It’s easy to see why people keep coming back to dine at Sandy Daza’s new restaurant, Casa Daza.
In the Daza family, it’s said that Sandy—my Inquirer colleague—inherited the culinary prowess of his mother, the grand dame of cooking, Nora Daza.
As I was savoring the dishes and seeing Sandy walk to and from the kitchen, I realized that there was no separating the man from his food.
Sandy is his food and his food is Sandy: simple yet never flat; honest, warm, comforting yet exciting, with many facets.
The Casa Daza team has mastered the real art of home cooking. As soon as you enter, you’re greeted by the aroma and scents reminiscent of many a mother’s kitchen.
The day I visited, the restaurant was packed with a diverse group of diners. And, like me, they went there to eat heartily.
I’m a fan of food that doesn’t need much explanation. I like dishes that are familiar, with a dash of panache.
Which is why I’m crazy over Casa Daza’s Cauliflower Rice, as well as the Three-Egg Salad that’s an achara of sorts. It makes more delicious everything you eat with it.
I also had Bicol Express, Crispy Buntot ng Tuna, Ukoy, Crispy Shrimp Pampango with Aligue Dip.
The flavors and textures burst at the same time—sweet, salty, spicy, crunchy, a bit of coconut milk here, a little ensalada there, a hint of soy sauce from the tuna. This fiesta in my mouth left me oh-so-pleased.
Some might say I love my own. But what’s there not to love? Sandy’s food is spot on!
He shared his Burong Pajo recipe for that sweet and salty experience:
Two bundles pajo mini green mango, approximately ½ k
3 tbsp rock salt
2 c sugar
2 c water
Slice in half and remove seeds. Add rock salt and mix. Cover and let sit overnight.
Wash off salt the next day.
Boil two cups water and two cups sugar.
Pour over salted pajo. Let sit a few days before consuming.
(Thank you, Joseph Tiu, for treating me to such a good meal at Casa Daza.)
After dining, and to beat the summer heat, we proceeded to Yelo Yelo, a Filipino-inspired dessert café.
On the menu are many forms of beloved Filipino desserts in shaved ice. They are the Pinoy equivalent of the famous Korean patbingsu.
Instagram-worthy, Yelo Yelo’s desserts were created for the younger set.
The owner, 25-year-old Milka Romero, said Yelo Yelo was conceptualized for my generation.
“I noticed a lack of accessible Filipino desserts, while many foreign dessert places were opening—the ones that serve milk tea, bingsu, soft-serve yogurt,” she said.
Romero said she wanted to highlight Filipino desserts by making it familiar, relevant and appealing. Her creations were also meant to showcase an updated take on Filipino desserts to foreigners.
Taking inspiration from the halo-halo and merging it with other traditional Filipino desserts, Romero said she believed she had created a fun, local brand for everyone to enjoy.
My personal Yelo Yelo favorites are Mangga’t Suman, Maja Blanca and Say Keso. Of course, I added more sugar.
The combination of finely shaved ice with sweetened evaporated milk, especially on a hot summer day, always brings back happy memories!
Casa Daza and Yelo Yelo are at UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, QC.
For my cooking class schedule that includes Filipino lechon and “K-Drama Cuisine,” contact 09175543700.