Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Spices: Simple Lang

A few months back, together with Chris Urbano of Maputing Cooking decided to do some catching up, this time around we landed in Simple Lang, a Filipino restaurant that's supposed to have a a modern twist on familiar local dishes. We again each brought our own bottles of wine, luckily for us the manager of the resto was kind enough to waive off the corkage fee.

Simple Lang

It was a cold rainy evening and the complimentary hot tinola based soup was pretty comforting. When dining here, you can have as much soup and rice as you want. To start, we had the Crispy "Broken" Ukoy. I enjoyed the crunchiness of the ukoy but was disappointed with how it tasted. It didn't have much shrimp in it thus the lack of flavor.

Crispy 'Broken' Ukoy - Php75

The Crispy Black Pepper Squid tasted pretty good. It was crunchy, had hints of black pepper and the squid was tender and juicy. The squid paired well with the fruity St. Hallet's Poacher's Blend. Since the restaurant didn't serve any wine, it was kind of funny that we were using halo-halo glasses to drink wine.

Crispy Black Pepper Squid - Php220

Drinking wine from Halo-Halo Glasses while Munching on Fried Squid

The Longaniza Tortang Talong "Pancake" tasted how its supposed to be. I would have wanted more longanisa bits on the pancake but overall I enjoyed the flavor combination of the meat, eggplant, onion, tomatoes and salted egg.

Longaniza Tortang Talong "Pancake" - Php150

The dish I was looking forward to is the Crispy Palabok. I got excited when the server place a plate of fried puffed noodles with bagnet, shrimps, tinapa bits and hard boiled egg. The server proceeded to put ladle fulls of achuete sauce on top, this got me starting to salivate, it reminded me of the crispy pancit canton in Chinese restaurants.

Putting the Sauce On

Crispy Palabok - Php265

But then the server got a spoon and started to squish everything. By doing this, the noodles lost its crispiness and it looked really bad, the dish was massacred. Flavor wise it was good though. In the future, I hope they just leave it as is and let the noodles soak in the achuete sauce.

After all the anticipation, it looked like this...what a let down!

The Seafood was Kare-kare was cooked really well. The peanut sauce was savory and thick while the fish, prawns, squid and shellfish was nice and tender. The house made bagoong that came with the kare-kare was slightly sweet just the way I like it.

Seafood Kare-Kare - Php375

The Inihaw na Liempo was a big let down. Though the grilled pork was tender, it was cut into small pieces, too small to enjoy. Flavor wise, it was too sweet and it was missing the smokey flavor that I want.

Inihaw na Liempo - Php175

Chris brought one of his wine he sells on his website, a bottle of Piccini 2012 Sangiovese from King Valley Australia. From all the dishes we ate the Crispy 'Chop Chop' Pork Bell Dinakdanakan paired pretty well with the wine. I liked how the pork's skin had a nice crunch and the pork was marinated well. It had the right amount of sweet and saltiness and the mayonnaise added the creamy texture and sour flavor.

Crispy 'Chop Chop' Pork Bell Dinakdanakan - Php195

For dessert, we had two cakes, The Choc Nut Cake and The Ube Cake. Nothing much to rave about, something I think you can skip.

Choc Nut Cake 

Ube Cake

After eating all the Filipino dishes, I was surprised to see that they serve Illly, one of my favorite brands of coffee.

Illy Coffe - Php99

From the dishes we tried, I didn't see or taste much of the modern twist on classic Filipino dishes. The whole meal wasn't bad, it was ok but if you're expecting something new and different, don't. The name of the resto basically epitomize the food that they serve, Simple Lang.

Simple Lang
Address: Ayala Triangle Gardens, Ayala Avenue, Makati City
Tel No: 621- 6162

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Spices: Cantina Sicilianita

Being the only restaurant in a row of business enterprises, I didn't have any expectations of this place. I thought this would just be another run of the mill restaurant. I practically pass by here everyday as it is located in Shaw Blvd, Manadaluyong. And it was not until I read something about this place that we decided to give it a try.

Cantina Sicilianita

Restaurant was relatively small, seats around 20 people. Looking at the menu, all of the dishes they serve were Italian and it was such a joy to see that they serve wine. We got a bottle of wine from Sicily, a Nero D Avola that was made by Cellaro. It was my first time to taste this wine variety. Smell was slightly fruity and flavor was slightly dry with soft to medium tannins.

What I found amazing is that for a small restaurant, the wines are in a separate refrigerator. The red was brought out chilled to the perfect temperature and prices were so cheap. It's a sign that the owner is a serious wine drinker and lover.

Cellaro Nero D' Avola - Php650

We got to try two of the pasta dishes, the first of which is the Gamberetti Fra Diavolo. The Linguine was cooked to al dente perfection, shrimps were plump and juicy and the sauce was simple and flavorful. The pasta dish was so easy to eat that it made us take one forkful after another.

Gamberetti Fra Diavolo - Php210

I was a bit skeptical in ordering the Black Truffle Pasta because of my previous experiences of having this in other restaurants. It is a known fact that restos would use synthetic truffle oil but most of the time the truffle pasta dishes wouldn't even have a hint of the aromatic oil. When the Black Truffle Pasta was served, the scent of the aromatic oil was evident and again every little component of the dish was cooked perfectly. What's more admirable is this dish was honest cause written on the menu was the words '...mushrooms marinated in black truffle infused virgin olive oil.'

Black Truffle Pasta - Php240

The last main we tried was the Crusted Fish with Mushroom Risotto. Really simple dish cooked well. The crusted dory was lightly coated and it had a pretty nice crunch. I would have like my risotto a little bit creamier but flavor wise it was spot on. Not the best risotto but it was way way better and affordable than the other ones I tried around the metro.

Crusted Fish with Mushroom Risotto - Php300

I read about people raving about Cantina's Cannolli and we were so lucky that we got the very last piece of the day. The server told us that usually the chef would just make a single batch for each day. We had the Dolci Combo which includes a cup of Cafe Americano and a Cannoli. The coffee they used was locally grown Arabica beans from Benguet, one of my favorite local coffee bean region. . The cannolli was love at first bite, the Italian pastry dessert was to die for. The pastry dough was thick and baked to a perfect crisp and the cream cheese filling had the right balance of sweetness and sourness, it even had pistachio bits in it.

Dolci Combo

While finishing up our cup of coffee, we had a really nice conversation with owner and chef, Mark Buhain. I told him that I really enjoyed the meal, ingredients were of great quality and prices were so affordable. The whole experience was like eating a delicious and lovely home cooked meal. It wasn't anything fancy, really simple, honest to goodness food.

Cantina Sicilianita
Address: 548 Facilities Center Shaw Boulevard, Mandaluyong City
Tel. No.: 570 2905
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