Fine-dining quality comfort food at affordable pricesBy Carmencita S. Sioson
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Stressful days usually call for some heavy chowtime or what my friends and I like to call consuelo de bobo. Instead of settling for the usual greasy fast food after a back-aching, mind-numbing day, a satisfying meal always sounds good; one that doesn’t entail the use of our credit cards sounds even better.
KXP (Kulinarya Experience) redefines fast casual dining in Metro Manila with its unpretentious menu selection of quality dishes at affordable prices.
“We just want to serve fine-dining quality comfort food that’s reasonably priced,” says president and CEO Carlo Mesina, one of the brains behind KXP, pioneer restaurant Kulinarya Kitchen and mother company Kulinarya Global.
The other progenitor and creative mind behind the brand is chef Patricia Mesina.
KXP, under Kulinarya Global which has been around for 13 years, first opened its doors in 2008 at the Midtown Wing of Robinsons Place Manila. Today, families, young professionals, and even students flock to the restaurant, which features an open kitchen for customers to see their food being prepared and cooked fresh.
“You deserve to have good food so the quality of food at KXP is the same as Kulinarya Kitchen but it’s more affordable since we don’t include service charge and the average price range is P200,” notes Patricia, who trained under the likes of chefs Gene Gonzalez and Jill Sandique.
She adds, “The dishes I’ve created are those I grew up with. Basically, they’re anchored on what you already know with some changes that I’ve made to make them innovative.”
KXP’s scrumptious seafood salad maki (of which I ordered seconds) is proof of Patricia’s knack for reinventing popular dishes.
A mix of bold but complementary flavors from Japanese and Chinese cuisines, the crabstick and seafood salad is wrapped in a crunchy breaded and deep-fried nori, creating a delightful play on textures. Topped with ebiko and mango coulis and drizzled with wasabi vinaigrette and soy-balsamic reduction, the dish gives you a familiar yet refreshing taste of the usual maki.
“We try to be innovative as much as we can and yet retain that quality comfort food people have come to love,” enthuses Patricia.
Another signature dish is KXP’s tender US Angus roast beef that takes five hours of slow cooking, and is coated with Kulinarya’s signature red wine sauce made from scratch.
“We use the basic French technique of making the sauce, which is to reduce the wine and basic beef stock until it’s at a minimum to make it potent and then mix it with herbs,” explains Patricia. “But I add two to three ingredients that make it different.”
KXP’s take on Beef Salpicao is the usual beef cubes sautéed in garlic but is again, doused with their “special sauce”.
The best part is that their succulent dishes are served within 10 minutes.
“It’s this quality but we wanted to bring it to those who can only afford a certain price range and are always on the go,” notes Carlo.
For those who are perpetually in a hurry but want to unwind, KXP also offers imported beer and canned wine.
“We also have more items to choose from so diners don’t get tired of having the same dish over and over again,” he adds.
Adhering to one of their principles of catering to everyone without scrimping on quality, KXP also offers rice meals in substantial portions.
One of their bestsellers includes a creamy Shrimp Thermidor baked rice dish that simply melts in your mouth.
“Filipinos look for something new but always go back to something they’re familiar with,” says Patricia.
For your quick fix of comfort food, staples like sliders (with sauces you can mix and match), chicken, and pizzas are also served at KXP.
Chicken lollipops are coated in the restaurant’s special batter and deep-fried until they’re crispy, and then tossed in an Asian buffalo-style sauce.
To end a good meal, dessert is always at the top of our list. KXP offers a wide range of sweet treats: from chocolate or caramel sundaes to specialty cakes and buko-pandan panna cotta, a definite must-try (take it from one who never liked coconut but devoured three servings).
“The restaurant scene is really exciting now. It only challenges us to come up with something better and different,” notes Carlo.
He adds, “We want to serve something to lift your spirits, especially after a hard day’s work.”