October 10, 2008
Scout Doctor Lazcano Street
Sacred Heart, Quezon City
A birthday dinner brought me to Bagoong Club, a place I was dying to try for quite some time now. I first saw Bagoong Club from a friend and fellow blogger Jen and wanted to try it ever since. My initial insight on the place was that it looked like a house that was converted to a restaurant. This was typical in these parts of the metro. Many little bars and restaurants stem from old residential establishments. One more thing that caught my eye was that it was packed! There were so many people eating inside given the fact that all around it, they had so many competitors. Nearby, a new restaurant opened that catered more to the masses and yet Bagoong Club was full. Good thing we made a reservation else we'd be waiting for quite some time to be seated. The celebrant had already ordered when we came to the restaurant and ordered he did:
Sizzling Sisig. A staple in Filipino dining and late night drinking sprees. Bagoong Club's version was not entirely unique. It seemed to be cooked the same method and served the same way like any other Sizzling Sisig dishes out there. I was surprised though when I tasted it. It was very flavorful and indeed different from other sisig's I've tasted. Maybe it was because of the fact that bagoong was added to the dish to add a bit of fishiness and saltiness to it. Funny how all the years I've been eating sisig and this was the first time that I got to try it with bagoong incorporated in it. It was definitely different. A dish that Bagoong Club can be proud of.
Crispy Pata. Another dish that is both a good viand for family gatherings and/or accompaniment to beer for alcoholics at the same time. Their version though was not that different. I've tasted better Crispy Pata dishes. The upside though was that it had the perfect combination of a crispy exterior and a soft and tender interior. So when you come to think about it, it was a good recipe for the Crispy Pata but it wasn't any different from the others I've tried. They should have amped it a little bit more with a secret ingredient or something.
Ginataang Kuhol. One of my favorite dishes in Filipino dining. BUT when I saw the dish, I was a bit heartbroken. I've seen the dish when I was checking out the restaurant's multiply account and was excited that the celebrant would order it. He did, and I was eager to get to pick the snails to get the meat out and to taste it. When it came to our table, there were no signs of the shells. The meat had already been picked and taken out. It was as if my world fell apart. Well not to that extent, but I was definitely disappointed. The very act of picking the meat from the shell was the whole concept of the dish and because they already did it for me, I was not able to experience that. GOOD THING the Ginataang Kuhol tasted awesome! Probably one of the best I've ever tasted. A definite must-try at Bagoong Club. I just hope they leave the meat in the shells next time for the customers to pick it by themselves (unless requested otherwise).
Laing. I love this dish because of the strong coconut milk taste and how it complements the taro leaves. How the leaves are soaked into the coconut milk and infused with it. Although I love this extreme infusion of flavors, I didn't quite like Bagoong Club's version of the dish. It was a bit too milky for me. It reminded me of a local sweet delicacy called yema. Don't get me wrong, I love yema but having my laing tasting like yema doesn't really arouse my palette. My companions liked it but I felt that it tasted too "coconutty". It didn't taste like a viand but much more like a dessert.
Grilled Squid. Bagoong Club had a different approach for this dish. Instead of stuffing the squid with onions, tomatoes, and chilis then grilling it, they did a sort of "open-faced" version of the grilled squid. They grilled the squid, chopped it, then topped it with the onion-tomato-chili stir-fry. Looking at it as it arrived on the table, I didn't quite recognize it right away until the waiter announced what it was. For me, I like the fact that they tried changing the look of the classic grilled squid BUT I'd prefer that they stick with the original presentation. It is much more appealing to the eye and it was the main "personality" of the dish. The squid was also a bit overcooked also so this dish wasn't quite that good for me.
Bagoong Rice. The dish was very good, flavorful, and sweet. I really don't eat rice that much but I did try this dish. I was happy with this dish because it was only flavored with bagoong and was not at all salty. Some of the Bagoong Rice I've tasted before had a really strong bagoong flavor and was really salty at the same time. It would act as a meal-in-one and it would limit your viand intake since the dish would present itself as both carbohydrate and viand already. Bagoong Club's version was made specifically as a carbohydrate and remained a good accompaniment for the other dishes. It still maintained its quality of being JUST rice.
Dinuguan. This dish is my favorite Filipino dish together with Bopis and I have high expectations for this dish anywhere I sample Filipino cuisine. It is not actually THE barometer for Filipino food like Adobo but it is a dish I always try as much as possible and whenever available for ordering. Sad thing though, I didn't like Bagoong Club's version. I thought that it was a bit too coagulated. Too grainy. Many people really don't like Dinuguan but with this kind of texture, I'd bet they'd despise it even more. The dish really disappointed me because it was too metallic tasting. Usually the metallic taste of blood and the gaminess smell it has is masked with herbs and vinegar but with Bagoong Club's version, I think they missed this. Maybe they tried making the Dinuguan their own but it just didn't work for me.
Grilled Tuna Belly. This was the BEST order of the night. The glaze used for the Grilled Tuna Belly was perfectly sweet and had strong flavors but it didn't drown the taste of the actual tuna meat. The fish was also grilled perfectly and was maintained moist and tender all throughout. There was also no fishy taste to it which was awesome. I tried looking for faults but the dish was simply perfect in my book. A little serving of bagoong was presented together with the tuna belly and you can opt to top it on the tuna belly as you eat it which works better for me. The others liked it without the bagoong topping though.
Bagoong Club has its ups and downs with the dishes that they have but that doesn't mean you should step away from trying it out. In fact, I really like the restaurant. It has a wholesome ambiance to it that I love. A breath of fresh air from the normal Grilla, Gerry's, or Dencio's. I definitely had a great experience at Bagoong Club and eating there with "family" was like icing on top of the cake. I just hope that they maintain the quality of their food and service, and eventually introduce new dishes once in a while to keep everything fresh.
Back at Yentafo Kruengsonge at Kallang Wave Mall
18 hours ago