MANILA -- Barbara Ann Reyes Javelosa just wanted to cook and cook.
She started by supplying a well-known department store with her apple pie and cake. In 2015, she started taking orders for her food upon the encouragement of friends. From something she did for fun, she eventually saw the potential of seriously putting up a business, which she has dubbed Bambi’s Home Kitchen.
“My price was a bit higher than the others because, number one, mine is gourmet. Second, I don't shortchange people, especially when it comes to ingredients. I don't do extenders. I don't do MSG,” Javelosa explained.
In short, you do get what you pay for. The servings are huge and meant for sharing at prices that are a fraction of those charged by restaurants and hotels.
This home cook’s food samplings are the stuff of foodie legend. People in the know are still talking about her prime rib carvings from the previous year. Javelosa also has a following for her Spanish and Italian specialties.
This year, her table is set with her interpretations of Japanese favorites made with premium ingredients, her passion for Japanese cooking, and the skill of her kitchen staff trained in top hotels from the Middle East.
Though the menu has entrees one can expect from a Japanese menu, she added her own spin, or unusually high-quality ingredients, to separate herself from other home cooks. Her plates are eye-catching often using tobiko (Japanese fish eggs) and ikura (salmon eggs) as a tasty garnish.
Bambi’s Gourmet Kitchen is a sure way to level up a family dinner or a Christmas party. Who can resist having five-star hotel quality food finished in your own kitchen and served in your own dinner table?
Here's a sampling of her Japanese offerings:
Javelosa’s sushi and maki menu has the usual tuna, salmon, and California rolls. But she also has Bambi’s Rolls and Quito’s Rolls, named after her and her son, respectively. Fried salmon skin is an ingredient she uses to add crunch to her rolls.
She has an array of mahi-mahi and salmon sashimi made of the freshest fish. If that’s not enough, special fatty otoro tuna straight from Japan can be ordered through Bambi’s Kitchen.
The Spicy Salmon Salad topped with salty tobiko (Japanese fish eggs) is a nice starter alongside her maki and sashimi.
Favorites like kara-age, or Japanese fried chicken, are done well. The chicken is golden brown and delicious on the outside, properly juicy on the inside.
Tonkatsu is another Japanese favorite. Javelosa’s version is nicely tender because she makes these breaded pork cutlets with premium Kurobota pork.
The Japanese are really known for their seafood dishes. Bambi’s Kitchen has no shortage of these starting with her tempura made with large prawns.
If you’re looking for something more exotic, try her soft-shell crab tempura which can be eaten in one bite.
Javelosa's panko-coated deep-fried oysters burst with the flavor of the sea upon first bite of crunchy on the outside, soft and juicy on the inside.
The kitchen team also seems to be proficient with the hibachi (Japanese grill). If you’re a fan of tawilis, eating the oilier and meatier grilled shishamo (smelt) is a similar experience. You eat the whole fish including the bones.
The meaty Hamachi Kama or yellowfin tuna collar is regarded by seafood lovers in the know as the best part of the fish. Bambi’s Kitchen does justice to this by simply grilling it and letting the meaty flavor shine.
For Japanese curry lovers, Javelosa’s saucy version is chockfull of tender wagyu beef cubes, potatoes and carrots.
This sukiyaki is fully loaded to the brim with beef, leeks, and tofu. Of note is her use of shirataki noodles which stay chewy even after being left in her sweet salty broth for some time.
Local wagyu is used for teppanyaki served with yasai ttame, stir-fried carrots, cabbage and bean sprouts. If you want really something special. Javelosa can make these with Matsusaka beef hand-carried and flown in from Japan by special advance order.
Javelosa’s grand finale was prime rib glazed with her own teriyaki sauce. Order this medium rare as that’s the best way to get the most out of the beef and the sweet sauce.
Javelosa is still adding to the list of her Japanese offerings. She also has tofu dishes and ramen that’s been specially packed for takeout to preserve the noodle’s quality. It pays to check on Bambi’s Gourmet Kitchen's Instagram account to see what else she and her team are cooking up in the kitchen.
The Japanese specials of Bambi’s Gourmet Kitchen can be ordered online. Please see visit its Facebook or Instagram page for more information, the complete menu, as well as lead times for each entrée.