An affordable Watami spin-off

Watami is a famous Japanese restaurant chain that has hundreds of branches internationally. In the Philippines, the brand has two branches but it recently launched a spin-off restaurant. A more casual kind of joint that draws inspiration from the Japanese izakaya.

The Watami Grill and Sushi Bar is the izakaya version of the popular food chain. Izakaya is a kind of casual gastropub in Japan where workers frequent for an after office happy hour. These pubs usually serve Japanese street food and drinks. The new Watami spin-off offer the similar feel and menu, like authentic izakayas. It’s much more affordable, too.

assorted nigiri sushi_01 (SB)
Assorted nigiri sushi

I was lucky enough to attend the launch of its first branch at Uptown Mall, BGC. The first thing I noticed about the restaurant is its size, it’s pretty small compared to the regular Watami restaurants. They really committed to the izakaya concept. While the actual restaurant is small, it can still accommodate a number of diners because seating is available outside the restaurant, which is still inside the mall so, airconditioning. Yay!

One menu item that I was immediately drawn to—the yakitori or grilled skewers. I love grilled food because barbecue is life. There are several choices from pork belly to bacon asparagus to chicken thigh to chicken skin. The resto also grills fresh fish like sanma (pacific saury), sword fish, and mackerel. I’m already happy with a plateful of yakitori and a glass of Asahi.

beef rice bowl with Tokyo style hot spring egg_01 (SB)
Beef rice bowl with Tokyo style hot spring egg

But the restaurant’s menu goes beyond meat on sticks because it also serves sushi, rice bowls, and many more like the very popular Watami Salad. It’s a bowl of mixed greens, tomatoes, slices of grilled chicken teriyaki, shrimp, and crispy wonton chips, all dressed with the special tuna-mayo paste dressing. The nigiri sushi is also a must-try as well as the rice bowls for those looking for filling meals.

And in true izakaya fashion, you can pair your eats with your choice of alcoholic drinks.

grilled sanma (SB)
Grilled sanma (pacific saury)

“You can go small or big. The nigiri sushi and the rice bowls we see this a popular dishes. In Japan, they don’t really have a lot of rice bowls but since we are a rice-eating country, we cannot discount that fact, so we added more variety,” said Bistro Group AVP for Marketing Lisa Ronquillo. Bistro Group is responsible for bringing the Watami brand to the Philippines.

Read my Manila Bulletin Lifestyle article here.

Watami Grill and Sushi Bar, Fourth Floor, Up Town Mall, Bonifacio Global City; Facebook/WatamiJapaneseCasualRestaurantPhilippines

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