With nothing but the finest organic pork ("buta") and Japanese beef ("wagyu") to entice its customers, Buta+Wagyu is the restaurant for discerning meatlovers eager to please their palates with Japanese and Korean cuisine.
This new specialty restaurant at the Sky Park of SM Aura serves A5 grade Wagyu, the king of beef, which is flown freshly chilled (never frozen) from Japan. Fans of the popular Makati restaurant Wagyu Japanese Beef will find themselves on familiar ground at Buta+Wagyu, as it is run by the same family, with addition of new partners. Choice cuts from different sources -- Kagoshima, Saga, Shiga (Ohmi), Gifu (Hida) -- are available for you to partake on as specialty dishes in the restaurant, or for you to bring home to cook as you please. However, patrons of the older establishment have new things to look forward to as well -- while stone grilled meat is still the crowd pleaser here, some food are a little different, and ambiance definitely more upscale. Modern Korean dishes find their way into the menu, giving more flavor variety for the palate of the Wagyu lover; the slicing of the meat is also distinct for the Korean items.
If the Wagyu jargon can confuse you, the restaurant staff can assist with the different meats they offer, and their menu has helpful descriptions to guide you in choosing your preferred kind of beef. Aside from the Japanese beef, the restaurant highlights organic free-range pork, which comes from their farm in Tarlac. Across the main dining area of Buta+Wagyu is its bar area, which showcases Japanese Whisky, Sake, and beer.
If you want to broaden your carnivorous horizons, Buta+Wagyu is that restaurant that will make learning by eating a definite luxurious treat. There are many ways you can experience top-quality Wagyu and organic pork when you visit this restaurant in SM Aura, and here are top picks from their menu.
Enjoying Wagyu beef raw is one of the eating experiences beef lovers should accomplish this year -- just make sure that you are having it at a restaurant that knows how to prepare it properly, just like Buta+Wagyu. Here, they serve a popular version of the Yukhwe (P950) - it's a Korean tartare using A5 Wagyu ribcap beef, lightly seasoned and served with a shiny, quivering egg yolk in the middle for an extra rich flavor coating every thin slice of beef that slithers and melts on your mouth.
Another raw dish to try is the Wagyu Sushi (P450), where sushi rice is blanketed by a thin slice of A5 Wagyu beef, and topped with garlic and a smidge of pickled ginger. Eat this slowly, with deliberate chews, so you get to fully appreciate how the silky smooth Wagyu melts and gives way to morsels of rice.
Carnivores will appreciate that even salads in this restaurant get much love from meat. The Free Range Organic Pork Salad (P350) still manages to be fresh and crisp with each forkful, as the free range organic pork that tops mixed greens, garlic chips, white onions, and gaban are sliced thinly like sukiyaki beef, and steamed. It comes with black sesame ponzu dressing.
If you prefer your greens hot and cooked rather than on a salad, then order the Japanese stir-fry favorite, Wagyu Yasai Itame (P500). Before the appetizer is cooked, you are presented with the raw Sukiyaki-cut Wagyu that they will be using for your order, so you can inspect its quality and marbling. The vegetables and beef are cooked with ponzu and spices on a hot stone grill.
If you love spicy, then you must not miss out on Buta+Wagyu's Tofu Soup (P150), a portion filling enough for two people for starters, as the Korean style spicy soup is generously chunky with silky discs of tofu, pork, and vegetables. It's absolutely comforting and hearty, the way a good soup should soothe one's stomach.
From appreciating Wagyu in its raw and succulent state for appetizers, you may move on to the next preparation of the beef -- a popular order at the restaurant. Choose among their Wagyu cuts for the Steamed Wagyu (100g/P1,400-1,900), which arrives on your table inside a Japanese pine steamer that can deceive you to think you're about to have some dimsum instead. Lift the lid, and a waft of warm steam emits, and layers of wagyu are neatly piled on top of each other, covering a bed of assorted vegetables steamed along with the beef -- mushrooms, squash, carrots, zucchini, and cabbage. Choices of beef sources include Kagoshima, Saga, Ohmi, and Hida (for Ribeye, Sirloin, Ribcap); Chuck Roll (Ohmi) and Top Round also available steamed, and while the simple steamed beef is marvelous to nibble on as is (it's so tender and natural beef flavors do shine), there's Ponzu and Sesame sauce on the side, and also a secret umami mix of spices that's increasingly addicting each time you lightly dip anything on it.
Having a very tender slab of Wagyu cooking on a hot stone grill on your table is one of the freshest ways you can bite into the beef -- it's fresh from the stone grill so it's perfectly warm, and doneness is always to your liking. A great way to educate your palate of the nuances of different beef cuts without having to order one giant slab of each is getting the Stone Grill Sampler. You may choose the beef source (Ohmi, Kagoshima and Saga) and order it as a Single or a Double (good for 3-4) order, and it gives your palate a passport to Wagyu pleasure: a taste of Chateaubriand, Sirloin, Ribeye, and Chuckroll with some vegetables on the side. For dipping, there are ponzu and sesame sauce, garlic chips on the side, as well as the umami spice mix.
Just like a wine flight, our sampler of four cuts of Wagyu beef were lined up and labeled before they are laid on the hot stone grill to cook -- as each cut was next to a different kind, you can appreciate the nuances in marbling better. We were advised to start our sampling with the Chuckroll and work our way upwards to Chateaubriand, as this Wagyu cut is considered to be the most luxurious one, at the center cut of the tenderloin and is the most tender. While a perfectly medium rare slice of meat is enough to satisfy, this delicious sampling takes appreciation of Wagyu in more conscious bites, and you will find yourself discovering slices of full-flavored meat, tender melt-in-your-mouth beefy bliss, and luscious fatty bites. It's an experience of getting to know the best kinds of beef out there, as much as it is about learning about your own preference when it comes to sinking your teeth into the famed Japanese beef.
Visit Buta+Wagyu at the Skypark, 5th level of SM Aura, open 11am to 1am daily. Like Buta+Wagyu on Facebook (/ButaWagyu) and follow on (@butawagyu) Instagram.