Sunday Dinner At PenPen’s

Sunday Dinner At PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen

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.

Malunggay Leaves in Pili oil pasta

Malunggay Pasta and Tokwa't Bagnet

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.

Tokwa't Bagnet

Tokwa't Bagnet and Three Cheese Baked Bangus Belly

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.

The whole entree. Take note of the 'happy' utensils, quite unique 🙂

The Verdict

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.

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Kawayanan Grill Station In Coron, Palawan

Kawayanan Grill Station Bar and Restaurant

I’ve read quite a few good reviews about this restaurant during the planning stage for visiting Coron town. Moreso it  is highly recommended by most of the people I asked around, matanong kasi ako! Kawayanan Grill Station is a garden restaurant popular to Palawenos especially to that of Coron. Noticeable about the place is that customers do have an option to chill out on monobloc chairs or hang out on one of their nipa huts. And oh, the main bar is also made out of I think kawayan, nipa and driftwood pieces. This grill station is strategically located along Don Pedro Street just beside the Coron Sports Complex and it can get pretty loud and noisy at this bar especially when there are town events being celebrated, like what we had experienced. The place is the Calamian version of Gerry’s Grill, too bad I’m not much of a fan of seafoods (gives me the allergies).

Before our meals were served

Aside from being a restaurant, bar and grill they also offer videoke services on one of  their private air-conditioned rooms charged at an hourly rate. At the farther end of the station, they have a small stage set-up with light fixtures used especially by bands for their live performances and jamming sessions. We were quite fortunate to have witnessed a performance from the Tribu Calamianen (a local indie/culture band) at this bar, it was an awesome display of talent and culture of the Calamians. That was on October 23, 2009 (which is actually one of the highlights of the Oktoberfest in Coron). Beside the restaurant is a small souvenir shop most probably also owned by the Kawayanan proprietors. I was told  that the bar’s whole concept was the brain-child of 4 friends wanting to venture into a restaurant cum bar business. Not a bad idea, I should say.

Hand-made shell lanters at Kawayanan Grill Station

A shot of the hand-made shell lantern from below

Served by the pitcher

Served by the pitcher

Enchanting

What I liked about this bar is its interior and the over-all feel of the place. The center of attraction for this restaurant is the hand-made shell lanterns that  hung all over the station which imbibes a mixture of homey/festive/native  ambiance to the place. Cool! Lights are dimmed to set the mood for chilling and relaxing. The choice of music has got that relaxing effect as well. Less, of course, the occasional sound from the private videoke room that they have.  As for the cocktails, the Kawayanan crew revs up a mean concoction of rhum, four seasons and generous helpings of fresh orange fruit which they proudly call as Coron Sling. It is served  at an affordable price of  Php380 per pitcher. Take note of the stirrer which also had hand made shell trinkets worthy of a souvenir of the place. Hmmm… Ramil was lucky enough to take home one of them actually! Aside from Coron Sling, they also can prep a good blow job for you. Guys, blow job, the cocktail! The crew prepared a nice warm blow job just for me hahahaha! Moreover, judging from their menu I noticed that they actually serve the cheapest San Mig Light from all the bars around Coron town.

The Coron Sling courtesy of eonphoto.org (thanks Rage!)

What I certainly loved most about the place is again the hospitality of the crew during our stay. We were treated with royalty for 3 nights in a row considering the place was flocked with customers at that time. We also had an opportunity to meet one of the 4 owners of the place, I think his name is John or Joseph, I forgot his name because the introduction was very brief.  He was quite busy entertaining other customers/friends and probably of brain-storming ideas with his wife (who is also a co-owner of the resto-bar). Nevertheless, the relaxing homey feel of the place combined with the warm hospitality of the people added to the already over-flowing positive experiences that I have had during my vacation in Coron, Palawan. Kawayanan Grill is also home to one of the most memorable experiences that I have had in my entire life.

Grilled fish with lato for Mona

Grilled fish with lato salad for Mona

Sizzling sisig and rice for Ian

Tapsilog for me

Kawayanan Grill Station is definitely a must-see and try while at Coron, Palawan. This is a place where the old can meet the new,  the convergence  of  people from all walks of life, and where all the nationalities speak of only one language that we all understand: HAVING FUN! Ambiance is perfect for night outs, music is soothing, food served is great, every serving is a value for money, nice crew; what more can you ask for? My verdict: Divine approved, all the possible thumbs up!!!!

Chillin' with friends at Kawayanan Grill Station

The Morbid Angel Dines At Sicilian Express

The Sicilian Express along Tomas Morato in Quezon City

The Sicilian Express along Tomas Morato in Quezon City

It’s a rainy night of July 30, 2009 when me, Johan, Shand and Nona went to The Sicilian Express along Tomas Morato in Quezon City. It was good to be back trudging along the busy street of Morato. The other establishments are about to close when we dropped by the small restaurant. There were only two customers at the time we walked in. As the rain drew to a stop, four others joined us inside the restaurant to get a fill of their Italian servings.

What I liked about the place is the fusion of pop culture with their yummy dishes. There are two pop photos displayed on their small white painted walls and they’re very amusing to look at.

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one of the amusing pop photos on the north side wall

the other funny pop photo on the south side of the wall with Johan

the other funny pop photo on the south side of the wall with Johan

I loved how the green-colored counter was mixed with the white walls and the amusing pop enlarged photos hanging on their walls. It was refreshing to see.

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the self-service counter

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mirrors are installed to make the place look bigger

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Chinese Feng Shui mixed with Italian specialty

I was kinda hungry so I had the regular cheese pizza. It’s a classic Sicilian 10″ thin crust pizza with creamy mozzarella cheese. When the pizza was served it made me more hungry than ever. The aroma of the melted cheese spread throughout the restaurant and I guess, the other customers were also enticed with it. Manginggit daw ba? As side dish I also ordered light and easy Caesar salad.  It is a salad with crisp greens tossed in Caesar dressing topped with bacon and cherry tomatoes. Yummy!

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creamy mozzarella cheese thin crust pizza

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crisp Caesar salad

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pizza and smokes, do they go together?

The place is small but very clean. I love the fact that we it’s self-service thereby lessening the cost of the food hehehe. The entire meal costs a whooping Php335 only, which can actually shared by two people. That’s how hungry I am.