Dessert Comes First

An obsession with dessert and other unabashed opinions of a food writer

Magnum White King
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Eating and Cursing

posted by in Filipino, Restaurants

crispy dinuguan2

This place makes such an impression on me that I eat there two times in two days.

Of course I’ve heard about Kanin Club. But what’s especially irksome is how long it took me to haul ass and eat there. Frankly, now that I’ve discovered how good it is, the threat of a much-expanded girth has become all too real. But if you’ve had a meal here, you know what I’m talking about.

Kanin Club has almost single-handedly built its reputation on one dish: crispy dinuguan (cover photo; P261). Practically an oxymoron, this much-maligned Filipino dish that’s been relegated to Fear Factor status, is a (soft) blood stew made of pig parts. This crispy dinuguan hews to the original in terms of consistency (saucy), the color (midnight black), and then skews off into its own tangent. The expected softness is replaced with an absolutely unexpected crunch that crashes through the mouth leaving in its wake a vinegary zing. At once crispy-chewy – is it chicharon? perhaps chicharon bulaklak? – these chunks of porky paradise are masticated into gritty, itty bits that dissolve on the tongue, their gloriously oily taste flooding through, lubricating the palate for another assault. It’s a dish that on first taste, I let loose a string of fluorescent expletives. My two friends glance at each other briefly before exploding into gales of laughter before taking in their own portions of porcine perfection.

tilapia
butterflied tilapia

green mango salad

Ian, who’s been to Kanin Club so many times he’s lost count, helps me navigate through the swath created by all the dishes we’ve ordered. “The tilapia goes very well with the green mango salad, the acidity of which echoes nicely with the sour tones of the sinangag na sinigang.” Butterflied and deep-fried, the tilapia (P246) comes to table curled in curious form. Dredged in flour and seasoned, it’s cooked so perfectly as to prevent any greasiness. Flesh so fresh, I use my hands to pick at the crispy bits, some of which are so crispy that they taste almost like crackers.

sinigang rice

The sinangag na sinigang (P224), or, as Ian describes it, “sinigang risotto,” is a concept that I have difficulty wrapping my head around. But it works. Rice is moistened with a broth, its acidity present and pleasant while echoes of the traditional sinigang appear in the bits of meat, eggplant, string beans, and green finger chilis (sili pang sigang). The final touch is its crown of crunchy, deep-fried kangkong (swamp cabbage) providing that needed textural change. A marvelous example of a well-thought out dish.

Ayala-UP TechnoHub
Ayala Land-UP TechnoHub, where Kanin Club’s latest branch is

Kanin Club has experienced phenomenal growth and popularity since its inception more than three years ago at Paseo de Sta. Rosa in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna. Situated within the complex where mountain bikers converge after several hours on the trails, Kanin Club became THE place to revivify. Owned by avid mountain biker Tony Cancio and his wife Mariela (also of Café Breton), they’re joined by Emily and Anthony Mendoza, the latter of whom is the king of Kanin Club’s kitchen. A second branch followed at Westgate Center in Alabang and then a third at the Ayala Land-UP TechnoHub in Quezon City. I would’ve appreciated it if they hadn’t jumped a city or two (hello Makati? Ortigas?) before landing on Commonwealth Avenue. It’s probably for the best though and for my hips as well.

tapa
tapa; aligue rice in background
bagoong rice
bagoong rice

Kanin Club is all about rice, obviously. Aside from the aforementioned sinangag na sinigang, I try the bagoong rice (P149; sufficient) as well as the aligue rice (P149), which tastes more like java rice electrified with lots of atchuete oil. Most dishes are great for two people with admirable appetites. Nibblers need not apply. Other dishes worth mentioning are the tapa ni Anna (P187), which is cooked enough so that it’s true tapa and not beefsteak (bistek Tagalog).

Kanin Club inside

It’s here that food is tremendous in quantity and quality married to winsome ambience that nods to the classiest of our Filipino heritage. Stained glass windows, hardwood chairs and tables, capiz accents, and paintings of provincial scenes with thankfully, nary a banana leaf or barong-clad waiter to be found. The service here, despite a merciless crowd, is quick and accommodating. After telling a waiter how much I’m enjoying my meal, he beams, “It’s the best, ma’am!” Then, when my Bin and I shamelessly order a maruya (another type of banana fritter) and turon for dessert, we’re told, “Baka masyadong marami na iyan para sa inyo, po.” It’s a well-trained server who has the interests of his customers in mind.

turon

Most people who walk away from Kanin Club don’t leave enough room for dessert. That must be remedied immediately. My Bin and I split the turon (P135; extra scoop of ice cream, P53), a pair of fritters as thick as a child’s forearm and stuffed silly with a motley we Filipinos call halo-halo. Inside this lumpia wrapper are smears of ube jam, macapuno strips, red beans, and saba bananas garnished with a scoop of queso ice cream, its golden hue a sweet beacon. God. There goes another string of fluorescent expletives!

~~

Kanin Club

Westgate, Alabang
771.1400

Paseo De Sta.Rosa
Sta. Rosa City, Laguna
(049) 544-0332

G/F AyalaLand-UP TechnoHub,
Commonwealth Avenue, Brgy. U.P. Campus, QC

24 Responses to “Eating and Cursing”

  • Oooooh YUM! I cannot wait, just can NOT wait to go to this place. I LURVE dinuguan and am crazy about sinigang. I am literally drooling over my MacBook’s keyboard. I have got to go to this place this weekend!

    You’ve done it yet again, Lori. Thank you for sharing this with us. Once I try this place out, I’ll let you know how it goes.

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  • So happy that they have a branch closer to the North.

