If you can’t go to Japan, go to Mecha Uma!

Published January 21, 2021, 9:29 AM

by Sandy Daza

A couple of years back, the Japanese government came to Manila with the idea of wanting to promote the unknown places of Japan in our country. They met with the Metro Channel heads and, lo and behold, this project fell on my lap. So, Foodprints was to do four one-hour shows in Japan. The Japanese would host us and show us where and what to eat in the Southern prefectures of Japan. God knows my heart and blessed me with this dream project. And to top it all, I was to bring my eldest daughter Ali to co-host with me. 

I’ve always dreamed of going to Japan and just doing a food trip. But it stayed a dream since it was too expensive to do. So this job was a gift from above.

We were taken to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, fine dining places and we were made to try dishes common and unusual, but everything we ate, without exception, was simply outstanding! We had superior Japanese beef that would just melt in your mouth, prawn tempura that was eaten with just salt, oysters grilled by our table side, milk ice cream, tonkatsu that was just out of this world and so much more. I don’t like fresh oysters but Japan changed my mind. We had grilled oysters freshly picked from the sea grilled on our table on the beach. The Japanese rice they served was cooked in the broth of the oysters. This made me close my eyes and thank God for His kindness. I also discovered the many outstanding snacks and dishes available at convenience stores in Japan. 

One of the places we were brought to was in Saga. Here, I was told, we were going to have a sushi meal. It was a tasting menu of all sushi. The credentials of the sushi master? He is considered Number Three in all of Japan, therefore of the world. Master sushi chef Murakami had us sit at his sushi table, in front of him, and personally prepared everything right before our eyes. As he made each one for me and Ali, he would pass it on to us. We were told not to hold the sushi in our fingers for too long for it could change the temperature. He was that detailed. Each and every sushi he handed us made me want to faint in satisfaction. Simply outstanding and just out of this world! I also learned that fresh is not always the best. In fact, there were some seafood items that he would age for a month. Interesting! Ali and I were so full after 10 pieces we could hardly move. But when he asked if we still wanted two more pieces, we somehow made space to accommodate them without regret. What an experience! 

Chef Bruce Ricketts

I have never come across anything like it in my life. Last week, some friends invited for dinner at Mecha Uma in BGC. This place, I remember, was a Japanese fusion restaurant that was quite good. I was told that when this place opened, chef Bruce Ricketts had never set foot in Japan. And to come up with such great food was very impressive. One can call that inborn talent. Things have since changed. He has gone to a few places in Japan a few times. There, he has picked up many more ideas and what we experienced that evening showed it. 

You know how some kids at three years old can sit on a piano and play great music? Chef Bruce Ricketts is like that, born with the talent of a great sushi chef.

His menu this time as opposed to the one I tried before was more authentic. It was a sushi tasting menu that he served us. We sat at the bar and each sushi piece was personally handcrafted by Chef Bruce himself. We started with ankimo or monk fish liver pouched in miso wasabi, and what followed was a parade of sushi delights, such as crab sunomu, grilled mackerel aged 18 days, shrimp chawan mushi, shima aji nigari or aged stripe jack, salmon nigira, Hiroshima oysters cooked karaage style with eel sauce, grilled and lightly marinated yellowtail, chutoro nigari or fatty tuna, smoked fatty tuna belly, seared Hokkaido scallops, salt water nigari, and then a soup and dessert. Each and every sushi he handed to me was exceptional! Best sushi dinner I’ve had in this country. Each bite came with an oooh and aaah! A must! Not cheap but it was an experience of a lifetime. 

You know how some kids at three years old can sit on a piano and play great music? Chef Bruce is like that, born with the talent of a great sushi chef. I know he also has a Mexican restaurant somewhere, which I intend to visit soon. I wish many great Japanese restaurants will develop a sushi tasting menu. Like Mecha Uma, hit ‘yan!

Since we can’t go to Japan, this will more than suffice. Check out Mecha Uma! Happy eating!

Mecha Uma is at the ground floor of The RCBC Buliding, 25th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. 0919 084 5537