Beef Ninja is a Pares In Disguise

About two weeks ago, Nengkoy, I and my family had an early dinner in one of the posh and popular Filipino-fusion cuisine restaurant just beside the lobby of the deluxe and swanky Conrad Hotel (hahaha! I refuse to name the restaurant). It was my first time tasting Pares in that dinner.

Pares is the Filipino’s common reference to a Braised Beef Stew usually paired with garlic fried rice and a bowl of clear soup. Pares is a common dish served in carinderias (small local eateries) usually found along the side streets of Manila.

Since it was my first time, I don’t really have an idea how a good Pares tastes like. That is why I did not know if the version of the posh restaurant was way superior as compared to other Pares-es served in customary, regular and more economical carinderias.

My adventurous nephews however are more well-versed than I am in terms of the taste of Manila’s street food and cuisine. My nephews particularly Denden commented that the Pares served in Café Adriatico is way more delicious as compared to the version served in the restaurant we were having dinner at. He nevertheless commented that the food presentation by the posh restaurant was way more gorgeous as compared to the plain and simple Café Adriatico dish.

When I try to recall if Café Adriatico serves Pares, without batting an eyelash, I reminded Denden that Café Adriatico does not serve it. He then informed me that Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja dish is actually a Pares disguised in a modest presentation and is called in a different appellation.

beef ninja (pares in disguise)
cafe adriatico in malate

My other nephew Luis confirmed this observation and stated that indeed, Beef Ninja of Café Adriatico is a Pares dish. Both agreed that though it needs improvement in terms of food presentation, Café Adriatico’s Beef Ninja is among the top three Pares-es they have ever tasted.

This inspired me to order Beef Ninja when I had the chance to dine at the 40-year old Café Adriatico in their Malate, Manila branch. While doing some photo shoot of the dish, I wonder which came first in terms of evolution. Was it Beef Ninja of the 40-year old restaurant or was it Pares served in carinderias? I may not know the birth of Pares and how it really tastes like, I nevertheless savored the delicious flavor of one of the best Pares (in disguise) dish on the planet.

Ang sarap!

Advertisements

Fast Fantastic Food at Estero

Last Sunday, I woke up wanting to go to Ongpin, the Chinese Capital of the Philippines.  As soon as I opened my eyes after a long and quiet sleep, my katawang lupa (flesh and corporeal being) just suddenly crave for the look, the noise and the smell of Ongpin. 

Thanks to super friend Willie, he accompanied me and made my silly craving a reality.  My longing was really plain and unchallenging.  I just wanted to walk the super busy street of Ongpin, buy a snack and then leave.  But thank goodness I was with itinerant Willie because he knows a very good eatery in this old and hoary part of Manila.

We dined at what is known as Estero.  It is a non-air-conditioned diner that is right beside a creek and a tidal channel used as drainage canal in the overly populated area of Manila. I was at first so tentative and doubtful about the place.  But when the gentle lady manning the eatery approached us and handed the menu, I knew that I was into some exciting gastronomic adventure. 

estero (if I was the owner, i would call it “estuary” para sosyal)
classic yang chow rice and the surprisingly good hototay soup!
joyous version of their mung bean sprouts
buttered chicken is love
happy tummy!

Estero is tagged as a fast food on the internet but it is unlike the usual fast food that items were pre-prepared and placed on a heater display.  Estero food are only cooked upon ordering.  Maybe the reason why it is called fast food is because the kitchen is equipped with high pressure burners and the cooks prepare their dishes so fast.  In a haste, the server was already serving our freshly cooked Hototay and the surprisingly crunchy Stir-Fried Mung Bean Sprouts.

Aside from the very good food, Estero’s price was surprisingly cheap.  Total bill of all the fantastic dishes we ordered was roughly around 8 (US) dollars.

Yam yam!

A Vlogging Suggestion: Try Knock Out Kare Kare

Vloggers and bloggers living comfy life outside the Philippines but has been here in my country seem so fascinated with Jollibee, the number one fast food chain here in the Philippines. Every foreigner who’s been here in the Philippines never seem to fail to chronicle their first Jollibee Chickenjoy or Yumburger experience. Youtube videos of vloggers trying Jollibee for the first time are so plenty, it makes me bored.

the true and not so happy chickenjoy


Every foreigner seem so entranced as if their visit, adventure and experience here in the Philippines would not be complete if they fail to dine at Jollibee. These foreigners don’t realize (I guess until they have tasted Chickenjoy) that there really is nothing unique and extraordinary with the palatal offering of this fastfood staple. Kudos to the powers of Jollibee’s advertising campaign and marketing team.

knockout kare-kare!

