Sunday, August 17, 2008

For the Love of Kebab

People who know me (and my appetite) know that I love meat. I can't imagine giving up beef, no matter how many cute cows you throw in my path. (Sorry.) And whenever I get an attack of the meat-munchies at ungodly hours, I head to a kebab place. The following are my regular haunts:

Mr. Kabab
West Ave., Quezon City

Most people mistakenly call it "Mr. Kebab," (I used to call it that myself) but as you could see from its huge sign, it's got an A, not an E. (Who knew?) My teammates and I have been hanging out here a lot lately, for reasons unknown. I've asked them to hang at Ababu, but they still insist on journeying all the way to West Ave. (bigger than the old one along Quezon Ave.).

I've gone to Mr. Kabab before midnight, at 2:00 am, and at 4:30 am...and the busiest time is actually 4:30! There was a long line of people coming straight from their gimmicks at this time, and I patiently waited for a big enough table (as my companions slept in the car!).

I normally order the Special Chelo Kabab--two pieces of longganisa-shaped beef on a serving of buttered rice. It comes with two grilled tomatoes, and is about P120. (The Chelo Kabab, which has just one kabab, is about P95.) My friends recommend their Shawarma Plate as well.

Note: It's vegan-friendly; if I remember right, they've got a vegetarian menu.

126 Pioneer St., Mandaluyong

From the outside, this place looks pricey--it's not like those other kebab places because, well, it's air-conditioned and has non-Monoblock furniture. But it's actually pretty reasonably priced.

I normally order two beef kebabs and rice, plus a side order of grilled tomatoes and onions. Their keema's good, and so is their chicken tandoori. If you're made to choose your rice, ask for the buttered one--the other types have fancy, intriguing names, but essentially aren't really anything special.

Note: They've got other Mediterranean offerings like pizza and pasta.

Xavierville Ave., Loyola Heights, Quezon City

H and I used to go to Ababu back when it was still in Teachers' Village. This year, they moved to a new location in Xavierville, but essentially kept the same old Monoblock chairs and tables! They raised their prices though--they used to have P7 iced tea in a small plastic cup. Now it's P30 for bottomless iced tea--still not bad. I used to get a full meal for less than P100, but now the prices are comparable with Mr. Kabab and Persiana.

I can't remember what I order here, but I'm guessing it's also chelo kebab! I looove their buttered rice, and their sauce is really tasty.

H normally gets a side order of keema. The Ababu version is just swimming in oil...

...which isn't really a bad thing. Hey, we don't do this every night anyway. Live a little, right?

Note: Among the three, I think Ababu would have to be my favorite. It's not quite as commercialized as Mr. Kabab yet. And any place with bottomless iced tea gets my vote. Plus, I love the goatee-d happy face on their store sign!

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Full Moon

For bi-anniv this year, H surprised me by taking me to Bulan, a converted Filipino-colonial mansion, tucked away in Little Baguio. The resto was relatively empty when we were there, save for a table with owner Marlene Aguilar and friends. As such, the servers were incredibly attentive, something H and I really appreciate whenever we dine out.

Bulan (which means "moon" in...another Pinoy dialect, not quite sure which, sorry) serves European/continental cuisine amid a setting of ornate wood furniture and impressive art. We decided on a set meal (P1,145): Mushroom Soup, Roma, and homemade gelato for dessert. We also ordered a pasta dish called Crystal's Flambe (P450).

The waiter asked if we would like to split the soup--very considerate of him, I thought. And I was delighted when they served our soup bowls:

Both of us got this little bowl with this pretty, puffed-up pastry. So charming! The soup had five different mushrooms blended in cream. Because of this, the waiter asked if we would like to change our pasta dish; the chef was concerned that we would have mushroom overload, but I stood by my choice.

The Roma was grilled orange-flavored filet mignon in marsala sauce, and served with zucchini and tomatoes in olive oil. While it was satisfactory, I wouldn't go so far as to agreeing that it was indeed the Best Steak out there (as proclaimed by a sign outside the resto). Good, but not the best I've ever had (Gulliver's comes to mind).

The pasta dish was linguini with three kinds of mushrooms blended with blue cheese, sprinkled with herbs, and with sour cream. Ordinarily, I am a big fan of the white sauce, but the chef was right--there can be too much of a good thing. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy this dish. I just feel that I would have appreciated it even more had I not had the mushroom soup beforehand.

H decided to let me have the dessert. We couldn't quite figure out if the waiter was saying "Caribbean Mocha" or "Arabian Mocha," but it's one of those.

It's mocha ice cream with a heavy dose of cinnamon. Interesting and quite tasty, something worth trying if you're feeling a tad adventurous.

Want to impress your honey? Bulan may be a good place to take her--it's a little hard to find, so you'll give off that vibe that you're in the know when it comes to restos. Its hidden location alone can be enough to make your date a bit more intimate.

Bulan is located at #3 Gen. de Jesus St. (near J. Abad Santos St.), Little Baguio, San Juan; tel. (02) 725-8496

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