Spam and egg, Belgian chocolate ‘champorado,’ ‘gambas’ with ‘longganisa’–comfort food elevated
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:30 AM September 10, 2015
Juicy, gooey and filling, the breakfast chori burger is longganisa with burger patty and grilled tomato cushioned by kesong puti. Instead of the usual ketchup, its sauce is what’s typically found in Pinoy spaghetti.
As in most sandwiches, the burger comes with finely sliced, homemade chips with secret spices that make them unique to Unit 27 Apartment Bar + Café.
The combination of saltiness, sweetness, creaminess and a little grease appeals to the Filipino palate. Unit 27’s chori burger is not just gratifying, it also evokes happy memories of home cooking.
“It’s been my advocacy to elevate Filipino cuisine, and mix it with Western or other ingredients,” says executive chef Francis Tolentino.
“Filipino dishes remind me of my lola and her cooking,” he adds. “When I came back from Johnson & Wales University Florida (Food Management, major in Culinary Arts), I decided to do Filipino cuisine with Western presentation.”
More than just resplendent versions of familiar recipes, the dishes at Unit 27 Apartment Bar + Café complement convivial conversations, with the menu revolving around “comfort food.”
In a bid to be a major dining destination in BGC, Unit 27 has been luring diners with its brunch specials as all-day options.
“If you’re a breakfast lover, you can eat eggs at night,” says Tolentino.
For Spam fans, there’s Spam and Egg, a favorite precooked ham from the can. The meat is encrusted with cornflakes instead of bread crumbs and made to lie on a bed of pesto rice, egg and mesclun greens.
Tolentino’s take on the sinangag or fried rice is the infusion of pesto sauce, normally used for pasta. The pesto rice is unique to Unit 27—until others copy it, of course.
Another take on Spam is Bacon Bomb, ham wrapped in bacon and laced with cinnamon cream. “It’s an explosion of flavors, from the citrus-y to the sweet-salty of Spam and the crunch of the bacon. Perfect for beers,” says Tolentino.
The champorado is a richer version of brown rice with Belgian chocolate, stylishly plated with danggit, evaporated milk, Chocnut and a hefty pan de sal filled with tuyo soaked in olive oil and lemon.
The Bagnet Breakfast is pork belly that has been air-dried, boiled and roasted upon serving, blossoming with flavors of laurel, peppercorn and lemongrass. The meal is completed with a traditional mix of garlic rice, salted egg and pako.
The longganisa with egg is a trio of cured native sausages from Ilocos and Cagayan, served with Unit 27’s homemade sukang pinakurat, a vinegar made of fermented coco sap and red chillies.
Night crawlers can enjoy a dish for the woozy morning after. The Anti-Hangover Bacon and Eggs Rösti draws inspiration from the Swiss national dish of golden, grated potato cakes. Crisp on the outside and meltingly soft inside, rösti layers are topped with crème fraîche and served with bacon and egg, and grilled tomato pesto.
“When you’re drunk, you’re dehydrated. The saltiness of this dish will hydrate you,” explains Tolentino.
The omelette is the star of the menu, he points out. “We created the Skinny Veggie for people who are into healthy eating. It’s made of egg white only, with bell pepper, zucchini, onions, tomatoes and carrots and malunggay pesto.”
The other omelette options are folded with shrimp, chicken breast with beef and truffled ham with mushrooms.
There are pillowy pancakes and waffles stacked with peanut-butter chips, and bananas or cinnamon cream with apple peach compote and whipped cream. Another version comes with salted caramel and bacon that’s thicker and smoked twice longer than usual.
Then there are the Angus steak (it can be cooked tapa-style), classic roast chicken, Norwegian salmon, US Angus rib, and the restaurant’s signature burger made with pure Angus beef and bacon and homemade pastas.
Not to be outdone in richness, the bar chow is a perfect complement to the cocktail list. Tolentino adds local flavor to the salpicao, cubed beef tenderloin, with adobo seasoning. “It doesn’t look like adobo, but the garlic, soy sauce, lemon and vinegar remind you of it,” says the chef.
The gambas or shrimps are mixed with longganisa from Lucban, Quezon.
With all these diet busters, the chef delivers the coup de grâce with a lone dessert called the Three-way Turon. The first glass contains fritters filled with banana melted with Chocnut, leche flan and mango compote with Emmental cheese. These are then dipped in another glass of vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce, with Belgian chocolate-coated polvoron as the final blow. Marge C. Enriquez, contributor