Before Abe, Fely J's and Lorenzo's Way, there was Ang Bistro sa Remedios. 1984, was it's conception and it has been 30 wonderful years of entertaining locals and foreign tourists alike with good traditional Filipino cuisine. More known now as Bistro Remedios, together with it's sister restaurant, Cafe Adriatico, they had withstood a lot of changes in the culinary scene.
Together with the above mentioned restaurants and more, they all flourish together under one umbrella company- LJC Group of Companies. LJC stands for Larry J. Cruz, the father of LJC Group and the man who sought happiness in adventure and delivered passion in all his undertakings. I never knew him or read of him before I first stepped in Abe's Serendra a long time ago. I wished I could have met him before he died, six years ago.
However, after reading the book that was made for him and about how LJC, the company came about, I can attest that this guy deserve all the applaud, the curtsy and the loud cheers partnered with clinking of wine glasses. For he indeed redefined Filipino dining at its best.
Bistro Remedios used to be a house which they had and opened to cater to Manila's hungriest district. Armed with Kapampangan way of cooking to highlight authentic regional dishes, they have attracted a lot of diners up until now while some of the establishments around it have been lost forgotten.
This year, as they celebrate 30 glorious years, Bistro Remedios have launched new dishes. I was glad to be amongst those were able to taste it before they were served to the customers.
Though I'm a huge fan of LJC, and a regular diner to their restaurants, I must admit that it was my first time to come and try Bistro Remedios. If you haven't visited them yet, let me give you a sneak peek of how the place looks like.
I love that they have maintained that vintage vibe in their interior, typical of the Spanish villas we had of olden times.
Well-curated paintings and old furnitures still adorn the place, it's just like visiting your grandparents old house in the province but expecting to have a feast- that feeling!
So this month, prepare for different regional dishes given the Capampangan twist. You may want to try some of what I have tried...
Paco Fern Salad
Pako also known as fiddle head ferns to the sossy eaters, when fresh, is crisp and crunchy and refreshing especially in a salad with just tomatoes and salted egg and a drizzling of calamansi vinaigrette.
Sinuteng Baby Pusit
This is not part of the new addition to the menu but this is one of their well-loved dishes. Squid-lings are sauteed with lots of garlic in olive oil and spiced with siling labuyo. Probably added a dash a sugar giving it a sweet and spicy taste
A Kapampangan feast is incomplete without Sisig, do you agree? This dish is always the star of the table when having a guest over a dinner here.
I'm sure you wouldn't have guess it as it is. Disguised as chicken strips, these Frog legs battered and fried to crisp can beguile any exotic food eaters. With this way of serving frogs, no one can make excuses not to eat frogs. Oh, it is crazy yummy, though let me warn you for it the bones are still intact inside.
Isn't this dinner getting interesting by the minute? A sought after dish by those adventurous diners, Camaru (also spelt ‘kamaru’), is stir-fried in very little oil until they are toasted and crispy with some garlic, onions, tomatoes and chili. These are plump mole crickets (Gryllotalpa orientalis Burmeister) which are burrowing insects found in soft ground such as rice paddies. To encourage you to try this, it's actually Ninoy’s favorite dish and have been widely sold on streets of Vietnam and Thailand as street food.
It's not really bad, it somehow resembles eating crunchy peanut but slightly soft in the middle. For me it's better cooked a little toasted.
Sinigang na Bangus sa Bayabas
I only eat and buy bangus when it's boneless and from Dagupan. I could not really tell where the Bangus here was from, but it didn't restrict me from not savoring this with its thick soup base made from pureed guavas. This is also served in Abe and it's the go-to dish that I always recommend others when dining in Abe.
Lechon Kawali sa Gata
Inspired from Bicol's famous dish -Bicol Express, this dish would make a good choice of a viand for kids. My kids have somehow learned appreciating other dishes apart from fried meats, and having a thickened coconut milk sauce on their crunchy fried dish will definitely win them over. This is not that spicy, it only has that right kick at the end of every bite. Though expect more rice to be ordered with an order of this.
Tropical in nature, this pork dish is sweetened with with coconut milk and bits of pineapples. I used to cook this at home, though I use chicken , instead of pork. It was a so-so dish for me.
Adobong Hito sa Gata
Another first for me. I never dared to cook hito or catfish, and never does it come close to my least favorite fish. But for the adventure of it, I sampled some bites. After getting a few bites, I never really realized that I was eating hito. Busy sampling out different dishes, the thought of eating a very fishy kind never crossed my mind. I like how it was cooked in coconut oil with a touch of Anatto oil (atsuete).
Crispy Tacyang "D Original"
Another sinful dish made its way to each of the tables, though I do have my own excuses not to eat them, I tried them, montheless. I thought it would leave my mouth oily, but it didn't. The huge chunks of bony meat were dry and crisp to the fork-bite. Make sure you dip it in the garlic infused vinegar.
The secret to a good chevon stew (chevon is how an adult goat meat is called) is to remove the nasty taste and smell of the meat. Grandmas know it but for some remains a unscrupulous.
Bistro Remedios have learned pretty well. Though the gamey taste is a little evident, the spicy tomato sauce have somehow elevated the meaty and savory taste, while giving a tender meat to the bite. A must for every family celebration.
Say, you want to impress someone, here is how you can win it, have a huge tray of perfectly charcoal grilled chicken and tiger prawns serve to your table and see how he or she delights in you and of course with the Sinugba Platter.
It was such a hearty meal we had that night, I was almost guilty of ingestic a lot of sinfully good classic dishes I have almost forgotten. Thank God they also gave us a serving of Gula Megalang.
It's like the fresh harvest season when all the nutrient packed green leafies were sauteed with diced squash. So even when my appetite is almost at its end, I can still eat some more without having rice and have this veggies with the crispy meat from the Tadyang and a little more from the Kaldereta.
But I sure did leave room for dessert...
Maja Blanca Remedios
Though it just comes close to my favorite LJC dessert, Sikreto ni Maria, I was enamored by the richness of this native delicacy. The maja blanca, which is actually a pudding made from coconut milk solidified with cornstarch, is swimming in a mixture of coconut milk and condensed milk, laced with shredded coconut meat and pinipig.
Indeed a delight! A cake we Filipinos can call our own. The taste laid heavily on of course, pandan, from the base cake to the velvety frosting. The frosting however is light and spot on my sugar meter. I just snug my nose away from very, very sweet cake.
Turon with Langka
When I'm at home, our house-help supplies us with Turon and Banana Que, which are heavily sugared by the way. However, their version of Turon is just lovely. The roll is fried without sugar, but it is served with caramel syrup separately. So, you can eat it as it is or dip it in the syrup. Whichever way, I like it.
After much deliberation, the newly added dessert, the Chocnut Cheesecake, proved to be the crowd favorite, I couldn't agree more. The cheesecake base is rich and dense, a bit sharp on the cheese, which I love and the crushed chocnut on top that pleases everyone, conjuring pleasing childhood memories in every bite.
To that I will end this post on such delicious notes and might I raise my glass for more years to Bistro Remedios!