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Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks – Best Wagyu In Makati

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When people hear the word “Wagyu,” they often assume it is meat that only comes from Japan. That’s partly true. However, Wagyu beef can also come from almost anywhere else in the world. It is therefore a Japanese term – guess what! It literally means “Japanese cow!” – that refers to several breeds of cattle where the meat is known for its quality and demands a higher price. Some examples of Wagyu beef are Kobe, Mishima, Matsusaka, Ōmi, and Sanda beef. Besides Japan, the United States, Canada and Australia all breed Wagyu cattle, the latter being the largest outside Japan.

Breeding Wagyu cattle involves different techniques such as massaging, adding beer or sake to the cattle’s feed regimen. In Australia, they add red wine. The cattle’s genetic predisposition yields beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and the increased marbling also increases the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.

Which brings us to a place in Greenbelt 5 where Wagyu beef is prized like the Hope Diamond. The place is Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks, tucked along the row of restaurants fronting the garden area of the five Greenbelt malls. Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks isn’t your typical new kid on the block. It has been around serving the best Certified Angus Beef since 1988. Yep! Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks is an offspring of Melo’s restaurant, the Philippines’ undisputed authority on anything and everything about steaks. The founder of Melo’s is Carmelo “Melo” Santiago who has garnered the title “the guru of steaks” in the country. Besides the numerous Melo’s steak houses that propped up around the metropolis, he ventured into his first Wagyu steak house called “House of Wagyu Stone Grill” which became an instant success.

But we go back to Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks. Six months ago, it quietly opened without fanfare and has been giving its loyal cadre of Filipino steak connoisseurs the best Wagyu beef there is. The founder’s daughter, Chef Cristina Santiago-Rivera, brings a brand new dining experience by combining the best of Wagyu beef with exquisite appetizers, salads and other entrees together with its award-winning desserts from Sweet Bella Desserts.

I was wondering what the glass-encased contraption was the al dente area when I realized they were oysters frozen to a cold temperature at upright positions. I already guessed we were having oysters and that made me smile. True enough. We had a good serving of fresh oysters and Rockefeller style.

We were also served two other appetizers. This one is the stuffed Portobello mushrooms with crab and shrimp stuffed with Parmesan cheese. Loving Portobello mushrooms by itself or mixed with pasta or entrees, this was a delight for our meal.

The other appetizer was the Foie Gras with caramelized apple in red wine with berry sauce. Oh, Foie Gras. It’s now a Filipino favorite while the American style of banning to serve it hasn’t reached our shores yet. Hopefully not.

I kept standing up and sitting down while the initial delicacies were being served when I wandered by the bar. Hey! Red wine! And so, we had red wine though I forgot what was served to us that day. Chilean? Australian? In any case, it was a good start for our late lunch.

And then, Cristina mentioned a drink that seems to be a favorite of their loyal customers, a name so familiar because I had actually lived beside the place where that drink was born: Caipirinha! Brazil’s national cocktail that’s made with cachaca (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and lime. However, Cristina insisted we be served a better one – Caipiroska. Instead of cachaca, it is mixed with Vodka. Ole! Ole! Ole!

The Cesar salad wasn’t bad either. Not something exotic but salads before steaks is always a good start.

And we also had soup – Seafood Chowder.

Now came the steaks. At Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks, everything will be served medium rare unless you specify otherwise. Filipino culture and tradition has always been grilling every kind of meat and almost everything is well done. With high-grade steaks, you don’t do that. The flavour of the meat is best savoured when steak is prepared medium rare. We had three varieties of steaks, two of which were Wagyu steaks, and lamb chops.

But before anything else, I need to interject one more classroom information about Wagyu steaks, and that is they are all graded. In Japanese terms, the meat quality scores are determined in terms of beef marbling, meat color and brightness, firmness and texture of meat, color, luster and quality of fat. Hence, the Quality Grade numbers are as follows:

1 – Poor

2 – Below Average

3-4 – Average

5-7 – Good

8-12 – Excellent

Now, back to what Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks served us.

Certified Angus Beef T-Bone steak priced at P6.50 per gram.

Classic grilled lamb chops served with Truffle mashed potatoes, vegetables and tri-berry sauce priced at P1,100.

Wagyu Striploin – Grade 9, 200 grams priced at P2,700.

Wagyu Tenderloin – Grade 10, 200 grams priced at P3,950.

That’s why I had to explain Wagyu beef quality grades to let you know that this isn’t your ordinary cattle beef raised at your backyard. There are metrics and qualifications, all objectively evaluated and graded before they are passed and stamped with the grade level. And that is why such kinds of steak do not come cheap.

