Kulinarya first opened in 1999 along the White Plains/Blue Ridge stretch leading towards Katipunan. It was quite a hit and since it was a small place, it often felt like I was eating in someone’s makeshift dining room. It had an open kitchen, and whether it was due to well-placed acoustics or whatever else, I never heard any banging pots or pans. I always ordered the same thing here — the silky squash soup, the crab mango salad, and some pasta or other. They also had good desserts. I remember a light cheesecake with an impressive mound of spun sugar as garnish. They also had this fudgy chocolate cake, although if memory serves me right, it was just oh-kay.
Kulinarya has moved to a larger spot at the Power Plant. It isn’t as cozy anymore, but it’s not uncomfortably big. I can still have an intimate meal with whomever I happen to be. The open kitchen is still there, and large food prints in transparent frames line the walls, adding a splash of color.
K and I were at Kulinarya recently. She had a strange request: “I’m in the mood for something heavy like congee, but I want to eat a salad,” she tells me. Huh? Heavy like congee but light like salad? Since I try not to begrudge a good friend what he or she may want, I nodded and then proceeded to rack my brain for where we could get a decent salad.
We got it at Kulinarya. As you can see from the picture, we had quite an array of them. If you look at the photo collage from the upper left corner and move your eyeballs counterclockwise, that’s the Harvest Salad, a combination of assorted curly greens, kesong puti (water buffalo cheese), roasted pistachios, sliced olives, walnuts, grape halves, and apples for garnish. The balsamic vinaigrette bound the flavors nicely together. Moving down, that’s the Lamb Roll, lamb bits rolled in a tortilla wrapper with a creamy sauce and mixed greens for a side. Next is what K had to satiate her odd craving for the day: the Mango Crab Salad. It pretty much speaks for itself — vibrant it is with its mayo dressing (Japanese mayo, methinks), succulent mango slices, and big shrimps. All together now, mmmmm. The last photo is a show-off shot of our meal.
When you go to Kulinarya, make sure you try their pastas. I recommend those over their other main courses, which I find pricey and not as satisfying as their more starchy counterparts. And make sure you ask for their bread and for the requisite olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese that should go with it. You have to nag them about giving you the accompanying dip. One caveat. I’m not too impressed with the service here. The waiters seem to be distracted and never really “there,” if you know what I mean. But shake that aside, and concentrate on your food.