Old meets new at M Cafe's Kabila

Posted at 11/12/12 5:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The people behind the famed Museum Café in Makati now has a Filipino bistro next door – and it’s aptly called “Kabila.”

The newest baby of Raintree Restaurants, named after the Tagalog word for “other side,” features dishes from different parts of the archipelago. Some were given a modern twist, while others were kept original and straightforward. Kabila’s tagline, after all, is “Fresh and simple Filipino flavors.”

While the flavors are simple, the presentation of each dish is always well thought out as Kabila aims to attract not only foreigners and artsy patrons at M Café, but also locals who want to go beyond the homestyle meals and “pulutan” (pica pica) served in most Filipino restaurants.

Must-try items

For starters, one can order the Malagos Cheese Platter, a cheese board with toasted kesong puti with butter and sugar, La Maria “Camembert” Queso Rustico, sugared pili nuts, dried mangoes and calamansi Palawan honey.

There is also a variety of vegetable appetizers such as sticks of green mango, singkamas (jicama) and guava served with three kinds of homemade bagoong (Balayan, spicy and bagon de gata); and Fresh Lumpia sa Kabila, which contains ubod (heart of palm), fresh garlic, ground peanuts, shrimp and minced pork.

Other snacks include the “M” Panada, Kabila’s take on the orange Ilocos empanadas which are stuffed with Vigan longanisa (native sausage), papaya, salted egg, vinegar and rock salt, and bite-size pieces of tapa (cured beef) and pork belly.

Main courses here are also aplenty, with one of the most popular being the bagnet, or deep-fried crispy pork which is popular in northern Philippines. Kabila also has a chicken version of the bagnet – it is fried in pork fat and served with a fried saba banana, pork liver sauce and banana ketchup.

Traditional dishes such as the kaldereta (a stew with meat, tomato sauce, potatoes, liver spread and beppers) also got a facelift with Kabila’s use of New Zealand lamb ribs and shoulders, twice-fried potatoes, Toscana farms bell peppers, black and green Giuseppe olives and Malagos Queso Rustico. Skewered and grilled meats, meanwhile, are served on a charcoal grill reminiscent of the good old days.

For dessert, Kabila offers the Leche Flan Turon, or spring rolls filled with native custard and served with a sauce made from the popular Choc Nut chocolate treat. There are also classic Filipino sweet drinks such as fresh buko juice, taho (silken tofu with tapioca pearls and syrup), sago’t gulaman and mais con yelo.

Being marketed as a nighttime hangout, Kabila also has several alcoholic drinks with local flavors such as the Gin Pom Pi, or pomelo-infused gin with cucumber and Palawan honey; Mangga at Guava, with blended green mango and guava-infused vodka; Libre Me or Don Papa rhum with pandan panocha syrup, Coke and calamansi; and the Juicy Fruit Mojito with Juicy Fruit-infused lambanog, pandan-infused rhum and fresh mint.

Kabila is located at the Ayala Museum Complex, Makati Avenue, Makati City. For reservations, call (02) 757-3000 or 757-6000.