Piniritong Galunggong The Dashing Version

While I was growing up, there was one fish that has politically been used as a benchmark in terms of determining my country’s economic inflation rate  and the people’s purchasing power.  It was a Filipino staple that resulted to having the first female president in Asia and the Time Magazine’s Woman of the Year awardee.  It was the increasing price of this measly poor-man’s fish that was used to ignite in toppling a dark authoritarian regime that resulted to the triumph of a peaceful people power revolution.

This fish was the mundane and inglorious Galunggong (known in the US as the Round Scad Fish).  This fish is so cheap, so common and so trivial you will never see this served as part of the menu in any grand or special Filipino banquet feast.  Some Filipino folks would not even eat it because they consider it as the fish of the poor and the low-class.

But the sordid, meek and lowly fish seem to have an ally in revamping its unfortunate and underprivileged image.  It is the 35-year old Filipino restaurant called Bistro Remedios. 

I think Bistro Remedios is the only prime-quality restaurant in the metro that carries a Galunggong dish in the menu.  I have yet to know or encounter an equally ingenious restaurant of the same caliber that serves this variety of fish.

Bistro Remedios serves Galunggong and they simply call it Piniritong Galunggong.   I recently got an interest of trying one and it was one surprisingly beautiful dish that was served on my table.

I consider Piniritong Galunggong to be the chic and dashing version of this common fried fish.  It is actually a complete meal.  It is served with a special rice cooked in coconut milk and also comes with the savory-flavored Filipino shrimp paste mixed with crispy tiny anchovies. 

The presentation, the plating and the big portion definitely exceeded my expectations.  Those fresh sliced tomatoes and banana leaf bedding definitely added beautiful colors to what could have been a plain looking dish.  The sautéed shrimp paste with anchovies was packed with flavors while the special coconut milk rice was a real big surprise to the palate. 

that’s jorge, the manager
chic and dashing version

The Galunggong fish was definitely the highlight of this dish.  It was crisp, meaty and flavorful.  And for those who hate eating bony fish, Bistro Remedios’ kitchen painstakingly got rid of the fish bones!  The fish served were boneless!

Bistro Remedios (who was the inventor/creator of the now-very-famous Binukadkad Na Plapla which almost all Filipino restaurants seem to serve now) definitely did a great job on introducing and carrying Galunggong in their menu. 

Chomping on the fish seem to brought back childhood memories and of living simple and joyous lives in the past.  This dish was a definite glorious gastronomic experience!  And after having my last bite, I was already planning on when to order it again. 

inside the dining area of bistro remedios

     Bistro Remedios branches are

are at Adriatico St, Remedios Circle, Malate

and at the Grond Floor, The Block, SM North EDSA

Pinasosyal na isda…

Choosing a Bowl of Clam Chowder

My family is so nutty like a fruitcake!  It has been weeks that some members of my family were contemplating on revisiting and spending the weekend at Okada Manila, the iconic oceanfront integrated resort here in Manila.  We then decided to visit one Saturday.

And while everyone was fixing and getting ready to do the “pasyal” (translation: stroll) everyone were suggesting what to do and where to eat while inside plush and lavish Okada.  That is until I raised the idea of dropping the plan of going to Okada and we should instead go to S&R where unhealthy American food are available.  My nephew Luis reinforced my idea when he expressed that he is craving for some delicious Clam Chowder which Nengkoy also loved and never misses to order every time we dine there.

While we were in the car heading to sophisticated Okada, everybody then decided to do a detour.  We agreed to replace the long-ago-planned weekend destination, that is, from the grand and luxurious Okada Manila to the huddle-filled and unsophisticated food court of S&R membership-shopping store! 

yummy clam chowder and my greasy pizza!
nengkoy waiting for her creamy and savory clam chowder at the food court

I ended up enjoying the Clam Chowder, a big chunk of pizza and two pieces of crispy fried chicken! And since we are there, I decided to buy a tray of huge muffins and a big bag of toilet paper rolls.  While munching on the greasy pizza, I contemplated that my crazy family’s detour to S&R food court was in agreement to Leonardo Da Vinci’s notion that “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication

Krung krung kasi ang pamilya ko.  Dat’s why!

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!

Ensalada Esmeralda & the Caveman in Me

My friends and colleagues know that I am not a salad person. While dining in restaurants, I frequently tease and ridicule friends who prefer having salads than the specialty main courses. I would often tell them that maybe they may be a goat or a rabbit in their past life. Plus, salads for me are not an effective meal. It may be filling but only for a short period of time.

I usually don’t understand how some people eat only salad for lunch or dinner because in my case, after about an hour, I am craving for something to chew and swallow. But the good side for salad-eaters on how I perceive them is that they seem to be more civilized, more refined and more sophisticated.

They are so unlike me who is a meat lover! For me, meat lovers are the total opposite of the very urbane and cultured salad lovers. I and the rest of the meat lovers seem to be more savaged, ferocious and brutal. I prefer chunks of animal carcass may it be grilled, broiled, fried or roasted. Because of this, I have always thought that in my past life I am a barbaric cave dweller during the prehistoric times who loved hunting animals for food.

