160 San Rafel St. Mandaluyong City, just off Boni Ave.
Coming into the garage slash open air dining area, we see a funkified 60s era A-type house. Sitting down on our monobloc chairs, we glimpsed through the window grills a beige quilted and studded bar reminiscent of Tony Ferrer movies. Music blared from the blasted speakers. Natural air-conditioning is provided by the Mandaluyong atmosphere. It was shabby, not quite chic.
The place gave us the vibe of an usapang lasing inception:
- Pare, ang sarap ng crispy tenga ng lola mo.
- Yeah, dude, ibenta natin 'to.
- I know, let's put up a restaurant.
tinininnininin.... (time lapse sound effect)
a month and a trip to dti later, a restobar is born.
So based on aesthetics alone, the expectations have been lowered. The laminated menu showed a collection that liberally stretched the theme street food. It also contained a line that says, "Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last." Hmmm, cheesy. We were also skeptical that there was a chef manning the kitchen. Like I said, our expectations were low.
Turns out that our initial judgments were unfair. There really was a chef in the kitchen, if the quality of food is an indication. The winning dish was the salt and peppered crispy tenga, (PhP110) deep fried to perfection, crispy but not too much that it is dried and burned. And the mango salad that went with it was tangy and quite different from the usual salad.
We made sure we ordered the street food themed dishes. The quail egg tempura, (P70) fortunately, did not have that food coloring rich tukneneng orange shade. Of course, cholesterol-laden eggs are always good, but what made it better was the accompanying sauces - the sinamak vinegar and the soy mirin glaze.
Our main dish was the street style barbecue platter (P180), which combined various chicken parts like the ass, kidney, intestine (isaw), and blood (betamax). Though, I am not particularly averse to visceral meats, I wasn't expecting much from this dish. Again, I was wrong. Each item from the sampler was flavorful, owing again to the chef's expertise. Of course, I've always been a fan of chicken ass, but I was afraid I wouldn't like the betamax and the kidney. The kidney actually tasted like liver, only tougher. And the betamax also tasted like kidney, only softer. The peanut sauce was the twist that made the platter a good order.
Considering that we were famished when we got there (it was friday and we had tried unsuccessfully getting into a couple of restos without reservations before moving to lime.) and that we did not have rice, we got pretty stuffed and had to bring home a doggy bag. Even though we were stuffed, we still asked about dessert but they did not have the scramble we wanted. A sign that we had to stop eating because we've had our fill. A pretty good fill. Next time we come back, they better have the scramble.