13 - Boiled Matsusaka beef (boiled not grilled so the dish is not a star to create a more subtle finish) with a special mixed rice (this description does not do the rice justice). Not in photo: blue cheese and sake dip for the beef. Culture / Eat + Drink / People

Theresa Leung experiences Mecha Uma for the first time

Bruce Ricketts is a rockstar chef. He’s a passionate cook who has been the talk of the town for some time now. One can literally feed off his passion. His first restaurant is Sensei Sushi located in 268 Aguirre Avenue, B.F. Homes, Parañaque City. A no nonsense restaurant that serves Japanese food the way Bruce thinks it should be prepared, cooked and served. It may come as a surprise that he hasn’t been to Japan when he opened his restaurant because it was well received by those familiar with Japanese cuisine. Diners braved the traffic to try the restaurant because of excellent reviews.

At the age of 16, Bruce started his career in the kitchen as a dishwasher. He befriended the chefs because it made him popular with the girls. This was in San Diego and he worked for Michelin rated chefs/restaurants. He has come along way since then with 3 restaurants under his belt, Sensei Sushi, Ooma in SM Megamall and Mecha Uma.

Mecha Uma is a gastronomical haven for one who loves food and has an appreciation for the process – from chef to table. This 32-seater restaurant located in the RCBC Building in Fort’s Bonifacio Global City is known for its omakase. Omakase when directly translated from Japanese means respectfully leaving another to decide what is best. It’s the Japanese version of a degustation or tasting menu and only the freshest ingredients are used. It is a meal consisting of dishes selected by the chef.

1 - tuna & yellow tail

1 – tuna & yellow tail

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2 – Hokkaido uni and tofu

3 - scallops, jelly made from sake, ice made from lime capped off with a sake based cocktail

3 – scallops, jelly made from sake, ice made from lime capped off with a sake based cocktail

4 - Japanese mackerel & monggo + freshly grated coconut. Loved the smoky flavour.

4 – Japanese mackerel and monggo purée + freshly grated coconut. Loved the smoky flavour.

Bruce in his element.

Bruce in his element.

5 - Amadi (Japanese tile fish) blow torched with scales, mushrooms & crab, manchego cheese + potato, bones of fish were used to create "mayo" dressing of potatoes. No eggs were used. This was the most interesting dish for me.

5 – Amadi (Japanese tile fish) blow torched with scales, mushrooms & crab, manchego cheese + potato, bones of fish were used to create “mayo” dressing of potatoes. No eggs were used. This was the most interesting dish for me.

6 - squid ink chicharon topped with foie gras and unagi

6 – squid ink chicharon topped with foie gras and unagi

7 - Chu toro, medium fatty tuna, aged for 7 days

7 – Chu toro, medium fatty tuna, aged for 7 days

8 - shima aji aged like steak for 3 days with a little bit of ginger (he usually ages the fish to get better flavour)

8 – shima aji aged like steak for 3 days with a little bit of ginger (he usually ages the fish to get better flavour)

9 – buri marinated in sake

10 - Smoked otoro with sea salt. Melts in your mouth goodness.

10 – Smoked otoro with sea salt. Melts in your mouth goodness.

11 - 3 layers of otoro. Party in my mouth! We got this as a bonus because we were happy diners.

11 – 3 layers of otoro. Party in my mouth! We got this as a bonus because we were happy diners.

12 - Uni & toro. Another bonus from Bruce!

12 – Uni & toro. Another bonus from Bruce!

13 - Boiled Matsusaka beef (boiled not grilled so the dish is not a star to create a more subtle finish) with a special mixed rice (this description does not do the rice justice). Not in photo: blue cheese and sake dip for the beef.

13 – Boiled Matsusaka beef (Bruce explains that boiling the beef and not grilling it makes it less of a star dish to create a more subtle finish) with a special mixed rice (this description does not do the rice justice). Not in photo: blue cheese and sake dip for the beef.

After a few bites of this dish, Bruce instructed us to put the soup that came with it, that brought out a different flavour.

After a few bites of this dish, Bruce instructed us to put the soup that came with it, that brought out a different flavour.

14 - white chocolate made of tofu, sake ice cream, cream cheese chips, radish, and pear. Strong finish!

14 – white chocolate made of tofu, sake ice cream, cream cheese chips, radish, and pear. Strong finish!

As we devour our dessert and Bruce is winding down from dinner service, he chats with us about his craft. “When you make sushi everyday you get schooled by your own craft.” says Bruce. He gets better each time. To him putting wasabi, rice & sushi together is an art. There are a lot of ways to prepare the rice alone and he still continues to experiment with this. Even the way the rice is pressed is important to Bruce and I admire his passion for this. He encouraged us to use our fingers to pick up the sushi and eat it right away before the rice settled. He was happy about the fact that we were obedient diners and was feeding off on our energy that same way we were with him. It’s was an energy exchange.

Battle Royale. Sake, cucumber, soda. Refreshing cocktail!

Battle Royale. Sake, cucumber, soda. Refreshing cocktail!

Success comes easily for people who love what they do. This is evident in Bruce. “We are not yet open for lunch because sometimes it takes the whole day to prepare the food for dinner.” he shares. Some days he comes in at 9am to start the food preparations. He likes to be on top of everything so that if something goes wrong he has no one to blame but himself. Fun starts at 6pm for him because all the “heavy-lifting” has been done. Mecha Uma’s omakase is so personal for Bruce, you can almost taste his passion with each bite. It has so much flavor and so much heart you will dream of your next visit to be inspired by his food.

I was fortunate enough to have dined in 12-seater Momofuku Ko in New York and that wonderful experience is at par with that of Mecha Uma. Bruce Ricketts is world-class. He is a force to be reckon with because he is young and talented, passionate, hardworking, engaging and humble. That is a deadly combination.

Catch some snaps of my omakase experience before it disappears!

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