Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chef Edward Bugia Unveils New Dishes at Pino Resto Bar

When in the Philippines, one must eat Filipino food!

I love how Filipino cuisine can taste so different yet be so familiar at the same time. It's not quite Spanish. American, or Malay, but the best of all cuisines, I must say. And when it comes to Filipino restaurants, only a handful of places in Metro Manila really do it for me: Sentro, Abe, and Pino Resto Bar.

Chef Ed Bugia takes simple Pinoy favorites and puts his own spin on them, giving them a lot more flavor, or borrowing the recipe from his mother or grandmother, giving the dishes a nostalgic feel of how one should prepare any sort of food - with a lot of pride and a lot of love.

I headed out to Pino's branch in Makati to meet up with friends and to try out Pino's newest dishes. I'm so glad they decided to expand, as schlepping out to Quezon city for some Pino and Pipino can be quite cumbersome, especially with the Christmas traffic. Located along the Jupiter strip, this place isn't too hard to find. But parking can be a bitch.

Dinner started with Isol Popcorn (P245) - a Filipino street favorite of crispy fried chicken ass tossed in a soy-miso-inasal glaze. Think chicken teriyaki with a Pinoy twist, as this was exactly what it is! This can be a bit bony if you don't know how to eat it right.

The Bagnet Spring Rolls (P235) are stuffed with Chinese chorizo, salted eggs, vermicelli noodles, and diced bagnet, with the rolls being fried and served with a calamansi vinaigrette. This dish was way too salty for me, even with the sour vinaigrette, and I couldn't taste the crunchy pork as it was overpowered with the combination of salty chorizo and salted egg.

The Nilasing na Tahong (P275) - the Pino version of moules marinière - was a hit at the table, with the spicy mussels cooked in San Miguel beer and lime soda. After dousing everything with lemon juice, we proceeded to break open each clam up one-by-one, scooping out the meat and using the shell to ladle out the spicy broth.

The Steamed Lapu-Lapu (P495) is Chef Ed's take on everyone's childhood favorite - Maya Maya Mayonasa. A whole Grouper fish steamed in lemongrass and leeks, and topped with pineapple aioli, salted egg, bell pepper, pickle relish, cheddar cheese, scallions, and garlic chips. I have to admit, I was apprehensive of whether or not the combination of toppings on the Lapu-Lapu would work, but it did! You've got your salty, sweet, cheesy, and garlicky all in one mouthful, provided that you get a bit of everything and mix it up.

My favorite that night was the Bagnet Bicol Express (P245). Winged beans are cooked in coconut milk and alamang with a few diced chilies in the mix and topped with generous slices of bagnet. This stuff is spicy! Not the type of spice to get you running for a carton of milk spicy, but just enough to give you the sweats.

I was pretty stuffed by the time I got around to the Pino Pochero (P385) and took a small bite. The recipe comes from Chef Ed's grandmother and the tender beef and pork stew comes with crushed tomatoes, saba, kamote, and Chinese chorizo. This isn't as sweet as most, and because there are still bits of actual tomatoes in the stew, the flavor really comes out.

At this point, I was way too full to try the Bagnet Ribs Lechon Paksiw (P245). These fried pork ribs are stewed in vinagered liver sauce and chicken liver, making the meat really soft and giving it a nice, thick sauce.

When mucking around Makati or Quezon City and looking to try some good ol' Pinoy fare done right, go and seek out Pino Resto Bar! If you're looking for a vegetarian option that's just as delicious, Pipino is right next to it, and you can order off of their menu, too!

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Pino Resto Bar
+63 2 441 1773
38 Jupiter Street,
Bel-Air, Makati City
Open Daily: 11am - 12mn