January 22, 2008

To a Yummier New Year

In this second installment of my three-part series on restaurants to visit and revisit in the new year, I dish on even more yummy things.

barLO Resto Lounge, Two Seasons Beach Resort, Station 1, Boracay Island, Aklan

barLO offers an exciting blend of European and Asian flavors created by the father-and-son team of Gene and Gino Gonzalez. Frankly speaking, I didn’t have high hopes about the cuisine, considering that the last time I ate at Café Ysabel in San Juan, I came away very disappointed with what I had eaten. (True, this was many years ago, but it was so bad I vowed never to set foot in the place again.)

My sad experience with Café Ysabel, however, was completely blown away when I got a taste of some of the items on barLO’s menu. The Crispy Pork with Char Siu Rice alone is to die for. While I usually abhor eating pork dishes when I’m on a beach vacation, this dish was simply too delectable to resist. Crispy and crunchy, with the flavor of the pork fat just kicked up a notch when dipped in the raspberry sauce on the side. No greasy taste at all...just nice and neat.

Another fabulous find was the Chef’s Angus Beef Burger, which was supertender and juicy and cooked just right. Consider this the king of all Boracay burgers.

For dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Molten Chocolate Cake dusted with some caster sugar, and served with pine-vanilla ice cream. The cake isn’t too sweet and the ice cream and raspberry compote just gives the dish that extra kick to make this chocolate dessert totally exciting.

And I am happy to note that barLo is so the only restaurant this side of Boracay which serves crispy fried danggit for breakfast. It serves comfort food with a twist. And who can go wrong with that?

CYMA, TriNoma, Quezon City

WHILE Cyma has been around for awhile, this is Chef Robbie Goco’s first outlet in Quezon City. Cyma’s fans are flocking to this new location and packing it in especially during the evenings and weekends. (We’re told that many of the TriNoma patrons have been regular diners at the restaurant’s Shangri-La Mall outlet like myself.)

But we also noticed new diners, mostly Filipino-Chinese families, trying to get a feel of the Greek selections and, sadly, they sometimes stick to the familiar, like pasta, pizza and osso buco — basically Italian fare — which are also available on the menu.

We hope they try our favorites, such as the Roka Salata (P245 for the solo size but still enough to share with two other people), a typical Greek salad with a delectable blend of arugula, Romaine lettuce, candied walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, shaved Parmesan cheese, kalamata olives tossed in lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Sweet. Crunchy. Refreshing.

There’s also the really hefty Moussaka (P235), made from Japanese eggplant. Truthfully, I don’t like eggplants because of its mushy taste, but I make an exception when eating moussaka — Greece’s national dish — and just think of it as lasagna (which I love!) with layers of ground beef, tomato sauce and loads of mozzarella cheese with béchamel sauce (minus the noodles, of course).

(Sweet but healthy Roka salata. Photo from Our Awesome Planet)

The lamb gyros (no snickering about Greek shepherd boys now) is also a must-try. It is marinated lamb sliced into bite-sized pieces, with tomatoes, red onion, tzatziki and wrapped in a pita bread. Tzatziki is a classic Greek dip made of cucumber, garlic and yogurt which gives the lamb gyros a light cool taste and feeling despite the sizable amount of meat. Only P150 and filling enough for a quick lunch.

“Always leave room for dessert,” is my favorite motto. What’s a meal without a sweet treat? You should not miss the Skolatina, the most evil! dessert ever created on this good earth! It’s that sinfully good! It is a chocolate cake that just oozes with warm chocolate syrup when you spoon into it, and which you have to eat with the warm chestnut syrup and vanilla ice cream served on the side. What a pleasure it is to savor that warm chocolatey goodness and chilled creamy vanilla ice cream playing on your taste buds. It is like the best orgasm you’ve experienced in your entire life! Mmmm....

A piece of advice, though: if you are going to order the Skolatina, do so as soon as you sit down and order your appetizers and main entrées, as it takes about 30 minutes to bake. Also, for the good of your hips and blood sugar, do share it with someone. Unfortunately, Cyma doesn’t serve coffee, which would really make the perfect ending to the dining pleasures offered in this place.

We conclude this delectable journey next week....

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