Is it possible to love in bits and pieces? When it comes to my restaurant experiences these days, I’m not compelled to write about my meals from beginning to end because I only love certain parts of them. Thus, a list like this one.
Crispy Duck Leg + White Chocolate and Cookie Butter Love – Ah Cake at URBN Bar & Kitchen
I like URBN because it’s one of the few places where I can have my aperitif before I dive into dinner, and the food is more than just an afterthought.
I’m here frequently enough to have tasted over three-quarters of the menu. Their sweet potato fries are the second best in Manila after Burger Bar, and when that’s done, I focus on my absolute favorite dish here.
URBN is rightly famous for the Crispy Duck Leg (P850+), it delivers on all counts. Resoundingly crispy, it’s a flap of skin protecting a moist morsel of meat beneath. For contrast in texture and tone, tastes of mushroom risotto are perfectly earthy and satisfyingly al dente. Lavish each spoonful with a lick of the red wine jus.
The White Chocolate and Cookie Butter Love-Ah Cake (P270) is a thank-you-god departure from the ever-safe chocolate lava cake that restaurants trot out when they need a no-brainer dessert. Lengthy in name and the pleasure it provides, the Love-Ah Cake deceives with its seeming simplicity until it’s prodded with a spoon. Disturb its trembling center and witness a gush of white chocolate falling over soft cake. When the flood has passed, a nugget of cookie butter remains. Spoon and smear it into the accompanying serving of now-melted vanilla ice cream, and use your fingers to clean up the remaining lashes of caramel on the plate.
Ahhh, love it!
URBN Bar & Kitchen
3/F Fort Pointe II Bldg., 28th St corner 7th Ave, BGC, Taguig
0917. 564 9333
Stracciatella + Salted Caramel Ice Cream at Green Pastures
Whenever I order the Stracciatella (P325), I almost feel like I’m back in Italy eating at the Obika Mozzarella Bar. Unrelentingly creamy, the stringy strands are the ideal companion for the rustic bread served alongside. I pinch off a portion, its crumb crackles in anticipation. Lightly buttered, I smear the stracciatella onto the bread, sprinkle some salt, and chase each bite with a nibble of arugula that’s perfectly peppery.
The buzz about the Salted Caramel Ice Cream (P235) dessert is so loud that I almost expect it to be lust at first lick. It’s a titillating concept surely, both in thought and texture: popcorn frolicking in ripples of ice cream and chocolate sauce, and a dollop of whipped cream. A collision of salty and sweet and tooth-sinking texture, my mind short circuits just imagining it.
In truth however, it’s only on my third visit to Green Pastures that I finally “get it.” I’m initially put off by the popcorn and wonder about its contribution to the dessert; it feels like playtime. And then I get it: playfulness is what it’s all about after all.
4/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall, East Wing, Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong
02. 654 3219
Wagyu Beef Cubes + Onigiri at Marufuku
There is no sushi roll more memorable (and massive!) than Marufuku’s eponymous roll. The Japanese restaurant excels at anything cooked in their robata, e.g., everything grilled or barbequed. The Yaki Onigiri (P150) is part of their new menu, triangular rice rolls of salmon, the roll itself grilled crisp at the corners and pleasantly smoky in flavor. Eat this with an order of the Wagyu Beef Cubes, squares of unspeakable decadence exuding oil and unctuous (yes, really) texture with every bite. The photo you see above shows two orders (P170 per stick) and yes, you’ll find even that isn’t enough.
Marufuku Japanese Restaurant
G/F The Crescent Bldg, 29 San Miguel Avenue, Oranbo, Pasig
02. 570 3989