The New Meat-ing Place: Wagyumafia
Come middle of the year, the new Meat-ing place in Manila will be Wagyumafia at the BGC. Full details had to be kept undisclosed as contracts are still to be signed; but if the tasting experience held at Manila House is any indication, this will be the one that may burn a hole in your pocket, but leave you happy and wanting more. A concept, more than a regular restaurant, Wagyumafia is the brainchild of two 'enfant terribles' of the Japanese Internet business, Takafumi Horie and Hisato Hamada. Ostensibly out to promote Wagyu Beef and cut out the middlemen by delivering the meat directly to the buyers, the eateries are Members Only establishments that have gone beyond Tokyo, and have sprouted in cities such as San Francisco - with Wagyumafia Manila set to open in July of this year.
The mafia at work
Two of the local Wagyumafia partners, Amado Fores and LA Vergara
With such 'rebels' and natural showmen at the Wagyumafia helm, it's no wonder that the Manila franchise is headed by a group of young food entrepreneurs - the Clavano brothers, LA Vergara, Amado Fores (son of Margarita), and Carlo Alvarez. For the event that served as a preview, founding partner Hisato Hamada flew to Manila and the organizers 'drafted' Bruce Ricketts to team up with Hamada, and turn the event into an experience!
Japanese Uni with Shiso and Truffle Salt
The Uni from Hokkaido
And it certainly was from the outset, as the very select guest list was a mix of old guard Society and the young new Turks all mingling together. The first dish Hamada and Ricketts presented was Japanese Uni with Shiso and Truffle Salt, on Wagyu over seasoned rice. An home run at first bat, this one had flavors that mingled, teased, fought for your attention, and in the end, made you surrender with pleasure! A variant, deconstructed, and served in a cup was the second dish presented.
The third was something very special, a Wagyu Bulalo! A buttery stock formed the soup, and the morsels of beef were extra tender, so this became an immediate favorite as far as I was concerned. A unique take on our Bulalo, I know my sons will love this one.
Ever the Showman one of Wagyumafia’s founding partners Hisato Hamada and his ‘calling card’
The All-Mighty Bruce with slabs of Heaven
Bruce Ricketts & Wagyumafia’s Hisato Hamada welcome you to their Meat-ing place
With just calamansi as seasoning, we were treated to trays of Wagyu Beef pieces that had us all saying that the most important thing to hold on to during this stage, was our fork. From within the Grill Station, both Hisato and Bruce would mug for the cameras while expertly cutting slabs of Wagyu and sending them out after grilling.
The Wagyu Cutlet Sandwich. photo by Pepper Teehankee
Like I said, the founding partners are natural showmen, and Hisato proved this time and time again - knowing that every pose, every smile, would spread and make people anticipate the opening of Wagyumafia. That it will follow the concept of membership remains to be seen. But I know that in San Francisco, Wagyumafia's Beef Cutlet Sandwich is the sort of thing legends are made from. Priced somewhere in the $180 range, it's fast become a status symbol of wanting the best, and getting it.