Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rekados (April 6, 2008)

Two reviewers: ts and js

"bagoong rice"

Rekados is part of our family's restaurant repertoire, but we haven't mentioned it nor reviewed it before. Now is the time.

I noticed that they've put up a website recently (with a new design and more information) and that they're revised their menu slightly. We decided we should go visit again.

(JS and I have been craving and thinking and dreaming about their "warm toffee cake" as well, but more on that later.)

It seems like we always mention Rekados in passing to others, especially when talking about restaurants. For my money, this is the only Filipino restaurant that I will visit on a regular basis.

I don't like to say this, but some of the Filipino restaurants I've been to always rely on "shortcuts," which really, really irks me. "Shortcuts," when it comes to food, offend me on a profound level.

We've been to Goldilocks and they have everything pre-made and pre-measured so they can just microwave the food when you order. Blech. We've been to Sandy Daza's, which leans towards more turo-turo (point-point), steam-table style of cuisine -- which I do not really go for. I always feel that the food has been sitting there for a long, long time, because it tasted like that. We've been to Pinpin's and I thought I tasted a noodle mix (like instant noodle) for their pancit canton.

Rekados is the only Filipino restaurant that I know of where one can go, sit down, and actually get food to order. Unlike other Filipino restaurants, the cooking is also more refined, the flavours cleaner and brighter, the presentation more polished. I commend Chef Charlie Dizon for his vision, pushing Filipino food forward into the future, and I really am excited to see where it might go from here.

We ordered some "starters" first while waiting for the rest of the party to arrive. Although, there is no such thing. Everything is eaten together.

(I must say, I really like how the pictures turned out. It must be the NATURAL LIGHT(!). Although, it was already getting dark. The desserts suffered under nighttime and dim lighting.)

sweet kamote fries: $ 5.25
sweet potato fries, spiced annatto-calamansi mayo

I love sweet kamote fries. These were fried just right. Not greasy at all.

I didn't used to like kamote (sweet potato) that much. But, I remember starting to eat these here a while back, and they really started to grow on me. So, I guess the credit goes to Rekados for converting me to a kamote-eater?

calamares: $ 7.95
flash fried squid, sweet red onions, cilantro-garlic mayo

Love their calamares. Again, perfectly fried, not greasy. The batter is just right. I like the cilantro-garlic mayo, but it used to come with a slightly tarter mayo condiment (calamansi?) which I loved.

lumpia shanghai springroll: $ 5.25
pork, shitake, celery, carrots, sweet chili-plum dip
[not pictured]

I don't think I had this. Did we order this?

I believe JJS ordered this for himself. I didn't have any of this as well, nor did I get to take a picture. From what I remember from before, their lumpia shanghai is not bad.

baked tahong: $ 7.95
baked greenshell mussels with tomatoes, red onions, scallions, garlic butter

This is the taste of the baked tahong that I remember. I can't believe I'm tasting it again right now. When we used to make this, it was with a cheesy baked-on top. But the cheese is not really necessary and I like this as is.

And finally, green shells! I remember first seeing mussels in Canada... I thought they were quite ugly being all black like that. In the Philippines, the mussels are green-shelled like these, and their color is multi-faceted. They look like those holograms. So pretty. Oh yes, the taste. These were great. Garlic!!!

sigang na baka: $ 11.95
beef slowly simmered in tomato-tamarind broth, with bokchoy, okra and eggplant
[not pictured]

I had this before but not this time. I remember it being quite good. I've come to realize that I love sinigang with beef.

Yes! Sinigang with beef is the way to go! We will have to make it with beef next time, now that we make it with real tamarind and everything. ;)

steamed gulay: $ 5.95
bamboo steamed asian vegetables, topped with lola’s tomato pesto

I'm not sure about this vegetable dish. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it really, but it just seems so plain. Also, I have the feeling it might not be "Filipino" enough. Which makes me realize that I really have a limited vision of Filipino vegetable cooking, because after pinakbet and laing, I can't really think of any Filipino vegetable applications.

I don't remember the "tomato pesto" too much. This was nice enough. We need some vegetables. =)

mangga ensalada: $ 6.95
green mango, hard boiled egg, scallions, tomatoes, shrimp paste

Pretty, pretty, pretty.

Our mother loves this. This is a good combination of flavors. There were also shallots in there. The dressing: perhaps soy sauce and calamansi? Not too sure. This dish used to have fried dilis (really small fish) instead of the bagoong, but I think I prefer the flavor of the bagoong. This is with mango, after all. Although, the fried dilis had its crunchy texture going for it.

maknoks rekados fried chicken, half: $10.95
marinated in house spices, slow roasted then flash fried

This chicken is really yummy. It didn't get quite as eaten as the other dishes because for some reason it wasn't chopped up into pieces. It's always a debate for us whether to get this or the lechon manok. We have never gotten the lechon manok to try because we always pick the maknoks version.

crab and shrimp torta: $ 11.95
baked rock crab, shrimp and eggplant omelette with tomatoes, green peas, carrots, cheese, sweet soya and spiced catsup

This is probably the only thing I don't like in this array of food. I had one bite and I tasted the cheese and I couldn't go any further.

I guess I like our traditional(?) home torta better (with ground pork, green onions, soy sauce & sesame oil). I think perhaps it was the cheese that didn't jive with me, but I'm not sure.

palabok “malabon style”: $ 8.95
rice noodle, shrimp, pork, tofu, hard boiled egg, topped with crackling chicharon

The palabok was all right. It seems to lack a bit of oomph, though.

