HOSTING too many Christmas get-togethers this year? Why not make life easier on yourself by just booking some of these parties at your favorite restaurants? This way, you won’t have to cook the food yourself, and that does not only save you a lot of time and effort but also allows you to relax and have fun at your own party.
Perfect for the occasion are the Salo-Salo Packages of M Café and Kabila for the holidays. Available until January 16, 2016, the Salo-Salo Packages showcase select signature dishes and new menu items meant to make Yuletide festivities unforgettable epicurean gatherings for family and friends.
With sets for 6 persons and sets for 10 persons available at Php550++ and Php650++ per person, respectively, these packages combine 10 to 12 menu favorites of both Museum Café (also known as M Café) and its adjacent Kabila Restaurant.
Along with a group of other food editors, writers, photographers and bloggers, my husband Raff and I got to try several dishes from the Salo-Salo Packages for dinner as a media preview.
Served first was palate pleaser Melted Quesong Puti, an appetizer served with toasts. It’s slices of quesong puti (white cheese) laid out side by side and melted to bubbly perfection. Take the melted portion of half a slice, spread it on a toast, and bite into it. It’s Chef Kalel Chan’s version of butter on bread or pate on crostini before the actual meal.
Next came Ensaladang Kabila, which offers a mélange of flavors consisting of ripe and green mangoes, turnips, pomelo, guapple slices, tomato salsa, salted egg and pili nuts, tossed in calamansi dressing and served with M bagoong (shrimp paste) on the side. The combination of textures and the presence of all flavors—particularly sweet, sour and salty—works wonders in the fresh salad. It also works up the appetite.
Dinakdakan, a regional dish made of pork belly and pig’s ears, never fails to satisfy meat lovers. The pig’s ears are fried to a crisp and then sliced into thin strips and combined with the pork belly, sprinkled with chopped spring onion and served with calamansi, siling labuyo and soy-vinegar dip.
Pancit Kabila is one of the best stir-fried noodle dishes in the metro. It’s served in a banana leaf pocket that reminds you of Lucban, Quezon’s Pancit Habhab. On top of the noodles is a huge piece of crispy pork, which, again, will make meat lovers happy although I, as a seafood lover, can do without it. My only complaint about it is that the portion is too small to share. I felt bitin, having to share the Pancit Kabila in front of me with four other people. So, if you order it, just remember to keep it to yourself or share it only with one other person.
French Beans Gising-Gising came next. It’s a gourmet version of the classic Gising-Gising, which makes use of Baguio beans. Others use the stems of kangkong, but it’s basically the same. The green beans are cooked with coconut milk and chili to give the dish a good kick. Chef Kalel simply elevated his version to gourmet level for M Café and Kabila by using French beans.
Bone Marrow Bulalo is the ultimate in indulgence. Not for the faint-hearted (nor persons with high cholesterol problems), this soup dish is awesomely flavorful. There’s corn, pechay, potatoes and cabbage in the soup, but the real reward is the bone marrow itself.
Also easily a big favorite among meat-loving Pinoys is the Pork Belly Roll, which is pork belly infused with lemongrass, tamarind leaves and garlic, and then slow-roasted until crisp.
Gindara Mayonessa is Chef Kalel’s answer to the classic Lapu-Lapu Mayonessa and Maya-Maya Mayonessa. A colorful rainbow of colorful ingredients, such as chopped eggs, capsicum, onion and pickle relish, tops the steamed whole fish spread with mayonnaise. Instead of the usual lapu-lapu and maya-maya, gindara is used for an even more exquisite dining experience.
Spicy Chicken Adobo sa Pula is the perfect accompaniment to hot, freshly cooked rice. Adobo being the quintessential national dish of the Philippines, it comes in different versions, including Adobo sa Puti and Adobo sa Pula. This is one of them.
Other savory dishes that are available in M Café and Kabila’s Salo-Salo Packages include Fresh Lumpia (an intricate lattice-style egg wrap filled with stir-fried palm heart, carrots, pork, shrimps and ground peanuts, served with a special lumpia dressing), Lengua Estofado (slow-cooked in tomato sauce, olives, mushrooms, chorizo and cream), Grilled Chicken Inasal (marinated in lemongrass-annatto oil, grilled, and served with chicken oil and papaya atchara), and Callos Español (a rich ox tripe and pork hock stew complemented with Spanish chorizo, chickpeas and tomatoes).
The Christmas Salo-Salo Packages likewise includes desserts, such as Suman Bibingka, Avocado Crush, Tropical Fruit Platter and Buko Pandan.
There are also Holiday Bake Sale Christmas treats that you can take out and enjoy at home or give away to family and friends as edible gifts–Holiday Revel Bars (Php150 per box of 3), Brownies Naranja (Php150 per box of 3), Yuletide Blondies (Php150 per box of 3), Lemon Tres Leches Pound Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Php400 per loaf), and Bacon Bourdon Cookies (Php80 per piece).
For inquiries, reservations or orders, call 656-3000 or 757-6000.