Friday, January 10, 2014

Brunch at Kanto Freestyle Breakfast

People who know me understand my fascination for breakfast food. There's just something about the first meal of the day that makes it comforting and familiar. Whether it be cornflakes that you've been having since you were a wee babe, fluffy pancakes or stacks of waffles, or the all too familiar tapa with garlic rice and a fried egg with a hot cup of kapeng barako, there is always a certain joy one experiences when digging into breakfast.

When I first heard of Kanto Freestyle Breakfast, the concept of a tapsihan that serves breakfast dishes that look like they belong at Pancake House or IHOP, it got me curious, so off I went with Jericho, getting lost in Mandaluyong in the process, looking for the place that served breakfast fare for less that P100.

We finally found Freestyle Kanto Breakfast after a few rounds around the neighboring block. I was expecting it to be one of those jolly jeep-type establishments that looked more like a stall, but it was actually teeny-tiny a store with a teeny-tiny kitchen behind it that led out to what I think is a family compound. Dishes, pots, pans, and glasses are all washed on the makeshift sink at the side of the tapsihan, and the first thing that attacked my senses was the smell of stale canal water.

The smell stays with you, just hanging out like an unwanted acquaintance you just can't seem to get rid of. I wish they'd do something about it, as it doesn't lend for the most enjoyable eating experience, no matter how pretty and affordable their food is and put me off my lunch.

I was curious to see how they'd execute a continental dish like the Eggs Benedict (P90), so I ordered that. I didn't think it would come with open-faced English muffins, but I hoped it would come with some sort of ham at least. I was right about the muffins and wrong about the ham. My P90 got me poached eggs with a very thick hollandaise on top of two pieces of hash browns as well as boiled tomatoes with a sort of oily pesto on top. It was a pretty good deal for what I shelled out, although not quite an Eggs Benny.

The poached eggs could've done with some salt and pepper, and the combination of the fried hash browns and thick sauce became too cloying after a few bites. The tomato pesto helped me along a little bit, but that tasted even more bland than the eggs.

Since my Eggs Benny was devoid of any kind of meat, I asked the girl at the counter what she recommend I pair my eggs and hash browns with, and she suggested the Vigan Longaniza (P60). An order resulted in four small pieces that were not at all Vigan in origin - i.e. small, fatty, and round - but looked like small dry breakfast sausages instead. No amount of vinegar could ever help this along. I sadly gave up on my longanisas after two bites.

Jericho fared a lot better with his order of Kanto Boy Breakfast's Batangas Beef Tapa (P90). The beef was chewy but well marinated, so he was happy, and it is served with two eggs done your way, garlic rice, and tomato pesto.

To make up for my bland not-really-Eggs-Benny, I split and order of Mixed Berry Berry Pancakes (P90) with Jerik. Three dense pancakes were topped with strawberries and blueberries with hefty swigs of strawberry and maple syrup and a fat chunk of melted butter on top. Albeit too sweet, I liked how the pancakes weren't at all light and fluffy, but deliciously thick and compact. Not the ideal pancake, I know, but it was something different that worked - and I like different that works.

While at the tapsihan, we had around three dogs from the compound come by to check us out as well as two cats that came out to lounge around while we polished off the rest of our pancakes. This fat white one decided to just take a nap underneath my chair, completely oblivious to the fact that I may have ended up stepping on her if I wasn't careful.

When mucking around Mandaluyong and looking for an interesting breakfast place to experience (and you don't really mind the ambiance), Kanto Freestyle Breakfast is one for the books. Soak in the all the sights and smells before digging into your meal, and don't forget to make friends with the sleepy cat.

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Kanto Freestyle Breakfast
+63 2 400 2268
549 San Joaquin St.
Brgy. Plainview, Mandaluyong
Open Daily: 9am - 10pm