I had the privilege of meeting an online buddy (Asmo) who's very much into food trips as I am. After a while of exchanging messages about food - either eating out or preparing dishes at home - he organized a small get-together. I tagged my sister along, and we were together with another friend (Nathalie of Halie's Kitchen) and some of Asmo's friends. We planned to eat at Van Gogh is Bipolar (in Maginhawa), but no one was able to locate the restaurant (I later found out it was because the restaurant has no banners or the usual big letters to spell out the name of the restaurant... all it has is a small "welcome sign" at the door). Most of us haven't really tried food tripping at Maginhawa, so Asmo just decided we go to Pino Resto Bar instead, even if he already dined there before.
Pino Resto Bar, from what I gather, used to be located along Maginhawa Street. Today, it is now located along Malingap Street. It is not that big of a restaurant (but it is spacious enough), and because there were eight of us that night, staff had to move some tables and chairs so all of us could share a space together. Good thing we arrived before the place got full! :)
With eight people having their own tastes and preferences, Asmo thought it's just fair that one of us would choose what we want and just share whatever dish one suggested. Presenting the feast we had that night, in no particular order:
Mini Sisig Tacos
Asmo chose this one because he knew this will be a big hit. I loved that the tacos are small enough to be bitten in half right away, minimizing the mess. This was a great way of serving Sisig and because it is usually rich, eating it with tomatoes and lettuce sort of cuts through the richness of the Sisig.
Wasabi Onion Rings
The onion rings were naturally sweet, the breading (or the batter, I don't know what's the correct term) was fluffy with light crisp, but eating the rings as is was a little bland, unless you dip it in the wasabi mayo.
One of the restaurant's signature dishes. This was a very innovative way of deconstructing Kare-Kare! I love the Bagnet - it was crunchy yet tender, the vegetables were okay, and the sauce was good. If there's one thing to complain, it would have to be sauce, it just wasn't enough! :) My companions were looking for the shrimp paste, but because I personally eat Kare-Kare without the shrimp paste, I didn't seem to mind it anymore.
Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Tasted just like any other Cordon Bleu, although the sauce was a little intriguing, in a good way.
Another delicious dish! I usually just eat Lengua (pork tongue) cooked a la Estofado, and this was such a revelation.
Binusog na Pusit with Kesong Puti
The squid was stuffed good, alright... but it lacked Kesong Puti. Maybe, if this dish was for one person, it would be just fine, but because there were four of us sharing a piece of squid (we ordered 2 of this, by the way), only one of us got to taste the Kesong Puti. Anyway, the squid was cooked just right, so overall, it was okay.
Pino Resto Bar also serves Vegetarian Dishes, through its Pipino Restaurant. I liked the idea of having two different menus - giving vegetarians a chance to enjoy a good meal with their meatatarian friends and family.
Fried Eggplant with Adobong Kangkong and Brown Rice served with Nilasing na Mangga
I chose this dish... because I wanted to eat some vegetables. What I liked? The eggplant and the kangkong mixed with the slightly tangy-sweet mangoes went well together. What I didn't like? The adobong kangkong was so light (in the adobo flavor), that I sort of regretted choosing this one.
Lemongrass Tofu Skewers with Guava-Chili Sauce
I know this is one of Pipino's signature dishes. I have attended two food bazaar events and Pipino served this and had lots of praises and raves from the people at the bazaar, but this particular one just didn't appeal to us that much. The sauce seemed to be the typical bottled sweet-chili sauce (based on how we tasted it), and the guava flavor was so subtle we weren't able to recognize it. Maybe this is an acquired taste - that us not liking it that much doesn't mean it tasted bad; we just didn't like it, simple as that.
Each of us went for the fruit-flavored beer. I forgot the exact list of flavors, but I went for the watermelon, my sister and Nathalie went for strawberry, one of us went for the apple (which tasted like Cali Shandy), and I also got to taste the peach flavored one (my least favorite - simply because I am not a big fan of the peach flavor). My sister and I were convincing each other that our drink was better than the other, but both strawberry and watermelon tasted great, although of course strawberry had its natural tang.
So many food eaten that night; all of us didn't just share food, we also shared stories and jokes and laughter. It was my first time to eat at this part of the Metro, and I was glad it turned out to be a very pleasant experience.
Pino Resto Bar
39 Malingap Street
Teacher Village - East, Quezon City