But there’s one kind of salad that seem to convert me. It’s the Ensalada Esmeralda of Café Adriatico! Picture this, a bed of fresh greens with slices of crunchy apples and luscious oranges, savory almond flakes and dried cranberries dripped with generous amount of raspberry-yogurt dressing topped with chia seeds! It’s raw and it’s meatless yet I L.O.V.E. it!

esmeralda

I can no longer count the times I had Ensalada Esmeralda as my lunch. It is unlike other salads that is filled with grated odorous cheese or smothered with unhealthy mayonnaise or with robust repulsive vinegar dressings. This salad is something unique for it is on the fruity and sweet side. Having a sweet-tooth myself, I particularly love the sweet tangy taste and fluid texture of the raspberry-yogurt dressing!

The refreshing Ensalada Esmeralda, makes me now think that sometime in my prehistoric past I was the first caveman who converted from being carnivorous to being a fruitarian! And at this modern present time, Ensalada Esmeralda seem to have erased the deep-seated savaged caveman in me!

yummyness…

Café Adriatico Premiere is located at
790 Adriatico Street in Malate Manila. 738-8220
(only cavemen or people living under a rock would not know this cafe!)


Represhing pramis!

Tastes of Asahikawa

One unusual thing that I and my colleagues did in our most recent trip to Japan is that we decided to stay in a minimally advertised destination in Hokkaido.  Instead of staying in a more popular Sapporo or Furano, we decided to stay for 2 nights in a remote place called Asahikawa. 

And since there are limited tourist spots to go to (aside from going to a mall and a zoo), I and my colleagues decided to explore Asahikawa through its food.  Our first destination was the ramen house our hotel has recommended, the Ichikura Raman. 

with the asahikawa gang just outside ichikura raman (edwin, malou, gie and dominic) 
surprisingly clear to the palate yet with a distinct flavor of a ramen

 Since Isahikawa seem to be popular with shoyu-based ramen (shoyu: Japanese soy sauce), I settled and ordered the Okhotsk Shoyu Ramen.  This ramen according to the menu is composed with unique Hokkaido ingredients like Namuro dried salmon flakes, Esashi dried herring and Rishiri kelp from Oumu.  I was really happy that Ichikura Raman was the ramen place our hotel has recommended.  And aside from their ramen, one surprising dish in this joint was their Gyoza.  It was one of the best gyozas that I have tasted!

A lot of people say that it would be a sin for a tourist in Hokkaido if he/she failed or refuse to try the Hokkaido ice cream.  This soft frozen dairy is one plain ice cream that is simply made of milk.  It has no fancy flavor, no fancy add-ons and no fancy flairs for an ice cream.  For me, its plainness makes Hokkaido ice cream remarkably exquisite and amazingly elegant. 

happy crew handing me my creamy ice cream 
savoring every moment of yummy-ness!

Then, one of the highlights of our Asahikawa stay was the dinner at Jingisukan Daikokuya.  This restaurant is the top rated local-cuisine restaurant in Asahikawa as per Tripadvisor.  It is so popular people would have to wait and queue outside before they be given a table.  Specialty of the house was Hokkaido’s grill icon called Genghis Khan (also termed Jingisukan).

Like their sophisticated ice cream, Jingisukan is a must try in Hokkaido.  It is a unique style of yakiniku in which mutton and lamb are grilled on a convex skillet shaped like an upside-down bowl.  Since the meat are grilled over charcoal, we were surprised to see and experience the amount of smoke inside the popular restaurant.  We nevertheless did not complain because the smoke actually added up to the character and atmosphere of the establishment. 

outside the resto, waiting for our turn

 

an asahikawa highlight

I personally prefer beef over lamb, but the marinated flavor and the stunning taste of the meat served to us gave me some second thought if I really do prefer beef over lamb. Genghis Khan was strikingly delicious!

Asahikawa may not be of the same level as that of Osaka, Tokyo or Sapporo where there are tons to see and marvel at.  Asahikawa nevertheless has loads of gustatory surprises that tourists can taste and talk about.

Para maiba naman!

Classic Pudding

My palatal experience and taste for the Classic Pudding has come a long way.  It progressed from being derisory to being lavish.  My lunch today with Nengkoy and a few of my relatives at Medley Buffet in first-class hotel Okada Manila made me realize this. 

Superb buffet here at Medley Buffet, Okada Manila

When my sister Joie took a heap of the Classic Pudding as her dessert, I told aloud that Nengkoy (my mother) at one occasion made a Classic Pudding when we were still very small.  Nengkoy upon hearing this smiled and nodded her head.  But what is so memorable with Nengkoy’s Classic Pudding I told Joie is that it was made from left over breads most especially from the staple of the Marcos regime’s feeding program in the ‘70s called Nutribun.

I can still recall that Nutibun given to us students in the 70’s were so big, so dense and were so filling.  It was so compact, that if you fail to consume it and let it stand for a day it will turn so hard, eating it would be next to impossible. I remember not eating those bulky Nutribuns and instead bring those home.  This kindled the parsimony and thriftiness in Nengkoy.  Instead of throwing away those rock hard Nutribuns, I remember she turned it into a hot delicious Classic Pudding. 

with niece bebang and nengkoy
nengkoy! enjoying her medley buffet experience
my bowl of classic pudding

After telling that story, I excused myself, went to the abundant and over-the-top buffet area of Medley Buffet. I also took a big bowl of their Classic Pudding for my dessert.  While enjoying my dessert and washed it down with champagne, I silently reminisced about the taste of the pudding Nengkoy prepared for us when we were still kids in the seventies.

Parang walang pinagkaiba anf pudding ng Okada at ng Nutribun. Yummy! Hahaha!

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!