I really have nothing against the giant Jollibee, except for the worst form of spaghetti that they sell, but for me foreign bloggers and vloggers alike who plans to come and visit, should instead try for themselves a dish that is truly Filipino. It is named Knock-Out Kare-Kare.
Why then am I suggesting it?
First is because Knock-Out Kare-Kare is a fusion of two popular and authentic Filipino dishes, the Krispy Pata (deep fried pig trotters and knuckles) and the Kare-Kare (Philippine oxtail and ox tripe stew in thick savory peanut sauce). Therefore, having this dish is like experiencing two Filipino gastronomic experiences rolled into one.
Second is because Knock-Out Kare-Kare is not as creepy as that of the popular Balut or Dinuguan. A lot of foreigners have considered Filipino cuisine to be so fierce and ferocious. This is because of the scary Balut and the vicious looking Dinuguan. But in Knock-Out Kare-Kare, there really is nothing to be terrified about. The golden-brown crispy skin of the Crispy Pata teases you with the promise of juicy meat within. While the aroma and smoothness of the peanut sauce and vegetables of the Kare-Kare adds up to the anticipation that there is nothing to be scared about regarding the usually vicious Filipino cuisine.
Third, this amazing fusion and mingling of 2 Filipino dishes can be found in Abe, the leading Filipino restaurant here in the Philippines. I know Jollibee is all around the Philippines in which there really is no challenge at all on locating one, but the travel experience of trying to locate and finding your way to the best local restaurant of a country really adds up to some travel adventure in a foreign country. The experience is like being an Australian trying to locate the best Turkish restaurant in Turkey or a Japanese tourist trying to trace the location of the best Italian restaurant in Italy.
As of now, let me message all foreign tourists, vloggers and bloggers that chronicling your Jollibee experience is a tired format and exhausted routine. Try something more interesting and really more Pinoy. Try Knock Out Kare Kare for it will surely knock your wits off!
Aba’y deserbing!

Señor Sisig at Powell & Ellis

I did not miss the Philippines when I was in San Francisco CA.  Aside from the copious presence of Filipinos everywhere in SF, there are bounteous existence of Filipino dishes around.  The mere fact that at the back of my mind there is a Filipino whom I can easily approach while in SF and there are Pinoy dishes around, I never have to suffer the looney craving for my home country.

During my early stay in San Francisco I had an unfaltering decision of not eating any Filipino dish during the whole length of my stay in the City by the Bay.  And at the same time will munch on a big and heavy burrito, a seem-to-be-staple for the locals.  This decision however was easily modified when I saw a food truck named Señor Sisig parked along the corner streets of Powell and Ellis at downtown San Francisco.

it must be the filipino in me that i just have to fall in line
pabili!
popular choices…
sisig burrito
gone in a couple of minutes

Since there is a queue of people on the said food truck, out of curiosity, I quietly fall in line and looked unto the menu board that the food truck offers.  To my surprise, Señor Sisig offers a variety of Filipino fusion dishes.  This therefore made me decide to violate what I have earlier promised yet will achieve what I intend to eat at the same time.

I ordered the surprisingly large and heavy “Señor Sisig Burrito” – a Filipino-cum-San Franciscan dish because it is a fusion of Sisig (a Kapampangan dish) presented in a San Francisco burrito way.  And what’s my verdict as to how this dish faired? Let me just say I gasped on my first bite and the large burrito was gone in a matter of minutes!

My experience of chomping on Senor Sisig Burrito can therefore be summarized as a promise that was broken yet a fantasy that came true wrapped into one.

Sarap!

Pancit Batil Patung at Shallots-All-You-Can Joint

The usual main aim of an out of town adventure is to see and experience for yourself the scenic view of your planned destination.  While the food in your destination would usually come in as an additional perk to an already awesome adventure.

But this is not the case with my recent out of town adventure in Tuguegarao, Cagayan province.  I, MJ, JB and Willie (my officemates) went to Tuguegarao for a long weekend with two major aims in mind:  to visit the majestic Callo Cave and to take a bite of Tuguegarao’s unique noodle dish.

 

super special batil patung at jomar's
super special batil patung at jomar’s

Pancit Batil Patung on my first chomp was like an explosion of flavors in my palate.  The delicious mixture of ingredients was so awesome it will make your taste buds wanna grow hands for it to give a good round of applause.

But let me digress from the as-expected delicious taste of this dish to that of the surprising and unique experience we had when we went and ordered our Pancit Batil Patung at Jomar’s Panceteria (panceteria: English translation, noodle house).

Jomar’s Panceteria only serves Pancit Batil Patung and there’s nothing else in the menu.  Thus, you would really conclude that their noodle dish is one of the best since it’s the only dish that keeps their store alive.  Nevertheless, their pancit are of three varieties, i.e. regular, special and super special.  All four of us of course did not settle for less and opted for the Super Special which only costs eighty pesos (or less than US$ 2).

happy tummy...
happy tummy… (with mj, jb and willie)

Our astonishment in the restaurant was further driven when we noticed at one corner of the dining area was the presence of a ginormous chopping board, several knives and a huge sack full of pungent shallots.

