Choosing which dining place in Metro Manila to go for a snack or dinner, al fresco, may seem overwhelming. There’s a broad variety of restaurants, and depending on your companions, you may have to spend time trying to come to an agreement. Will it be that cozy diner you always frequent, or something entirely different?
The safest decisions always seem to be European or Japanese cuisines. Maybe you’re into East meets West, or just one or the other. You can never go wrong with a good sushi restaurant, or some hole-in-the-wall that serves a decent Florentine steak. But have you ever considered the possibility of enjoying both?
At the newly opened JAEU Bistro and Ramen Bar in Filinvest, Muntinlupa, two different food worlds can be explored. The restaurant’s dual-cuisine menu has ramen and Japanese side dishes, and a curated European fare.
JAEU has committed itself to do things properly, and it all starts with its chef de cuisine, Joji Padua.
Trained in Barcelona and educated in the art of ramen making in Yokohama, Padua has worked in the kitchens of Michelin-star restaurants in the United States. He has also trained JAEU’s cooks to ensure that they routinely give justice to the menu that he himself designed.
One look at the restaurant interior proves that ample thought was put into the process—it reflects how the menu manages to splice up two dining experiences. The layout is a seamless intersect of two architectural themes: European, as seen in the dark wood chevron flooring, rustic walnut furnishings, maroon drapes, and plush slide-in seating; and Japanese, evident in the sliding screen doors, light oak planking, and minimalist white decorations.
Even the cashier and the suggestion of an open kitchen reflect an organized chaos of eclectic signages reminiscent of food stalls in Japan. It does well to maintain a certain ambiance that sets the standard for your food.
Worth multiple visits
The meals are worth multiple visits. JAEU’s classic iekei ramen alone, a tame and understated noodle course that epitomizes the comfort often attributed to the dish, has a traditional, reliable flavor.
If you’re adventurous and seeking something different, there’s the delicious mase soba, a savory, salty, dry ramen (quite daring that there’s no broth) —just add vinegar to taste.
If you’re looking for any fan favorites of the bolder variety, the restaurant also has an interesting cold ramen that teeters onto the sweet side, as well as a spicy tantanmen with a bit of a kick in it.
Enjoy your noodles with a nice serving of fried gyoza drizzled with unagi sauce and chili oil, or maybe kick back with some refreshing cold tofu topped with bonito flakes. The world’s your oyster.
What about the European side? JAEU is still working on expanding the options, but so far, it has gotten a wonderful grasp of the basics.
Its traditional steak and frites are a delightful pair of mouth-watering medallions with a well-seasoned plate of skinny fries, the latter good enough to eat without embellishments.
To top it off, the secret steak sauce is a delectable mystery you’ll want to taste and try to figure out. There are likely a million delicious things in there, and half of them you’ll probably never guess.
For seafood lovers
For seafood lovers, a notable dish is the mackerel with salsa verde. If you’ve never experienced this fish without any of that gamey, seaside smell or aftertaste, you’re in for a surprise.
Its mackerel is carefully prepared and practically cooked to perfection, so you can appreciate it the way it was meant to.
The house salsa verde is a wonderful accompaniment to every morsel, just as much as the herbed mashed potato and steamed leeks served alongside it.
Other things to sample are the sausage platters that come with a side of aligot, for example, which you may vaguely know as the stringy, gooey, mouthwatering dish that evenly combines mashed potatoes and a mix of cheeses, particularly gruyere and mozzarella.
After which you may enjoy a cool, refreshing glass of sake mojito, which has an almost traitorous absence of bitterness while remaining addicting sweet. Sounds silly, but it somehow works well with the freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that come with a glass of ice-cold milk.
This restaurant takes pride in its honest cooking and homemade sauces and soups.
Plus, if you’re thinking about turning your crowd into a party, there’s no need to fuss— JAEU has a soundproof, insulated function room that can fit about two dozen people. –CONTRIBUTED
JAEU Bistro and Ramen Bar is at UG/L, Festival Supermall Expansion, Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa. Call 821 8006