I don't know how palabok is made, actually. Again, like sinigang, people seem to rely on those packets of palabok mix. Hmm, do I detect a future post?

lechon kawali: $ 8.95
pan-roasted pork belly, mang tomas gravy

Boss #2 (almost 3 years old) grabbed one of the pieces, took a bite from the skin end (with the fat portion), and said, "Yummy!" I can imagine it being yummy because it's lechon kawali! I like the Rekados version of lechon kawali because it seems to be somewhat lighter. I've had numerous experiences with lechon kawali that have been already been double-fried.

grilled eggplant: $ 7.95
with tomatoes, onions, scallions, shrimp paste (bagoong)

I'm not a big fan of eggplant. I don't know: I used not to mind it but lately I find the texture of eggplant somewhat off-putting. As CSC said though, eat anything with that "relish" and it's already delicious. ("Kahit anong lagyan mo nung relish, masarap na e!")

grilled bangus belly milkfish: $ 11.95
from bolinao pangasinan, boneless prime milkfish belly, with pan roasted garlic and lemon, pinoy ensalada

This was good. I love grilled bangus. I was afraid that it's going to be too much belly, but we got a good helping of the firmer upper-half flesh of the bangus.

Yes, this was more flesh than belly. Good, good, good. And again, that "relish" (or "pinoy ensalada" with bagoong, in this case) is DELICIOUS!

bagoong rice (good for 2-3): $ 8.95
jasmine rice, grilled pork belly, green mango, hard boiled egg, scallions, tomatoes, shrimp paste

This was my most favorite thing on the menu E.V.E.R.!!! We didn't read the menu too closely, and so were quite pleasantly surprised that it had a big piece of grilled liempo (pork belly) with it. Next time, I would order this as my meal. OK, maybe share it with another person, since it was quite big. Set the pork belly aside, mix everything else up, and eat belly & mixed up rice all together!

The pork belly smelled SOOOOOOOOOOOOO good. When I looked for it, it was all gone. Next time, we're going to order this grilled liempo thing on its own.

And here it is on the menu!
grilled liempo pork belly: marinated pork belly in sweet soy, garlic and spices

Quite, quite full. But wait, there's more! The desserts, that is.

honey-calamansi: filipino citrus, honey slushie
[not pictured]
The kids had this drink. We asked for the drink to be split into 2 small glasses.

halo-halo supreme: $ 6.95
medley of sweet beans, ube, leche flan, langka, coconut gelee topped with milk and vanilla ice cream

chocolate and mango crème brulée: $ 5.95
with barquillos, made with callebaut chocolate and sweet mango, served with ice cappuccino yogurt

I was afraid that there would be a "mango sauce" or "mango pudding" taste to this, but good thing the mango were diced mango pieces inside the chocolate crème brulée. I have no complaints. The chocolate was nice and dark, the sugar nicely bruléed, the barquillos good and the ice cappuccino yogurt refreshing (and it had coffee flakes inside, I believe).

But, nothing can replace Rekados' "warm toffee cake"... which was NOT ON THE MENU ANYMORE!

“dulce“: $ 5.95
warm banana cake with mini turon, tapioca pearls, vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche sauce

Ah, the dulce! Where's my warm toffee cake??? I was a little bit apprehensive when I saw that they changed the warm toffee cake dessert to this new "dulce." But I thought they still had the components of the turon, the ice cream, and the dulce de leche sauce. The only change is the warm banana cake.

This was very good, but my heart already belongs to the warm toffee cake. The warm toffee cake had a much softer and looser crumb, which, to my mind, goes perfectly with all of the other components. The warm banana cake was a little bit denser and doesn't play as well.

Oh, please bring back the warm toffee cake!

We really would, in the middle of doing anything, just suddenly think of the warm toffee cake and imagine how good it tasted, how the touch of salt in the dessert went so well with the loose crumb of the cake and the sweet buterscotch sauce and cold ice cream. Imagine the repressed panic when we discovered the warm toffee cake was replaced by this "dulce"!

Warm toffee cake, we miss you. We still stare off into space and think of you.

(And I don't even like dessert!)


  1. Wow you guys had a feast. I wonder how much that meal cost you per person. I went to Rekado's once and never been back since. I like the ambiance but the food seems to be lacking something. I later figured out it's MSG. I've been so used to eating Pinoy foods with MSG that I sort of miss it if it's omitted. I also didn't like the palabok. It tasted bland to me. Anyway, with your post, I think it will be worth another visit. Thanks for sharing.

  2. It came out to around 12 bucks per person, which is reasonable for the amount and quality of food that we got. In fact, I think 12 bucks for the quality of food is more than fair.

    That's one thing when talking to friends about Rekados: it seems that most have this impression that it's "more expensive" than other Filipino restaurants. I don't really think that is the case, because when we go eat out at the supposedly "cheaper" restaurants, it still comes out to about 12 to 15 dollars per person.

    I highly recommend the restaurant. As I said, I commend the chef for his vision and I would like to support the restaurant so they will be here in the long run.

  3. I think my fave has to be Josephines. I know, it's not glamorous, but i think it's still the best Filipino food around. The only downside is that it's oily and fatty as hell.


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