    Thanks, Lori. :)

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  • god, I cant wait to go back there! Must discover what entrees go best with aligue rice! yum yum yummmmmmmm

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  • After feasting on the crispy dinuguan, sinangag na sinigang (Say that 10 times, quick!!What a tongue twister!) and turon, I have 3 words for prospective Kanin Club diners: Bring some Lipitor! Tsalap!!! :)

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  • i love their sinigang rice!! =)

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  • Sinangag na sinigang is such a dream, who could imagine that a sinangag will ever taste like that. I’m from QC and we used to go all the way to Sta. Rosa just to eat at Kanin Club.

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  • I am almost afraid to go to Kanin Club for fear of accelerating my appointment with my cardiologist and diabetologist. My girl and I passed by the branch at Ayala Hub and peeped inside at their menu and at what the other diners had already ordered. I must say the dishes looked interesting, to say the least. AND substantial enough for two daters honest enough about their hunger.

    We will muster enough courage to actually dine there next week, perhaps. Good review, Lori. Makes Kanin Club something to look forward to.

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  • My office is near a Kanin Club branch—it’s a blessing and a curse. The sticky rice with mango (ahem, mangga’t suman), topped with a generous heap of macapuno, is one of my most favorite things, ever.

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  • The crispy dinuguan is a revelation, probably the only dinuguan I don’t avoid. We also had the tapa (but it was the crispy tapa, i think boar?) and it was fantastic with the variation of bicol express made of sigarillas.
    It’s great to hear they’ve opened a branch in QC! Lipitor sales will skyrocket! Buy stock now! lol

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  • Ah, but Kanin Club is worth all the expletives and anti-cholesterol medication. <3 Even leftover Crispy Dinuguan, while devoid of the crispness but has added flavor from soaking in the sauce, is heavenly.

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  • i am a rice-person so looking at your photos of bagoong and aligue rice makes me drool just right now! and with your description of that sinangag na sinigang (huh?) from kanin club made me more curious how it works as you almost perfectly described it. –> thanks lori.

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  • And of course, since this is kanin club. All you can eat rice is on the menu.
    :-)

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  • Try their tinapa rice.

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  • The crispy dinuguan is it for me. But I find that whenever I order it, only I eat it – hubby and baby do not appreciate the tang, the color, the texture, the crisp, the ooohs and aaahs that emanate from me once I start eating it. This dish also does not go well with anything – it’s overpowering. But hey, I’m not complaining. My only complaint is when I take it home (and yes there are left-overs since in my family I’m the only fan of this dish), there’s no way for it to stay crispy. Or is there? Just a thought, er, a question.

    Love your posts, Lori. More power!

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  • Grabe, this is too much for a senior citizen, to just drool and drool and drool.

    Lovely post Sweet.

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  • I’ve seen Kanin Club in passing but never got the chance to eat there…after hearing your description of crispy dinuguan and butterflied tilapia, I am so planning a trip there this weekend (because for Makati/Ortigas residents, their locations certainly qualify as a mini road trip! :)

    Thanks for the wonderful post, based off the dishes you’ve described, it will likely be my new favorite restaurant for Pinoy food!

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  • Kanin Club is my new fave resto. Ate there last week, sarap ng seafood kare- kare. Sauce pa lang ulam na. Also the crispy tadyang paired with bagoong rice. The desserts sarap din, truly pinoy food at its best. Babalik balikan mo. Kaso nga lang they don’t accept reservations for family gatherings in UP Technohub. First come, first serve daw. Hope they change their minds though.

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  • Humble food, wholesome interiors. It’s surprising how a place so simple can call for so much of my patience when it comes to waiting for a table. Everytime I visit, no fail!.. I have to wait. But then again, I’ve got to try the sinigang na sinigang, it looks very interesting.

    Hi Lori, Cute Jollibee banner on the main page. =)

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  • One of my favorite restaurants. The crispy dinuguan is divine but I have to warn people though to eat it as an appetizer rather than an ulam. There’s an ‘umay’ factor and yes, it is too sinful as an ulam.

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  • we went to the commonwealth branch first to try the crispy dinuguan – it was sooooo good. so last night we took my husband’s family to the alabang westgate branch and we were soooooooooo DISAPPOINTED. you can just imagine us telling them this was the best dinuguan ever only to find out that the westgate branch served dinuguan with mere chicharon. :( so sad. and their serving was soooo small compared to the serving in the commonwealth branch.

    also the service was horrible at the westgate branch. first we tried to reserve a table because there was ten of us- they refused to give us a reservation (I should have known to cancel right then). then when we got there, the waiters were difficult to call (we were at the ground floor right in front of their bar). then the sinangag na sinigang they served us were two different things (we had two orders) – one plate had meat, the other one did not and when we asked why the waiter refused to believe that there was no meat on the other plate. eventually they did serve us 2 small slices of meat. but the damage had already been done.

    we had such a wonderful time at the commonwealth branch, that I thought the westgate branch would be a good place to have dinner with my husband’s family. (since westgate is closer to where they live) but I was wrong.

    Lea_Alissa, I’ve heard that the UP-Ayala Land branch is worlds better than the Westgate branch.

    –lori

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  • hi, lori! just discovered your blog recently. i’m a japanophile too!
    love how you describe your food experiences. you make me drool.
    i was wondering if you would know how to recreate that halo-halo turon recipe. i’m thinking it would mean buy a bottle each of ube jam, macapuno strips, red beans and fresh saba (or is that bottled too)? what was that brown sauce that solidified on the turon made of? is it just sugar and sesame seeds?

    thanks in advance!

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  • I love your blog kissy kissy !

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  • So I’m leaving the country soon and will definitely miss this. Any suggestions on how to recreate this? I’m not that good a cook but I can manage…was thinking I cook the rice in sinigang broth?

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