I am such a fan of filipino food. In fact, the past many years have seen me raising a howl at the reality that Philippine cuisine is not exactly globally recognized in the magnitude it truly deserves.
Lately, there’s come about the mushrooming of quality restaurants that showcase the best of Philippine cuisine. One of my favorite restaurants that serves authentic, quality and excellent pinoy food has been Abe in Serendra.
My good friend Nadine is in town now to visit her folks. She’s based in Sydney, Australia now with her family. Having been away from the Philippines for sometime now, Jake, Sam and I took her to Abe so her palate could re-acquaint again with our local food.
We had Abe’s famous binukadkad na pla-pla with balo balo relish, kare-kare with manggang hilaw and bagoong, sinigang na baboy, gising gising and their famous tamarind shake as refreshment.
To me, the pla-pla was and has always been the superstar of Abe. It’s crunchy while still keeping the moist of the flesh. It’s definitely the perfect partner for the balo balo. This dish also comes with some few pieces of mustasa leaves that can be made as wrappers for the balo balo, too. Hah, this balo balo is so flexible! To sum it up, this buro can be eaten in three ways: 1. with the pla-pla and rice 2: with the mustasa leaves 3: can be eaten as is without anything else. I literaly wolfed down the whole serving! Haha!!
The kare-kare also had rave reviews that night. Personally, I measure the yumminess of kare-kare based on the choice of the cuts used to make it. Lucky me, Abe used the parts I sooo liked— buntot and tuhod ng baka. It was the almost fall-off the bones kind, sarrrap! The litid and the laman just melted in my mouth so perfectly. However, I had to ask for extra sauce because the sauce was too sparse and so not in proportion with the meats and veggies that they threw in.
My mom is an excellent cook– especially with kare-kare. I grew up with her orienting me how a good kare-kare should look like and how it’s supposed to taste. Sadly, most kare-kare fares I’ve tried in Manila have been a big let down. Either the meat is too rubbery for chewing or the sauce too red and sweet. Finally, I found Abe. Finally, finally!
The sinigang na baboy though wasn’t that great. The pork was too overweight! Ha, ha, ha! Too much fat. And it swam in an ocean of too much sabaw. Also, I looked forward to finding more veggies in our sinigang bowl but the kangkong was the only veggie I remember finding there. Where did the labanos, okra, talong and the whole tomatoes go? Also, I would have wanted it more sour with some kick of sili. They threw in some sili, alright, but it failed to spice up the fare. Perhaps, they should have chopped a piece or two to release some great sili flavors. Spices in this dish definitely dictate the success of the final result. I’m suddenly reminded of the sinigang in Batangas, they eat their sinigang with bagoong Balayan and calamansi as condiments, it’s the best!
The place showcases portraits of Abe and his family that give the overall ambiance of homminess and comfort feel. My daughter Sam was so amused with the knick knacks it displayed at every possible corner like an old typewriter, art tools and yes, pieces of art! She was too entertained that her persistence to go to the nearby Fullybooked was momentarily ground to a halt.
Our sweet ending was courtesy of the sansrival that capped the dinner. Not the gooey kind but good enough for a sugar coated night cap.
Aah, the ‘mandatory’ picture taking before we called it a night. Nice to see you again, Nads!