Filipino food sometimes get some flak for being unimaginative, too greasy, salty or sweet. Many of us, however, grew up with happy memories of the dishes that our mom lovingly prepared during holidays, our lolas slaved over the kitchen during family get-togethers, or were proudly served by our neighbors during fiestas. Criticism against our beloved dishes either go over out heads or are met with fiery backlash.
The thing with Filipino food is that one dish may have numerous versions, depending on the region, or even the family, that serves it. In fact, these recipes are even more enriched by the stories and histories that go into their preparation. Filipino food is basically an amalgamation of native and foreign influences, and can easily be adapted according to regional, familial or even individual tastes.
This makes the work of Limbaga 77, a Filipino restaurant located along Scout Limbaga Street in the foodie-friendly Tomas Morato area, all the more challenging. According to owner Sonny Fortuna, the restaurant tries to stay true to the traditional and classic Filipino recipes. But with so many regional or individual variations, which versions should the restaurant present?
Based on my experience during a recent Zomato Foodie Meetup held at Limbaga 77, the versions that showcases the use of traditional and native ingredients take centerstage. The dishes served belie, more than anything, the allegation that Filipino food is unimaginative.
Take for example the Stuffed Bulaklak ng Kalabasa (Php227), an appetizer that made of squash blossoms stuffed with native cheese and minced pork, dipped and batter and deep-friend to achieve that crisp golden brown layer that gives in to a sumptuous bite of melted cheese and pork.
The Green Mango Pomelo Salad (Php377), on the other hand, combines the citrus-y flavors of the fruits with the grilled shrimp. Some shrimp pieces are a bit over-grilled though.
Most of Limbaga 77’s offerings are reminiscent of the special Sunday lunches that Filipino moms prepare to feed the family after church. The Roasted Chicken (Php577), Bistek Tagalog (Php477), Crispy Bagnet (Php477), and Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing (Php477) are all on-point as main dishes, showcased by the Danggit Rice (Php77) and Garlic Rice (Php57).
In the Pochero (Php577), in particular, the rich tomato-based broth provides a savory-sweet background for the slow-cooked beef short ribs, the crisp vegetables and saging na saba; in terms of presentation and use of fresh ingredients, I think the dish wouldn’t be out-of-place in a hapag-kainan during the colonial period.
Here’s some trivia for you: Did you know that the Pochero is one of the favorite dishes of Filipino reformist, writer and journalist Marcelo H. del Pilar? (Many thanks to fellow foodie Lawrence Chan for this interesting tidbit!)
The Buffalo Wings (Php277), was developed by the resto to appeal to younger diners who may want some finger foods for their after-office hangouts. Its blue cheese dipping sauce has some bits of cucumber in it, adding some cool freshness to the spicy dish.
However, for me, the star of the show is the Limbaga 77 Paella (Php1,277). Five people can share this hearty Filipino-Spanish masterpiece made with generous helpings of seafood – shrimp, mussels, clams and squid – as well as chicken, Spanish chorizo and hard-boiled eggs. It’s a good thing we foodies took a while in taking pictures of this dish together with the other viands served as the heated shallow pan the paella was served in gave the grains at the bottom a bit of a toasty crunch.
The desserts served also had interesting stories The Brazo Tableaand the Davao Tablea Cake, for instance, use cacao discs sourced from Davao, the country’s top producer and exporter of cacao, giving these confections a rich chocolate taste. (The cakes can be further improved to have a moist texture, though.)
If you ever wondered what other uses can there be for queso de bola beyond the Christmas season, look no further: Limbaga 77’s Queso de Bola Cheesecake has a sweet-salty flavor that will satisfy those who tire of too-sweet delicacies.
The classic chocolate mousse dessert also gets a local twist with the inclusion of native coffee to the Barako Brownie Mousse: the thick mousse is flavored with coffee and topped with rich powdered cocoa.
Here’s another trivia: Did you know that kapeng barakogot its name from varraco, the Spanish word for wild boar? In Spain, wild boar are very fond of eating the plant’s leaves and berries.
Two classic Filipino desserts were fused together in Bikoron: a mashup between the biko and turon wherein the mild-tasting kakanin is wrapped in lumpia wrapper, deep-fried and drizzled with a slightly sweet peanut sauce.
The last dessert served is the Perlas ng Mangga: the Philippines’ national fruit is given a backdrop of sweet cream and tapioca pearls.
Don’t think that drinks in this resto fall by the wayside: fresh and fruity blended concoctions were also served such as Lychee Grapes Shake, Minty Mango Watermelon and the Mabuhay Smoothie (coconut milk syrup with pineapple), each at Php177. I opted for the Grass Citrus Iced Tea (Php97), a refreshing brew of pandan and lemongrass with a hint of calamansi, to drink during dinner and a cuppa with baculicha, a sweetener often served with coffee in Vigan, after the meal.
For diners who want combinations of their favorites, Limbaga 77 now offers Bestseller Tandems at Php397 each. These include:
- Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing + Adobong Tadyang ng Baka + Garlic Rice
- Spicy Seafood Adobo + Adobong Tadyang ng Baka + Garlic Rice
- Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing + 1/4 Baby Back Ribs + Garlic Rice
- Spicy Seafood Adobo + Grilled Liempo + Garlic Rice
- Limbaga 77 Stuffed Laing + Toasted Vigan Longganisa + Garlic Rice
- Toasted Vigan Longganisa + Seafood Chopsuey + Garlic Rice
- Grilled Liempo + Seafood Chopsuey + Garlic Rice
Limbaga 77 is located at No 77 Scout Limbaga Street, near Tomas Morato Avenue, Barangay Laging Handa, Quezon City. It is open daily from 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm. For inquiries and reservations, call +63 926 715 6134 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit: Thanks to fellow foodie and flat lay slayer John Bunag for styling the flat lay of viands served.
Disclosure: Together with other Zomato foodies, I was invited to attend a foodie meet-up held in this restaurant. All the food items mentioned here were served to allow us to sample the fare and were not paid for by the attendees, including myself.
Check out my reviews of other Filipino restaurants:
- Gata, Tomas Morato
- The Lechon Shop, Tomas Morato
- Angus Tapa Centrale, Tomas Morato
- Gerry’s Grill, Tomas Morato
- Luna J Filipino Gastropub, Tomas Morato
- Gerry’s Grill, SM Marikina
- Bacolod Chicken Parilla, Tomas Morato
- Classic Savory, SM East Ortigas
- Jaytee’s Tagaytay
- Buddy’s, Cubao
- Cabalen, Ayala Malls Feliz
- Victorino’s, Tomas Morato