Recipes by Cafe Metro (Trinoma)

“Let’s it at recipes.” Huh? My eyebrows went up when I heard, when I asked where we’ll have lunch, that we’re going to eat at recipes. It was Recipes, not the common noun with a small “r”, but a proper noun with a big “R”. It’s the name of the restaurant — Recipes, by Cafe Metro. I haven’t heard any review from this restaurant and, from the the name alone, I purposely set the bar of my taste bud to low. I didn’t want to be disappointed, just in case. But I was mistaken. Very mistaken.

Of course, only later did I learn that my initial misconception was wrong. The first time I heard about the name of the restaurant, and the first time I saw the restaurant, I nearly asked that we try something else.

Recipes restaurant in Trinoma is found at the second floor of Trinoma, in an area that is, I believe, not the usual path walked by hungry mall goers. It’s beside the escalator, at the with an entrance/exit leading to the open garden.

It’s appearance is bereft of clutter and highlights. Clean, simple and fits only around 20 people. The hunger was momentarily swiped off my mind as I tried to squeeze through the tiny space between tables, incessantly worrying about my butt grazing very closely at the face of the guest eating her lunch at the table beside ours.

The good thing about it, however, is that my thought did not wander back to how the food will taste.

The food was served quick. We ordered the bestsellers and we figured they have a supply of these bestsellers on standby because, well, they will be snatched fast anyway. Service was quick and came with a smile. Nice.

First came the Lechon Kawali with Kangkong. Interesting. This is the first time I’ve witnessed lechon kawali with — no, this has nothing to do with the kangkong — but with a bit of soup. Lechon kawali, for me at least, is on the dry side and definitely crunchy. The Lechon Kawali with Kangkong of Recipes, while delicious, is far from crunchy because of the sauce.

What’s more puzzling is the photo in the menu — there’s no sauce. The lechon kawali, as portrayed in the menu, is on a flat serving plate, arranged on top of the steamed kangkong. The one served to us, however, is served on a deep bowl, with the sauce making the lechon kawali really soggy. I’d like to think the kitchen did some shortcut with that.

Next came the plain rice, the Seafood Rice, the General’s Chicken and the Gising Gising. The Seafood Rice tastes good.

The Gising-Gising, sliced green string beans with coconut milk, also tastes good, but I was looking for that something which makes Gising-Gising the real thing (“gising” is Filipino word for “wake up”). As far as I understand, Gising-Gising is a recipe that should slap diners to full attention. People eating this food should be wide awake. Why? Because Gising-Gising, just like any cuisine from Bicol, should be, you guessed it right, hot and spicy. To be fair, the Gising-Gising of Recipes tastes good, but not hot and spicy.

Don’t let the discussion above discourage you. I’m not saying that the food doesn’t taste good. The food at Recipes do taste good. It’s just that other diners might have preferences in their food.

So far, if there is any common trend we’ve observed in the cuisine served in Recipes, it would be this: the food is soft, both in taste and texture. The nice-tasting Gising-Gising, which is traditionally hot and spicy, is not. The usually-crunchy lechon kawali is not crunchy. Even the Prawn Tempura is not crunchy.

Now, if there’s one item in the Recipes menu that we could recommend without fear of culinary wrath from the eating public, it’s the General’s Chicken.

First, the name. It would be very interesting to know the history of the cuisine’s name. It’s rare that we ask about the name because we usually go on our culinary trip with almost no clue that we are going to write something about the food/restaurant. We want to capture the food just like any member of the eating public would experience it.

Oh, going back to the General’s Chicken. Maybe it’s a recipe that is the favorite of some general. Maybe the name refers to the fact that the recipe was first served using a chicken owned by some general. We are clueless as to the origin of the name, but we now know it tastes really good.

The Recipes, an unassuming restaurant in an obscure corner of Trinoma (I heard there are other branches including Greenbelt 3 in Makati and Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong), serves good food. The food may not conform to the preferences of some hungry souls, but the food tastes good nonetheless. It’s worth exploring, really. Good luck.

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