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THE QUIET DINER

Good old-fashioned cooking in Taguig

A restaurant with old-world charm and ambiance, which serves food reminiscent of heritage Filipino cuisine, is tucked away in a gated village in Taguig City.

Chef Tatung

Molave Lane, Acacia Estates, Barangay Ususan, Taguig City; tel. 6617703, 4665390

Chef Myke Sarthou is nicknamed Tatung, thus the name of the resto. He has no formal culinary training; he said he learned how to cook in the kitchens of his grandmother and mother in Cebu.

That he has mastered traditional Filipino food is a credit to his keen sense of taste. He said he is careful with the “twists” and would rather stick to the essence of Filipino food, using endemic ingredients.

Dining area—One walks into the one-level structure with a garden and landscaped area. Diners are led to vintage chairs and tables of hardwood, from the chef’s collection of antiques.  The garden setting gives  an out-of-town feeling even if the place is only a few minutes away from the city. There is ample space for movement.

Service—The extensive menu is handed, water is served, and the wait staff stands by to take the orders. The kitchen is efficient, dishes come in quick succession.

Staff—The serving staff was small, but guests were served with haste.

Suggested orders—Heirloom dishes and straightforward Filipino cuisine are served using local ingredients and techniques. They are plated differently and creatively.

Chicken Sisig of minced grilled chicken meat with onion and green chili is topped with taro chips instead of chicharon for added crunch. This rests on lettuce leaves laced with mango sauce.

The Okoy is what our grandmothers fed us: done in light batter, with  shrimps and vegetables deep-fried with a vinegar-and-garlic dip.

The Mongo soup is a throwback to olden times, but cooked in coconut milk topped with smoked fish and ampalaya leaves.

A main vegetable dish that has gained much approval is the Pinakbet, truly a 10-pointer with crispy hito in piquant tomato and bagoong sauce.

Dried kamias gives the Grilled Baby Bangus a new taste that blends perfectly with the tomatoes, onions and ginger provided with calamansi-butter sauce.

Meat lovers will fancy the Slow Roasted Pork Belly, which is placed on a bed of garlic and lemongrass and cooked in a brick oven for six hours. It is glazed with honey before serving.

There are more dishes to merit repeat visits, such as the Adobo Lengua.

Traditional dessert is Suman with Sweet Mango.

Service and government charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating

- 3 Spoons

Modern Shanghai

Glorietta, Makati City; tel.  0917-8084114

This is part of a chain with branches spread out in the big city. The restaurant has a running video of life in Old China. When we visited the place, “The Last Emperor” was showing.

Dining area—Modern, not traditional, Chinese, in décor. Comfortable chairs and tables. The place is quiet compared to similar restaurants.

Service—Quick, especially with the dim sum selection.

Staff—Unobtrusive but alert.  But unsmiling.

Suggested orders—One can’t go wrong with dim sum  baskets of Pork Siomai, steamed Hakaw (shrimps) and other dumplings, all served steaming hot.

It has new starters—the Marinated Pork Knuckles and the Signature Braised Lucky Pork Noodles made more savory with sweetened Ham served with Sesame Buns.

The place has a table banner that illustrates how one must eat the very popular Xiao Long Bao, the soupy dim sum served on a Chinese soup spoon, without spilling the broth all over one’s body.

Service and government charges are added to the bill. Senior cards are honored.

Rating

- 2 Spoons


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