Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Cafe Naci and the Unforgettable Comfort Food

"Some food are so comforting, so nourishing of body and soul, that to eat them is to be home again after a long a journey.  To eat such a meal is to remember that, though the world is full of knives and storms, the body is built for kindness." 
  Eli Brown, Cinnamon and Gunpowder
Comfort food or food that reassures, as what most epicures would agree to, may be defined distinctly.  Many would attest that a magical moment with a certain food may conjure up memories of childhood or of happy moments with a loved one.  Silly, that we know for a fact, every food is comforting in its own way, however, there are such food that gives you happy thoughts, or every bite a slackening, an excuse from all the craziness of this terribly busy world.

As simple as an Adobo cooked in a very special way can be listed as one, but having it everyday may deem its worth.  In an unlikely manner given it a twist can cleverly turn an unusual to something soothing like that of granny's cooking you miss terribly.  That's how I can liken a day eating Adobo Cannelonni at Naci.

Naci however came back to its old venue.  From being a go-to comfort food restaurant at The Fort area, they made a total make-over but still carrying the same comforting menu.

From the outside, the now, Cafe Naci doesn't look like much, unlike their previous impression-bright, spritely, yet consoling.  Tucked into a corner at the second level of Fox Square Building along Connecticut St., in Greenhills, inside it has a modern bistro-feel, sleek woody interior and dark-colored chairs and tables.

But the decor wasn't the primary focus for the owners.  After spending a couple of years in the restaurant business, Nadine Nocom, now more cognizant, decided to make it smaller thus more manageable, focusing on every diner's whims and how they can innovate more to really serve in such ways that are satisfying. 

The restaurant's premise still is modern comfort food.  With the menu that had drawn inspirations from the owner's (the Nocom family) favorite given some refinements by the late Chef Ed Quimson.  The menu also had a subtle face-lift, with some of the cult classics still on the menu but omitting personal names.  With respect to Chef Ed's contribution and making sure his legacy in the culinary world still lives on, they however retained the name Chef Ed's Pork Shank.  So if you are looking for Nadine's Adobo Cannelloni, just look for Adobo Canelloni instead and don't be caught ordering for Tita Em's, you might get the staff confused, just ask for Shrimp Chowder.

I have visited both the old NACI Comfort Food and Dessert Bar and NACI Comfort Food in BGC a couple of times, I never really knew they have closed down until hearing it from the owner herself.

With my longing for their menu offering I urged my husband to come with me and see the new Cafe Naci, which have just opened last Father's Day.

I need to admit that I still prefer the fresh and vibrant look of the BGC branch but of course it still is all about food.  Agree?

Our delightful lunch started with Beef Taco Springroll -the signature no mess tacos.  The same beefy taco filling intermixed with several kinds of cheeses, were rolled in rice spring roll wrappers and fried till golden.  Of course, an exaltation from a famed Mexican staple, need a heap of salsa.  To make this ultimately unique, a tangy sour cream sauce is added.

This salad that was presented to our table will definitely test every diners' appreciation of this dish, it sure have tested ours, and we gave it an excellent rating, even in the presentation alone.

The Kani Mango Crunch (P 270) is a tall piling of leafy greens, kani, ripe mangoes, cucumber, crispy wanton,and fried vermicelli  in a high, airy pile.  Mayo-based dressing with a hint of wasabi was a great spicy surprise to my husband that was drizzled all over, and he did like it.

Next to the course is a pasta dish.  Imagine a pesto sauce that is earthy, spicy and garlicky, but without thinking of Arrabiata sauce.  This time, think of plump and juicy shrimps tossed on that sauce together with angel hair pasta.  Voila!  Presenting the Spicy Shrimp Pasta (P 395).

The menu is a fusion of different cuisines, making the message of comfort food downright clear.  Your comfort food may be Italian's pasta, Chinese noodles or Spanish-inspired cooking.  But if you are looking for a different take on Paella or Valenciana, you may opt to have the Peruvian Chicken Rice (P 480).

Served on a Paellera, this yellow, cheery-looking rice dish was slow-cooked and baked.  What you will taste is an exotic yet filling dish to partner your meat with.  Strongly flavored with Peruvian spices, the cooked rice with chunky slices of chicken and capsicums glistened with a drizzling of aioli.  To balance the taste, you may want to squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on it.

An age old tradition, slow-cooking became less fashionable in many kitchens nowadays, except in some gourmet and heritage-rich restaurants.  Hard to admit that even in our beloved kitchen, this had no meaning.  So, I was so happy that Cafe Naci is still promoting slow-cooked dishes and one of Chef Ed's recipe is in the menu and had always been their best-seller.

Another of their house' special is fondly named after this culinary genius -Chef Ed's Pork Shank (P 530). French cut pork shanks were cooked for hours rendering an utterly juicy and tender pork, with the meat literally falling off the bones with a few digging of the fork.  The onion soup it was braised with was so flavorful and rich, similar to my lola's pork stew only the vegetables were not overcooked, for it was cooked separately in melted butter.  To make the dish all the more dreamy, mozzarella cheese was added on top.

Before I tell you something about how I would end this post sweetly, I need to confess a sin.  We did not order a dessert, though I know how divine their dessert line is,  and it would be totally unwarrantable if you'll miss to try one.  Yes, I'm guilty!

Anyhow, I hope having a big glass of Heaven on Earth can be my best excuse.  It's a rich chocolate smoothie of blended vanilla ice cream and dark chocolate, topped witha dollop of cream and mizzled with chocolate ganache.  Definitely my piece of heaven, right there on that cold glass!

Bhogs on the other hand, washed everything down with a tangy concoction-Black Grape Shake.

I know, you might be thinking of your comfort food right now.  I'm sure with the lavish list in their menu you're bound to be reunited to yours.  Gosh, I almost forget to mention they do have an all-day breakfast menu as well, thus they open early at 7 am to accommodate early risers.  So, what are you waiting for?

Address:  2 Flr. Fox Square Bldg., Connecticut St., Greenhills
Contact numbers: 7267266

1 comment:

  1. If you get those three core components right, you will have a successful cafe. And on a more ominous note, if you mess up any of those three core components, your cafe will not succeed.


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