Much-praised foodie find in San Fernando, Pampanga
More and more homes are being opened for private dinners by foodie groups. I don’t exactly know who started this trend, but it has caught fire.
Perhaps it was this home somewhere in the Veterans area in Quezon City, which serves only sinigang na ulo-ulo. The whole house is open for lunch, and dining can be done anywhere—dining room, sala, garage, bedrooms.
Pio’s Kitchen in the Scout area, also in QC, is also doing this, so does Claude Tayag at his home in Angeles, Pampanga, and another place I’ve heard of somewhere in Quezon province.
Doing something similar with our Au Bon Vivant bestsellers has crossed my mind, well, maybe one day…
There’s one place called Denlim in San Fernando, Pampanga, which has been earning raves from everyone I’ve spoken to. We tried to call for reservation to feature it in our “Foodprints” coverage in Pampanga, but was told the place was fully booked.
Denlim is short for Dennis Lim, its culinary whiz. Bess Howe of Holiday Inn Makati recently featured Dennis as guest chef, and I saw it as my chance to experience his cooking. (My foodie sister-in-law Charina Mendoza also raves about him.)
We started with a simple bangus paté. This was boneless, flaked bangus with good-quality extra virgin olive oil—simple yet delicious.
Then came his melt-in-your-mouth callos with its sticky, reddish flavorful sauce. Very good! A lot of places offer callos on their menu, but only a handful can truly pull it off. Dennis is one of the few.
An Oriental Cashew salad followed, then Pasta Corrito—both interesting, but I was looking forward to what Dennis had for mains.
When the next dish came, I smiled to myself because this one was not in the books, so to speak. It was a humongous beef shank which Dennis calls Caveman’s Shank.
It was a super-tender, gigantic cut of beef shank complete with the bone, with a full amount of bulalo and gravy on the side. The looks matched the taste—yummy!
Then there was Crab Marlen, named after Dennis’ charming wife. The crabs were fresh and fat and had an outstanding sauce. I was shamelessly using my hands at this semiformal gathering. It was that good.
The last dish, Pugon Liempo Wrap, was super-crispy pork belly with tender lean pork that you wrapped in mustasa leaf, topped with the pork belly, garnished with buro made of pork instead of your usual shrimp or fish. Biting into it was heavenly.
Dessert was Holiday Inn’s famous ube cheesecake.
I owe Bess for this lunch. If not for her, I would still be imagining Denlim’s food. This is one private dining I would encourage everyone to try, so you can experience the creative hands of Dennis Lim.
Denlim, Maharlika St.,
San Fernando, Pampanga;
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