PenPen’s, the restaurant owned by indie actor Ping Medina, has found its way to a bigger space in Quezon City’s bohemian enclave, Cubao X. The Pinoy food haunt, which used to be located in the Tomas Morato area in Quezon City, closed its doors for a few months until they reopened here with a revamped menu. A bigger and brighter Penpen’s Filipino Kitchen Cubao X just got a facelift, and it begins at the entrance where the restaurant welcomes you with its large glass walls and color changing LED flashing lights. The restaurant serves “Filipino comfort food with a twist,” as described by actor Ping Medina, who named the resto after his dad, veteran actor Pen Medina.
The real crowd-drawer is the Eat-All-You-Can Pasta Weekends, where diners can stuff themselves with pasta for 300 pesos. What sets their pasta buffet apart is the sauces, which like everything else on the menu, are unusual twists with the Pinoy palate in mind. They have Penoy & Bacon Carbonara, Tinapa Flakes, Lucban Longganiza Meatballs, Malunggay Leaves Pasta in Pili Oil, and Pinggoy’s Pasta Aligue.
If you aren’t a pasta kind of person, Penpen’s is sure to have something you’ll like. From heart-attack appetizers like the Smoked Cheese Dynamita, the Isaw Chicharon with Pinakurat, and the famous Crispy Liempo to platters like the Three-Cheese Baked Bangus Belly and the Five-Way Adobo, PenPen’s is every health buff’s nightmare, and every Filipino foodie’s paradise.
For that night’s gastronomic adventure Mitch, Randy and I decided to order the Malunggay Leaves in Pili Oil pasta, Tinapa Flakes fried rice, Tokwa’t Bagnet (for that putok-batok experience!) and Three Cheese Baked Bangus Belly. It took a very, very, very long time for our orders to be completed considering we were the only customers inside the restaurant at that time. The pasta was served first. The Tokwa’t Bagnet and the Three-Cheese Baked Bangus Belly were served about 20 minutes after the pasta. The tinapa flakes fried rice was ordered after the main entree was served, so that was our fault it took them extra time to cook the food.
The Malunggay leaves in Pili oil pasta was blunt, not impressive. It didn’t had any distinct flavor, neither did it had that malunggay after taste. This is one pasta dish that I would not recommend for this restaurant, probably try a different pasta dish. So was the Tinapa Flakes fried rice. San banda ba jan ang tinapa flakes? That was the line that I uttered immediately after having a dose of the fried rice. It was just a plain fried rice with garlic, wasn’t able to see tinapa flakes. I should have gone with their plain rice instead. All the while I thought I was the only one who complained about the pasta and the fried rice, but it was good to know the other two friends also had the same complaints.
The Tokwa’t Bagnet, is an improved version of the staple Filipino dish tokwa’t baboy. The fried tofu is mixed with, instead of ordinary pork pieces, they use bagnet which gives it a delicious crunch. The garlic-soy dressing is served together with the tokwa’t bagnet, topped with succulent caramelized onion rings. Being a fan of tokwa’t baboy, this is a one dish that has never failed to impress me hahaha! Only this time, it came along with one of my favorite Ilocos’s secret – the bagnet.
When our table’s order of Three-Cheese Baked Bangus Belly arrived, I got excited. This dish combines everything I like – the fatty, gelatinous milkfish belly, topped with cheese (make that three kinds, please). People probably order this because it’s fish and by default it means less richer than most of the items at PenPen’s. But we’re not fooling anyone here – it may be baked but it’s lusciously coated with cheese. Leave your calorie counter outside, and check in that adventurous foodie in you – a bite of this rich and tender cheesy fish is definitely worth it.
Another trouble that I found for this resto, aside from the slow service, is that the food can be a bit expensive, with a price range from below a hundred to almost 400 pesos a dish. But, as the owner claimed, it’s a family-oriented place, so bring your folks and share the bill – and the experience of adventurous Filipino cuisine at PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen.
All in all, I was not convinced that PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen is a one great find for a gastronomic experience. It may probably be due to the choices that we had but then again, the price range did not justify the food taste nor the servings. Good thing I was with a great company – with Mitch and Randy – otherwise the evening would just as blunt as their Malunggay leaves pasta.