Meat is not exactly included in my daily diet—Not because I don’t like it, but mainly because I try to eat healthy.
Oh, how I love a good steak with mashed potatoes, a tender sticky chunk of pork belly, ribs with steamed rice, or a melt-in-your-mouth lamb shank with flavored couscous. But, as much as I can, I try to stay away from these, until I am no longer able to resist. Then I pull out one of my many excuses to indulge.
In my trip to Memphis, Tennessee, a few months ago, I was floored at the level and quality of the pork ribs and good old American Southern cooking. Since it was my first to this place, I convinced myself that all diets were off. So I got to experience the most amazing and delicious fall-off-the-bone wet and dry ribs, with various versions of sauces, plus a mildly spicy and crunchy good old fried chicken. These two were always served with two sidings: coleslaw and baked beans.
Locally, one of the restaurants I’ve quite overlooked these past years is Racks. I remember that when it first opened, I went every week to its Pasay Road branch in Makati.
My family loved the old-fashioned Southern ribs plus all those sidings. I wasn’t too crazy about the chicken, but the ribs were to-die-for. That’s one place I have to visit again soon.
One of my exercise buddies, La Salle diehard, food lover and badminton addict Ricky Alberto, recently told me that just outside Valle Verde Country Club where we play is a ribs place that serves a whole pork rib for a little over P300.
So last week, I picked up my son Arturo at Ultra after his four-hour track and field practice. Not only was he very tired, he was ready to eat anything. We headed for the ribs place, called Smokeout—a real hole in the wall, with no aircon and a few tables. But the place is breezy, being on top of a hill.
It specializes in Pork Baby Back Ribs. We ordered Barbecue Chicken, Baby Back Ribs and Beef Ribs. Everything was precooked and tender; the only cooking done was reheating over charcoal and brushing the meat with the sauce.
The meat of the pork was very tender, exactly how Ricky described it. The baby back ribs were served with coleslaw. The surprise to me were the beef ribs, which I loved. I was told the pork ribs are smoked for hours until tender, but the beef ribs are smoked a lot longer.
However, the coleslaw needs more work, and the sauce lacks sharpness and bite. But overall, the pork and beef ribs alone are worth a visit.
I love places like these. To me, these are the real finds.
Smokeout is at 326 Capt. Henry Javier St., Oranbo, Pasig City. Tel. 9254816.
Over lunch at Bistro Filipino of chef Roland Laudico and his wife, pastry chef Jackie, I was very impressed at how our local cuisine has been elevated to fine dining. I recommend chef Roland’s sisig basket. His palabok is also to-die-for. Not only does he use the healthy noodles made by Fanny Guanzon, the whole dish is full of recado, with a rich, delicious sauce made of crab roe. Sarap!
The Kitayama Bistek was also exceptional. For dessert, chef Jackie offered a pan de sal pudding, which I loved. I then asked if she makes lava cake. She left and came back with the best-tasting molten chocolate cake I have ever come across. A must!
Bistro Filipino is at G/F Net2 Bldg., 3rd Ave., Global City, The Fort. Tels. 8560634/ 0917-8002433.
Correction: For me, the place that serves and sells the reigning best chocolate cake in Manila today is Dolcelatte (not Chocolatte as I erroneously mentioned). It is along Quezon Boulevard. If you’re coming from Quiapo to Edsa, it will be on your right, just before Hi-Top Supermart. The Valhrona Chocolate Cake is super! Tel. 0915-9129038.