Tom Hines has hit on a truly winning formula
It’s been early days for Kobe Jones when I got to dine there the other night. Two weeks from the time they first opened their doors at the ground floor of Le Grand, Valero St., Salcedo Village. But to judge from the steady influx of customers checking on the availability of tables, it would seem this new Tom Hines-creation is already a steady neighborhood favorite.
That shouldn’t be much of a surprise as, over the decades, Tom has been behind some of the more interesting concept restaurants that have sprung up here in Manila and beyond. To name a few, there was Wasabi on Makati Avenue, Lemon at D’Mall in Boracay, and Smith Butcher & Grill Room at de la Costa St., Salcedo Village. And from the mention of those three, you’ll appreciate how Tom has helped shape our culinary landscape, and has offered astute, hip eateries.
Pressed to describe Kobe Jones, I’d say it’s like a mash-up of Wasabi and Smith Butcher. It’s Japanese cuisine merged with a quality steak house menu. And given the penchant of the Japanese for high-quality beef, it’s actually surprising to note that not many other restaurateurs have stumbled upon maximizing this synergy in the past. Leave it then to Tom to bring the two distinct food concepts close to each other, and find that they work harmoniously.
First up, we tried the Sushi Platter, and using the freshest choice cuts, the Salmon sushi and Tuna sushi were great. After this most Eastern of introductions to Kobe, we had oysters, and this was done Western-style, a Kobe Jones version of Oysters Rockefeller. Among our appetizers, the piece de resistance would have to be the Hokkaido Scallops, and Tom was happy to report that their Lemon Butter Scallops have become an early favorite among the patrons of Kobe Jones.
What followed was a big solid tray with the mains of Tenderloin topped with Foie Gras, generous slices of Ribeye, and a basket of Shrimp and Fish Tempura. As Tom enthused, this was his choice Wagyu Beef, and they proved to be excellent. As a siding, we had the Mushroom Risotto, and believe me, this one is a meal unto itself, a great choice to have with any of the main dishes available.
A nice closing option is their Lemon Cheesecake, light and wonderful as a palate neutralizer, after eating all that meat.
Good attentive service, modern yet inviting interiors, an open kitchen, Kobe Jones is one welcome addition to our dining landscape, and it’s good to see Tom back. Some might regard this as fusion, this putting two distinct cuisines side by side, but given Tom’s rich F&B provenance, I think it was really exciting, this blending of his Wasabi & his Smith Butcher. And if the faces of the people dining at Kobe Jones is an indication, Tom has hit on a truly winning formula.