Fely J’s Kitchen

Fely J’s Kitchen is part of the LJC group of restaurants. Our family has been a long time fan of their their flagship restaurant Cafe Adriatico (known for it’s Spanish cuisine) and Bistro Remedios (known for serving chic Filipino fare) in Malate as long as I can remember. Fely J’s is a restaurant dedicated to the the memory of Felicidad de Jesus-Cruz, mother of the late restaurateur Larry J. Cruz (LJC). It features Fely J’s recipes she picked up in her travels. It not only serves Filipino food but other Asian dishes as well.

We ate here for another birthday celebration, this time my nephew’s. They gave us a private room for our party of 13.

We are given complimentary kropek or fish crackers while we wait for our order.

IMG_8964

For starters we got Utan Ilonggo a Visayan style vegetable soup with clams, shrimp, lemongrass, malunggay and saluyot leaves. This soup was just sublime, it looks very simple but was surprisingly flavorful. My sister’s and I all agree we can eat this by itself.

IMG_8979

The sizzling sisig which is finely chopped pig’s cheeks sauted in spices and served in a sizzling plate was hit with the young ones, my 3 nephews and niece can’t get enough of it and say’s this is one of the best they have ever tasted.

IMG_8976

We also had Vietnamese Fresh Spring Rolls – fresh rice paper rolls stuffed with vegetables shrimp and pork with a peanut and Thai dipping sauce and Fried Calamares – deep fried squid with sweet chili sauce.

IMG_8970

IMG_8966

For the mains we had Tilapia with sweet plum sauce – whole deep fried tilapia that was graciously sliced and served to us by our waitress.

IMG_8987

Lamb Kaldereta which is stewed lamb in tomato sauce, red pepper and olives.

IMG_8991

For veggies we had Gule Magalang a vegetable dish that is similar to Utan Ilonngo but it is heartier and also a favorite of mine and Stir fried broccoli with mushrooms.

IMG_8997

IMG_8999

Last the Chicken Inasal which is grilled chicken marinated in garlic, calamansi and spices.

IMG_8995

For dessert we had Minatamis na Saba – sweetened bananas with milk which took me back to my childhood as this was commonly served as a snack.

IMG_9016

The Sikreto ni Maria Clara was a surprise and became the crowd favorite, it was sticky rice and mangoes covered with softened macapuno (coconut) ice cream then topped with grated panocha (similar to muscovado sugar).

IMG_9011

Canonigo with Mango Balls – caramelized meringue with custard sauce and mango balls. I remember my mom making this for us but using canned fruit cocktail instead of mangoes.

IMG_9020

Maiz con hielo is sweet corn kernels served with shaved ice and milk and sago’t gulaman which is considered a cooler is tapioca balls with jelly sweetened with brown sugar syrup.

IMG_9022

IMG_8972

Overall I would describe Fely J’s to be home style Filipino food with flavors that are refined and sophisticated. Spices are not too strong and overpowering and would not give you a cloying or greasy after taste. Service was excellent since they have well trained staff.

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar

Sarsa Kitchen + Bar is in my list of the top three places to eat and visit during my trip back to the Philippines. My family had lunch there to celebrate my dad’s 77th birthday. After attending a short service at UCM we just walked a few steps to the restaurant which is located on the same street in Legaspi Village, Makati.

I have heard many great things about this restaurant and was really excited to try out their food. They serve modern Filipino food with a twist. Meaning they make traditional Filipino food but present it in a more exciting way. We kind of went overboard and ordered at least 10 different dishes. Everything on the menu looks so good and my family wanted me to try out as many as I can.

IMG_8239

For appetizer we got Isaw or grilled chicken intestine. This is considered a very popular street food and I must admit it’s my first time to ever try it. Theirs was grilled to perfection and the spices and flavorings just right. Upon my nephew’s recommendation we also got Sizzling Kansi which is bone marrow with gravy. This is a very rich dish, it has got a lot of meat in it too and a unique way of serving bone marrow.

IMG_8261

IMG_8277

Another note worthy dish is the Tortang Talong with Sardines and Kesong Puti (eggplant omelet with sardine and cheese) with a dipping sauce of spiced coconut vinegar and chili banana ketchup. This is something I would like to recreate in the future.

IMG_8269

Inasal lumpia is chicken Inasal (shredded grilled chicken) wrapped in lumpia (rice paper) with achuete garlic sauce. This was a surprise because the flavor just explodes in your mouth and everything goes well together. This dish reminded me of peking duck served in wrappers.

IMG_8265

Their Pinakbet a vegetable stir fry dish was full of umami since it has talangka sauce (crab roe), crispy tofu and their very own XO sauce.

IMG_8275

We got Crispy Hito as a seafood dish, it was fried really well and came in a coconut sauce. Our other main dishes were Kare-Kare (beef in peanut sauce) and Chicken Binacol which is poached chicken in coconut and ginger which kind of reminded me of Tinola.

IMG_8292

IMG_8282

IMG_8273

Last but not the least is Chicken Inasal, the Bacolod style grilled chicken.

IMG_8279

Eating Filipino food will not be complete without rice so we got two kinds garlic rice and danggit fried rice which is a special request of mine.

IMG_8271

IMG_8294

We didn’t have room to try out their dessert. Overall this is one of the best Filipino restaurant I have ever been too and would not hesitate to go back again.

Ate Neng’s Dinindeng

Sometimes the simplest of food is the tastiest and most nutritious. On my recent trip back home to Manila I got to sample this vegetable dish called”Dinindeng“. Ate Neng kindly showed me how to prepare it. This is the Visayan version of Dinindeng and a staple of her hometown in Rombang, Belison, Antique.

IMG_7950

To make you will need several kinds of vegetables – alugbati (malabar spinach), saluyot (jute), sitaw (yard beans), talong (eggplant), kalabasa (squash) and okra. First, boil about 4-5 cups water in a medium size pot. Once it boils, add a medium sized chopped red onion and about 2 pieces of diced roma tomatoes. Then add 2 Tbsp fish sauce or salt to flavor the broth. Add the vegetables beginning with the hardiest, first add the cubed squash and let it cook for several minutes, then the okra and eggplant. Once these vegetables are tender you may add your leafy greens. Just let this cook for a minute or so, you don’t want to overcook it.

IMG_8158

IMG_8159

Ladle into bowls and serve hot. We ate this with steamed rice and fried fish.

IMG_8168

IMG_8163

P.S. Alternatively, Ate Neng said you can add the fried fish directly on the cooked vegetables before serving to make the dish more flavorful.