Monday, January 7, 2008

food trip to john and yoko's

sundays are usually delegated to my brother scratching his shopping itch and me just finding things to clutter my head. we've been almost to every mall around, him to every shop and me, saturated with what commercial interiors the metro has to offer. yesterday was no different.

either it was the monotony of what our sundays had become or just the humidity finally taking its toll on my brain that my brother and i decided to up the ante on our weekly ritual. to start with, since we often dine out after his "rounds", why not critique the places we try. and so begins our journey to become critics. i mean, it should be really that hard since we practically do it all the time. "what the hell is she wearing!?", "who died?", and "fishballs taste more appetizing", just to name a few of the comments i catch springing out of my mouth. not really the nicest or even the fairest of comments but hey, this is MY blog and i really don't give a fuck what other ppl think about it, now do i? :) here, i reign queen!

so, who or rather, what, was the first subject for the day. well, title says, "food trip to john and yoko's". must be about "john and yoko's".

given it carrying very recognizable names, i sincerely doubt anyone would have guessed what this eatery serves. owing that i myself hate suspense, the place serves fusion japanese food. i guess that's where yoko steps in, i'm still rather at a loss as to where we get john's influence. anyhu. the restaurant sits at the second level of the newly opened greenbelt 5. one of the many restaurants opening in this newest addition to the ayala supermalls, john and yoko's are so far the only ones offering japanese, thereby monopolizing on the ever present crowd of rich, figure conscious health-buffs.

the interiors of the resto doesn't necessarily evoke a japanese eatery since the use of colors and materials make it look more like a night club, sans the pulsing lights and scantily clothes women (or men) dancing on poles. but over all, the interiors made the place look quite hip and very attractive. a good point for a new restaurant to bring in people. the dining area wasn't really all that spacious and once the place packs in to full capacity, you'd wonder how your food will ever get to you since there is barely room between tables and adjacent chairs. not really the best thing, most especially for claustrophobes like me. wearing tight jeans and a body conscious shirt can also add to the discomfort, quite to my discovery. the chairs were not the most comfortable as they were hard and quite heavy. the tables i also feel were poorly designed. tables and chairs are very important since they directly affect your customers, especially in hospitality interiors. having good tables and chairs could mean more people, more orders and more money. you could have the best food but if people cannot feel good while having it, well, better just to go somewhere else.

that aside, i understand where the design was leading to. the place wanted to generate a hip, chic modern vibe that would complement the selection of food they were offering. clean, slick lines, polished wood, retro mod furniture, and splashes of vivid color lost in a sea of black captures the coolness of what it is be john and yoko. i like how smart the servers were dressed. the dark uniforms worn by the ladies and gents added to the cosmopolitan vibe of the resto, definitely adding to its image value. only wished that they played better music. i can't remember what it was that they were playing anymore but all i remember was how it didn't suit the dining experience in any way, at all!

now, i have to hand it to the guys who designed the menu. for all you people out there who find themselves scratching their head every time they read through a japanese menu, more so any foreign cuisine serving eatery, then this menu is a heaven sent! not only is the menu visually pleasing and well organized (they divided it into tabs, depending on the selection, like a file organaizer), but their selections are well supported by pictures and short description, thereby eliminating the embarrassment of just ordering iced tea! they have quite a selection as well ranging from the classic sushi- sashimi choices, to salads, designer rolls, bento boxes and steaks.
prices aren't that outrageous as well since their marketing (and my guess, the interiors as well) is geared towards catering to families.

now, after four paragraphs about anything other than food, this food review is getting way out of hand. allow me to cut to the chase. here is what i thought of what we ate last night. my brother and i ordered the following:
  • dynamite roll
  • shrimp tempura
  • fois gras fried rice
  • beef teppan, medium
  • tofu steak
  • unagi roll, not really it's name but unagi was the main ingredient
  • house tea, for me
  • mango yakult, for my brother
all the food was served to us on japanese stoneware, of which i can only imagine the dishwasher to be a heavy weight wrestler to be handling such heavy dinnerwares! food presentation was kinda lacking owing probably to the fact that the food is often served already on the dish it is to be eaten from. i however still believe that since one of the main tenets of japanese food is how it looks, they should have at least shown a bit more effort. i mean, the rice looked like, well, rice! how sorry is that!?

the food tasted ok. honestly, nothing spectacular since i have definitely tasted better japanese food elsewhere. there were a few exceptions though. first, the shrimp tempura. this staple to the japanese food experience was truly delightful. i'm not sure if it was the batter or the use of meaty prawns that made it so good but definitely, it was my favorite of the night. the tea was also excellent. i was just going to order water (since i like to taste my food without it being distracted by a sugar-laden drink) but our server insisted that i just had to try their tea, and i have to say, i am impressed. it had a floral flavor to it, mixing o so well with that woodsy taste of japanese tea. a perfect complement to the food that we were having. an interesting dish we ordered last night was the foie gras rice. not really something you'd expect in a japanese restaurant if i say so, but since it was there and both of us were craving for something sinful, well, we ordered away! it was basically seared goose liver topped over teppanyaki fried rice. quite a "healthy" serving and for about 300 bucks that's good enough for two, it's not all that bad. the tofu steak was ok, though i prefer kitaro's version more. the dynamite roll was a tad bit dry for my taste. actually, there wasn't anything "dynamite" about it. but of all we ordered, the unagi roll was by far the biggest disappointment. to start with, there wasn't much of the unagi in it to enjoy. it was dry like the dynamite and the mayo overpowered almost everything in the roll. sad really, i was so looking forward to having eel.

overall, in a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being "i will report you to the food and drug agency and have your license revoked!", and 10 being " i can see michelin stars!!!", i give john and yoko a 6.5.

there was a cohesiveness to the overall packaging of the restaurant, from the interiors to the servers to the food, offering a spin off of your typical japanese menu and giving it a very cosmopolitan twist. very good ambiance yet they definitely would need to work out some of the space issues if they want to draw in more of the snootier crowd. food is on a so-so basis since there were quite some hits and misses. the drinks were good (including the flavored yakult) but they definitely need to work on their other products. it is good that they are so far the only restaurant serving modern japanese, because if they get competition (which is very likely) then i am afraid the interiors won't be enough to keep the people coming.

OMG, i just noticed this now. what the hell is happening on the video? (see left wall)

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