So when I saw the sign for local grilled Wagyu beef with rice for P280 at the Taste and See stall, I had to give it a try. Let me explain two concepts here – the “local” disclaimer and the rice. While the mention of Wagyu usually brings to mind beer-fed cows given daily massages in cow-spas in Japan, there have been many who have tried to bring forth their own bastardized versions of the delicacy. The farmers in Bukidnon have been especially diligent in breeding these bastard Wagyu cattle, and they somehow found their way into the tents of Midnight Mercato and onto my plate. The marbling on the beef isn’t as pronounced though, an obviously cheap imitation of the real thing. As for the rice – well, I’m Asian and more than happy to indulge Asian stereotypes not pertaining to my sexual organs.
I ordered my bastard Wagyu steak, and they tossed a cut on the pan. I have no deep-seated issues with pan-frying steak; most restaurants are actually fond of this method despite their claims as grilling puritans. My issues are with the butter they dabbed on the steak. I understand that this is an even more common practice in most dining establishments, but Wagyu is known for it’s texture and flavor – even a bastardized version deserves some respect. That being said, I was here to discover and try and taste, not lecture – and so I let the man behind the kitchen cook my steak in whatever fucked up fashion he so deemed necessary.
When my steak was ready, I noted with approval that it was cooked between medium rare and medium, which is exactly how I like my steak. It was a small cut, not more than 5oz, and without letting it rest, I went ahead and cut into that fucker. It didn’t go as smoothly as planned as the plastic knife was no match for the less than tender fibers of the meat, so I went the barbaric route and began to pull pieces off with my spoon and fork. I took my first bite, and I was reasonably satisfied. The flavor of the steak was overpowered by the salt, pepper and butter, and it could have been a lot more tender, but for P280, I couldn’t really expect too much.
Because of the butter, I can’t really say if the Bukidnon Wagyu beef was worth the money, but let’s just say it wasn’t awful. Would I eat there again? I’ve flirted with the idea on occasion, and I have since decided that if I ever find myself at Midnight Mercato again, I would probably make a beeline for the Taste and See stall. Was it extraordinary? Memorable? Special? No. But it’s damn sure better than the burgers.