This restaurant epitomizes all the modern day needs for simple yet pleasurable Filipino food. If you happen to be in Ayala and are looking for a dining venue where you not only get your pennies worth, your stomach full, and your mood that's positive till the end of the day, better head on at simple lang.
Gingerly located at the middle, amongst 15 restaurants lined up at the Ayala Triangle Gardens, Simple Lang broke the classical, humdrum, Filipino tradition in preparing home-cooked dishes we may have grown up with.
"Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance."
- Jon Franklin
They bout that the restaurant offers simple pleasures, which is food, however, as much as they would want diners flocking their restaurants, I can feel some intimidation hovering among the passers by when I was there to try the place.
First of all, the place used to be the defunct Momo Cafe, another factor might be the sophisticated interiors of Simple Lang. I guess the Raintree went a bit overboard from the term and concept, it had gone to an extreme, thus the whole reso becomes an accent for elegance. I never really mind though, it's just "sayang" that people who works and lives around the area never get to try the fare that was meticulously researched and tested with the diners' need in mind.
While waiting for the food that was ordered for us, I scored quite a few photos from the place. It doesn't mean though that the food were served long, I'm just in awe of the place with all the splashes of reds from the hanging lights, chairs and hanging cabinets. Also, I'm a clicker-happy when my camera is hanged on my shoulder.
We were seated near the open kitchen, right where all the action was.
Apart from the comprehensive menu, they also have daily specials, look for the big white-framed blackboard.
I'm so loving these tables.
They have a second floor area, btw.
The dining area at the second floor provides a more intimate or secluded part which is great for meetings and "chikahan."
The Chef Frederick Arellano at the helm.
Random hand-painted labels on condiment bottles.
No frills really, not! Just on this set up.
Now that I have shared the stage with you, let me now go on and check out the food for you.
An assemblage of thirst-quenchers makes up a good starting order. My co-diners went all out with unique smoothies and shakes, I, on one hand just had this Vit C booster - Calamansi “ade” (P 85). A local lemonade or lemonada, this calamansi juice is infused with lemon wedges.
Mango Sago (P 150), is a fresh mango shake with tiny tapioca pearls or sago.
Strawberry Guinumis (P 125) is a strawberry slushy slash ginumis. Ginumis, for those who don't know, is a snack favorite made with shaved ice, sweetened with panocha and coconut milk.
For starters, I got to sample the Crispy Ukoy and Green Mango Salad (P140). I love the batter enveloping the mound of minuscule shrimps. It was deep fried to a crunch and was laid on a bed of shredded green mango, red and green chilis and Baguio beans with a Thai-based vinaigrette.
The health-conscious me screams inside with praises for this dish. Let me ask you, have you ever eaten local green leafy veggies in a mouthful? Let me rephrase, have you had a dish composed of not two but three local greens such as kangkong, camote tops and alugbati? For those non-veggie eaters, I say, "Shame on you!" If you want to try this though, let me give out more glorification as this was elevated in flavor with tomatoes and onions, heavily poured with a unique sauce or should I say, dressing, made from salted egg and olive oil. I say, Tinapa’t Tops (P 185) is pure genius.
Moving on the next appetizer, the Crispy “Chop Chop” Pork Belly Dinakdakan (P195).
Dinakdakan recipe is a popular Filipino dish especially in Ilocos and northern part of Luzon. Hog's head and brain is cooked in seasoned and spiced boiling water, then grilled until crispy. It is then chopped into small pieces then mixed with mayonnaise, onions, salt and pepper to taste. It's their rendition of sisig actually.
However, Simple Lang made a twist on it's originality. Instead of using heads or brains, pork belly was used. Prepared like bagnet, it is chopped bigger than the sisig and dinakdakan but still kept that flavor familiar to the regional dish.
The introuction for the main menu was ushered when a huge serving plate was put on the center of our table and on it is the golden rice, also known as Sisig Fried Rice (P180). To simply describe this, it's fried rice dandied up with sisig
Sinigang na Crispy Bagnet sa Watermelon (P 395) will have all other Sinigang dishes envious. I swear! This looks like red sinigang prepared by a chef'/food historian that I know but way different in all aspect. Now let me list up a few sinigang souring base for you: there's sampalok (tamarind) of course, then, camias, miso, guava, even the leaves of the tamarind will do. What if I tell you, this soup is flavored and soured with watermelon? You might react and say "Really?! Di nga?!
You'll love all the components in this unique take in the sinigang, the balanced sourness and sweetness is complimented and that crunch from the bagnet, Ah, addictingly good!
Another culinary invention that brings pleasure to the eyes is deep fried vermicelli. This thin form of rice noodles we normally see on "pansit sotanghon" is dipped quickly in hot oil, achieving a beautiful nest-like bed for another seriously addicting palabok sauce and trimmings.
Behold, the Crispy Palabok (P 275)... It is served with the sauce separately and then prepared by the staff before it is sub-divided. The crunchy noodles begin to sop up the shrimp gravy, and the transformation begins, then you just savor on it! It has all the ingredients you want in a palabok however they did add a few bits of bagnet.
The Mixed BBQ Plate ( P595) is a nice combo for either the sisig rice (or other specialty rice) or the Crispy Palabok. The plate has skewers of chicken, pork and squid. I got a bit amazed with the squid because of the tender-bite texture brushed with the barbeque sauce.
I'm sure every home kitchen has their own forms of tortang talong. If you want that for lunch and dinner but can't get home that quick, the next best option is Simple Lang's Chorizo Tortang Talong Pancake. This circular omelet over an eggplant is exploding with lots of chunky ingredients, I could never have thought of putting in my torta. It has "hubad" na chorizo, tomatoes, onion, spring onions and sporadic bits of salted egg. Yes, in :kolehiyala's terms it's "pina-sosyal na tortang talong."
Now comes the dessert and the menu is teeming with Filipno dessert and snack faves such as Simple lang Halo-Halo (P 175). It may not be comparable to the famous Original Digman's Halo-halo or Razons, it does however has an appeal and the grated cheese made all the difference.
Or maybe you want something sweet, yet simple and not cloying, then I suggest getting Buko Pandan Pinipig Crush (P 150). The traditional taste of pandan, buko and pinipig is amplified with an addition of a scoop of cheese-flavored ice cream.
Last but definitely not the least on my line up, is a plate of Turon Bites (P 95). The cunning idea of having caramelized slices of saba bananas and Pinoy fried donut served with sticks poked into the elements is so "maka-masa," but not limited to the concept. The bananas and donut slices are drizzled with condensed milk and drenched in black and white sesame seeds.
As you can see, they have revolutionized our home-grown food, normally cooked in carinderias, street-side food and economical work-pantries. What you will see on the menu are kick-ass versions of our lolas cooking but still on the comfort-level that's also easy on the pocket. The serving is huge and can aptly serve 2 to three persons.
One final word: Oh my gosh! It's so sarap!
Address: Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati
Contact Numbers: (632) 6216162; (632) 6216162