While we were having the first bite of the pancit (egg noodle), we noticed people were actually proceeding to the monster chopping board and were actually peeling off and mincing the shallots.  After which they would place it on a small saucer and bring to their table.  We then saw them pour soy sauce and scooped a generous amount so as to top it on their Pancit Batil Patung.

We then asked our companion Willie to peel and chop red onions for us.  And when he could no longer take it he went back to our table serving a meager amount of minced shallots with uncontrollable tears in his eyes.  We on the other hand were laughing so hard!

big portions!!!
big portions!!!
extra challenge part of the adventure!
extra challenge part of the adventure!
pose muna
pose muna with the “cusinera

That’s when we realized that Jomar’s Pancit Batil Patung was a shallots-all-you-can panciteria!  I was actually telling my companions that Jomar’s should replace the knives and chopping board with a food processor so that it would be “no-more-tears” and would be easier for their guests.  But then again, I realized that if electric food processor would be installed, the odd extra-challenge, fun and uniqueness of the whole experience would be expunged.

Where in the world would you find a restaurant that has this kind of an offering?  Pancit Batil Patung at Jomar’s was definitely one unique, enjoyable and tummy-filling part of our adventure in Tuguegarao.

Sibuyas pa mor!

The Peanut Butter That Will Tantalize Your Tastebuds

nanay pacing, i was surprised that she was the one manning the store...
the lady on the label.  i was surprised that she was the one manning the store…

In some recent past, Philippine society got so crazed up by a food paste known as Speculoos Cookie Butter.  We were so wildly insane about it, it seem like a status symbol to own at least one jar.  As if possessing one jar is to have an insane bragging right.  Filipinos then would even post a photo of their cookie butter jar on their Facebook page!

Now that the hype has calmed down  and that Trader Joe’s in California (where this spread is sold) are no longer infested with Filipinos lining up to buy jars of it, there has yet to have another food paste that Pinoy society would have to be crazy about.

While waiting for the re-emergence of such phenomenon, let me introduce you to a locally-made food spread that will tantalize your tastebuds. It’s the Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter!

Buying two jars of this spread was the best purchase I made when I recently been to Baler in Aurora Province.  This peanut butter, my goodness, is evil!

one rare source of gastronomic happiness
warning! highly addictive…
glad to have discovered it in baler
glad to have discovered it in baler

In case you got hold of this creamy peanut butter and tried it for yourself, and you think you did not like it, then perhaps there must be no joy in your life and I hope things would get better soon.

There are few things in this world that deserves some great recognition, Nanay Pacing’s Peanut Butter is one of them!  And because of its magical taste which emanates the secretion of happy chemical compounds in the brain, I will then submit a formal nomination of Nanay Pacing to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Chemistry and Physiology.

Maning may mantikilya o mantikilyang may mani? Basta yami!

The Best and Most Favorite Filipino Restaurant

It is a common notion and a customary aspiration that if you are in a foreign land, you would want to taste the best and most favorite that such locale or country has to offer.  Meaning, if you are in France you would normally want to dine in the best or most preferred French restaurant.  Or if you are in Italy you would of course aspire to eat at the best or most popular Italian restaurant.  But when in the Philippines, has it been determined which would be the restaurant where to taste the best and most preferred Filipino cuisine?

The Filipino cuisine is experiencing a renaissance in the world cuisine stage. The world is now discovering that the Filipino cuisine is not just the exotic “balut”.  Thus, it is essential to determine in today’s generation which Filipino restaurant in the Philippines is the best and the most favorite.  Here are two trusty basis for this.  One for being the best while the other for being the most favorite.

One would be based on the selection made by MBKRS which is short for Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secret award.  MBKRS is a biennial awarding body considered by a lot of Filipino foodies and food establishments as the most prestigious award that recognizes excellence in city dining scene.

Two would be based on the honor given by the recently concluded Choice Awards 2015.  A new food-scene recognizing body which was established and organized by popular and “powerful” food bloggers in the Philippines.  This award does not recognizes the best of the country’s food and food establishments but instead honors the most commonly preferred and most favorites.

These two recognizing bodies has bestowed honors to food establishments in various categories – best or most favorite: buffet, Italian resto, Spanish resto, burger joint, coffee shop, steakhouse, Chinese resto, and a lot more.  But these recognizing bodies being based in the Philippines, I would personally consider their choice or their award for being the best and most favorite Filipino Restaurant would be the most prestigious.  It’s like bestowing the Best Picture award during the Oscars or the Golden Globes of Philippine dining scene!

Few people I guess knows that there is one Filipino restaurant (in the Philippines) which has received and has been awarded by both these recognizing bodies.  MBKRS in 2012 awarded it as the “Best Filipino Restaurant” while the first Choice Awards held this year (2015) chose it as the “Most Favorite Filipino Restaurant”.

That restaurant is Abe.

at the trinoma branch
at the trinoma branch
at the serendra branch
at the serendra branch

Award wining!