipped cream.

It's also available in Vanilla if you're not into Nutella {what are you made of?}.

Nutella Crêpe Cake

Nutella Crêpe Cake

If you've never murmured an expletive while eating a dessert, then, it's time for you to try Umami's Deconstructed Tiramisu. This one is ev-ry-thing!

Deconstructed Tiramisu Umami Hambaagu House
Deconstructed Tiramisu  PhP 180

Like all the other things in the restaurant, the way the Deconstructed Tiramisu was presented was truly a conversation piece. The glass mug that holds the layered dessert is covered with a drip-o-lator. The device allows the hot water to drip slowly to penetrate the whole thing evenly. How much you pour in depends on the kind of consistency you're going for. We didn't want a very loose type of texture, that's why we only poured about 1/2 of the hot water in.

Deconstructed Tiramisu with dripolator
With the drip-o-lator

The Deconstructed Tiramisu is more like a trifle. There's a surprise jelly-like thing upon every scoop of this amazing dessert aside from the wonderful blend of traditional ingredients.     

Gently pour in the hot water

So, what does does it exactly taste like? Hmmm....let's see; it's like being massaged by Bradley Cooper {left foot} and John Depp {right foot} - at the same time - after doing a 350k marathon while Adam Levine sings "She Will Be Loved" in front of boxers only. If you can all put all that description into taste, you're dead on! If you're a guy reading this, you're welcome to change the aforementioned personalities to your preference. It's cool if you don't wanna.

Deconstructed tiramisu in a glass mug

Even the way the bill was presented was pretty cute!

Special mention and much thanks to the servers who have been really wonderful and tolerant with my sudden outburst of laughter while watching the Japanese game shows. 

Where is it located? Out of respect for the owners' expressed desire, I'd have to direct you to this e-mail addie for the answer: You can also like their Facebook page to know the location. You can find out more about Umami Hambaagu House here.

Quality: 4/5
Service: 5/5
Price: 4/5
Ambiance: 4/5
Cleanliness: 5/5

Umami Hambaagu House Manila
Facebook: Umami Hambaagu House
Twitter: Umami Hambaagu

IMPORTANT: I have to stress this one out due to an influx of emails I get regarding certain things. I'm not associated with, work for, or own this restaurant or any food establishment that I feature on this blog. If you need a copy of their packages, reserve seats for a party, or score a discount {surprised me too}, please direct them to the restaurant's information listed above.  Like you, I'm also just a customer. Thank you! :-)

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