My mom taught me to cook at a young age. Hence, I am a self-proclaimed good cook. My sister, my cousin and sometimes my friends are my QA. FYI, they are still alive. 🙂 I like to add twist in the recipes my mom taught me or recipes I see from the internet. So when I eat out, I always prefer a restaurant where I don’t know how to cook their food. If its good then I will search for the recipe and try my best to cook it. That being said, I don’t go out to eat Filipino food.
However, my Indian friend who is not so fond of Filipino food wants to eat proper Filipino dish. He wants me to change his belief that Filipino food is just sugar. 😀 Since I have not been eating out in Filipino restaurants, this is a challenge for me. With the help of Zomato, one of the Top 5 Filipino restaurants in Dubai is Carinderia ni Tandang Sora. Before we drive to the place, I checked their menu on which food should I order that will suit his Indian taste buds. I decided to order Bicol delicacies such as Chicken Bicol Express and Laing. For the soup I will order Sinampalukang Manok since he likes Tom Yum Soup which is very similar to Sinampalukan.
When we arrived at the restaurant, I was fascinated how they named the menu. It shows a little of the Philippine History. The server thought I was Thai or Japanese. I regretted speaking in Filipino, I will discuss more details of it later. So we ordered what I planned to order with sago gulaman as our drink. This is a famous Filipino drink we often call us “Palamig” or refreshment. Its made of brown sugar, water, gelatin (gulaman), and tapioca pearls (sago). We immediately had our first sip when they served it. Sugar rush indeed. It was too sweet for me. I told my friend we have to wait for the ice to melt to lessen the sweetness just like in PH, but since we can’t wait any longer we just ordered water and add water in it.
Our food was served. I already gave my friend an introduction of what will we eat. We started with the Sinampalukang Manok, which is chicken and vegetables cooked in tamarind broth. The taste brings back home, my friend liked it too but he doesn’t like how it looks.
So I told him that Bicol is part of the Philippines where the main ingredient is chili and coconut milk. Bicol Express is a meat dish with small chunks of meat, creamy coconut milk, shrimp paste and lots of green chilies. It is best with pork, but since we are in Dubai we ordered chicken.
When it was served, I was surprised to see boned chicken. I thought it will be small cut chicken breast just as how I see it in PH with small cut liempo or pork belly. We had our first bite, the taste was rich but we didn’t like how it was presented.
Next is Laing, this I personally like. It is made of dried taro leaves, coconut milk and red chili. I cannot cook Laing. I have never tried since taro leaves are not readily available here in Dubai. My friend said Laing looks like vomit. I couldn’t disagree with him. hahahaha… I told him to have a bite,and he liked it.
Going back to what I said that I regretted talking to the server in Filipino, well he wasn’t very attentive as he was concentrated on just 1 table. We were sitting outside same as this table that he will not take his eyes off, so I was in the impression that he covers all the tables outside. We have to wait for another server to assist us. Maybe if he thought I wasn’t Filipino maybe we were given better service.
Place: I like the traditional setting of the restaurant, as it is showing our history.
Food: it was ok for a Filipino but not for non-Filipino. Since we are in Dubai, it will be best to make the food appealing to non-Filipinos as well both in the taste and presentation. Food represents our culture and tradition so it should show the best we can offer. It will be best for the servers to explain what is the dish the customer is ordering specially for non-Filipinos. Recommendations will be highly appreciated since they might not have any idea what to order.
Service: On the restaurant’s website, it says that “Carinderia ni Tandang Sora will showcase authentic Filipino food and world class hospitality from signature chef and your professional staff with an ambiance of Filipino heritage. This will be presented to other nationalities as a fresh and different idea, unique and interesting to their senses”. I am sad to say that I wasn’t impressed with the service. I didn’t see any hospitality or professionalism. I hope they improve on that.