Satisfying a craving for ginisang monggo and eating around QC

One of the most viewed posts in this little blog is the story on two restaurants along Maginhawa Street in Quezon City. That stretch in the district of Diliman remains a popular dining destination, although nearby streets and districts have their fair share of good restaurants for different budgets and cravings.

Recently, I met up with two friends, A and JK, for lunch at Tatung’s Garden Cafe . I first heard of Chef Tatung, who’s a big supporter of using local and sustainable ingredients, when I was researching on organic farming in the country for a magazine feature. The restaurant is in a house with a little garden in a quiet residential street and it serves local dishes–which gives the atmosphere that you’re simply having a nice meal at your parents’ home. Our spread included Tatung’s Favorite Fried Rice, Inihaw na Pusit (grilled squid), Chicken Sisig Lettuce Wraps, ginisang monggo soup, the Warm Tsoknut Chocolate Cake and a cold bowl of halo-halo. (Our meal came to a total of around P1,100+)

Our small spread of fried rice, grilled squid, chicken sisig lettuce wraps and ginisang monggo soup

Loved the monggo soup the best–probably because I’ve been craving for it for quite some time. It’s a simple Filipino soup made of mung beans with the salty taste of smoked fish bits and bitter melon leaves, something you can find in most humble neighborhood eateries. It was a good starter, while the chocolate cake and halo-halo ended the meal and the conversation on a happy, we-should-do-this-again-soon mood.

Address: 17 Matipid St., Sikatuna Village, Diliman; phone: (632) 352-6121

Here are five other neighborhood restaurants in the Diliman and Katipunan area worth a visit should you find yourself in this part of Metro Manila, where you can satisfy cravings for Filipino food, vegetarian dishes, pizza, and even cheap Japanese food.
Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant. A restaurant that also serves Filipino food with Chef Giney Villar in the kitchen. The sprawling restaurant is furnished in traditional Philippine decor. The menu is one of the most extensive I’ve seen that features dishes from the many regions of the country (from Ilocos down to Sulu) and quite a list of heirloom recipes.

Could certainly have used a glass fresh fruit shakes in the hot afternoon or the Felicidad (at the back)

Tokwa Rebosado

Our lunch included Piassok, which was a dish from Sulu made of beef chunks cooked slowly in coconut cream and grilled. I don’t think I’ve seen this dish in any other restaurant in Manila. The Tokwa Rebosado or crisp tofu patties was a good starter. For indulgent, cool drink, try the Felicidad, a drink made from eggs, cream, milk, and some rhum and vanilla (I would imagine the taste is a close cousin of egg nog).

Address: 119 Kalayaan Avenue, Diliman; phone: (632) 926-8712

Pino Resto Bar and Pipino. A few minutes away from Adarna, these two restaurants have gained quite a following among pork-loving Pinoys and vegans. How can the two be in the same sentence? Pino, which opened a few years ago, has become one of our go-to nearby dining joints when we’re craving for Filipino food–but not the one we’re used to at home. Chef Ed Bugia has a talent for mixing beloved local dishes together–like the Kare-Kare (a stew made with peanut sauce, ox tail and vegetables and served with bagoong or shrimp paste on the side) and bagnet (deep-fried pork belly)–and coming up with a sinful offering like Kare-Kareng Bagnet (slices of deep-fried pork belly on a bed of vegetables and peanut sauce–the cucumber, carrots and onion rings on top are mere garnishing and have nothing to do with Kare-Kare).

Starting this weekend, I heard that they’re coming up with new dishes, including the intriguing Lengua Batchoy. So that’s ox tongue mixed with a local noodle soup made of liver and pork broth. Can’t wait to try it.

Pino’s Kare-Kareng Bagnet

The Portobello Inasal is not the most photogenic dish but it’s one of the consistent dishes in Pipino’s menu

Pipino’s Banana Polenta with Asparagus Salad and Sun-dried Tomato Confit

As if to atone for Pino’s sinful menu, the same owners opened Pipino upstairs. Serving strictly vegetarian dishes doesn’t mean you’re getting the bland end of the flavor spectrum. The Portobello Inasal and the Vegan Lasagna are often hits (there was that one time the lasagna was dried and old though) but I don’t think I’ll be ordering the Tofu Scramble anytime soon. Oh, and don’t forget to order something sweet in the end. The sherbet and ice cream are lovely.

Address: 39 Malingap St., Teachers Village, Diliman

Crazy Katsu. Heard about this little katsu place along Maginhawa last year from a friend–that the katsu dishes were cheap and they were good. It’s nothing like Yabu (the katsu place getting a lot of buzz in Manila and for good reason), but then it’s not as expensive as Yabu.

One hot dish

Chicken Katsu

Katsuretsu (deep fried cutlet) dishes range from P140 to P190. The Chicken Katsu (P145) is the bestseller and the soy-based sauce that accompanies it probably has a lot to do with it. With some chopped bird’s eye chilies, the sauce is quite spicy. Before I finished, I could feel the sides of my mouth burning from the sauce. I would eat it again in a heartbeat. But with an extra cup of rice on the side.

Address: 81 Unit I Maginhawa St., Teacher’s Village, Diliman; phone: 435 0030

Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza. If there is a pizza joint in the city worth writing home about, it’s Gino’s. Recommended by the same friend who told me to try Crazy Katsu, Gino’s serves Neapolitan-style pizza or how pizzas where traditionally made–hand-tossed, baked in a brick oven, with a thin, crispy and tender crust, and a few toppings. No stuffed crusts here.

The Buffalo Chicken pizza at Gino’s was a delicious mix of sweet, salty and spicy

Never liked white cheese pizza since it can get too rich, but the arugula and basil in Gino’s Bianca Verde cuts the richness without scrimping on flavor

While traditional Neapolitan Pizza only has two variants: Marinara (just tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil) and Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil), the owner Jutes (Gino is his kid and Cello of Cello’s Doughnuts next door is his wife) has taken the less-traditional route when it comes to the type of pizzas he decided to put in the menu. Yes, there’s Margherita (though a Pinoy version of it as he uses kesong puti, a soft white cheese made from carabao’s milk, instead of mozzarella), but there’s also Bianca Verde (kesong puti, Parmesan, ricotta, arugula and basil), Pepperoni (tomato, pepperoni, kesong puti, Parmesan, red onion, and basil), Four Cheese (tomato, mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, blue cheese), Prosciutto (tomato, kesong puti, Parmesan, prosciutto, arugula) and the least Italian flavor of the bunch, the Buffalo Chicken (tomate, bits of buffalo chicken, mozzarella and blue cheese). The 12-inch pizzas cost anywhere between P280 to P400.

Address: 2/F K2 Building, Katiupunan Ave. (above Mercury Drug), mobile: (63) 917-5386847

Where do you like to eat in Quezon City?

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