But before anything else, there’s rice. What? A Filipino eating without rice? Impossible! This is probably one of the best kinds of rice I’ve tasted. Wagyu Rice is sticky rice cooked and mixed with pieces of Wagyu steak. It’s not in their menu so make sure you ask for it.

In any case, Cristina made sure we were served Sweet Bella’s award-winning desserts. There is actually a glass-encased (another one) dessert counter where you can choose which to savor after some heavy-hitting Wagyu steak eating. Unfortunately, I did not ask what each dessert was. Being a Sweet Bella fan since it opened at Burgos Circle in Bonifacio Global City, I didn’t have to feel like a newbie to their desserts. But we made sure we had coffee to go with our desserts.

The tandem of Chef Dino Dela Concepcion for the Hot Kitchen and Chef Cristina Rivera for its Pastries from Sweet Bella hits my palate of a very great fine dining experience. Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks is truly the #BestWagyuInMakati if not the entire country. I’ve done Wagyu steaks and Wagyu burgers but the real McCoy has to be a medium rare, high grade level Wagyu steak.

Carmelo’s Wagyu Steaks restaurant is open Mondays through Sundays from lunch time till late dinner. All major credit cards are accepted. For reservations or more information, please call +63 (2) 625-5954 or +63 (2) 625-5986, or e-mail them via carmeloshomeofwagyu@yahoo.com. And while you’re at it, visit and “LIKE” their Facebook Page.

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And when you visit Carmelo’s, tell them you found them out through Miniphilippines.com. Who knows? They might just give you something extra. (*Wink!*)

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Photos by @raffypekson.

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Introducing Soiree Beaujolais 2013 in Manila

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The French Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines—Le Club recently held a different kind of press conference in the Roma Salon of The Manila Hotel yesterday evening, Thursday, October 24, 2013. For one, it was more of an upscale social club party with lots of white and red wine and lots of French-inspired food. But the other thing that made it different was the presence of Filipino bloggers representing well-known online resources like Juan Manila Express, Work@Home Pinas, Digital Spidey, RogueWriter, Enjoying Wonderful World, WazUpPhilippines and (yours truly) MiniPhilippines. Other broadsheets were also present including What’s On Expat Philippines. Arabelle Jimenez, Managing Director of e-Crit Com and long-time media publicist of the chamber, was responsible for inviting the online and social media writers to the affair.

Click to zoomCyril Rocke, the current President of the chamber, hosted the evening together with Champagne Morales (daughter of known singer Dinah Dominguez). Monsieur Rocke began by announcing the upcoming event on November 21, 2013, at the Tent City of The Manila Hotel – Soiree Beaujolais 2013. The chamber has been celebrating the Soiree Beaujolais for the past 22 years in conjunction with a simultaneous gala in most countries of the world where there is a sizable French community including France, of course.

The gala intends to celebrate the launch of Beaujolais Nouveau – the new wine from the rich, fertile grape fields and wineries of Beaujolais region. It is the most popular vin de primeur or nouveau, fermented for just a few weeks before being released for sale on the third Thursday of November every year. Hence, this special day will also be celebrated by the French community in the Philippines together with guests from the diplomatic, corporate and social registers of the country.

According to Monsieur Jean Caillard, Managing Director of the chamber, the whole event will attempt to recreate the moments of Parisian street scenes with couture, music, food and, of course, wine. His Excellency French Ambassador Gilles Garachon will do the honors of uncorking the wine. Performers, couture and jewelry will parade the event, thereafter.

All the wine, cheese and delicatessen are being flown in from France while The Manila Hotel will prepare the other hors d’ oeuvres, charcuterie, oysters, salads, hot French cuisine, pastries and desserts.

Many of the major and minor sponsors include French companies operating in the Philippines like LaFarge Cement, Le Cellier (who provides many of the French wine available in the country), DataOne Asia (owned and managed by Monsieur Rocke), and French oil and gas company Total, to name a few.

For those who would like to enjoy this rare opportunity to savor the Beaujolais Nouveau, including all the French culture and gastronomic experiences this event has to offer, the chamber is selling limited tickets priced at 3,000 Pesos per person. For reservations and ticket sales, please contact the French Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines—Le Club at telephone number 813-9005 or e-mail events@leclub-fcc.org.

Sponsored in part by the following organizations:

Title photo from aglassafterwork.com | Other photos by @raffypekson for MiniPhilippines.com

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