Romulo Cafe has established itself as a fine Filipino restaurant serving up traditional local cuisine with a modern flair and with portions perfect for sharing. It was no wonder that it was an obvious choice for my dad to invite his foreign friends along to Romulo Cafe for our usual Sunday lunch.
Sinigang na Liempo
How can you not start a Filipino meal without the classic tamarind-based soup? The Sinigang with Liempo (P240)
had the right amount of sourness, and was wonderfully paired with well-seasoned pork slices. It was obvious how much we enjoyed it since it was empty after we were finished with the meal.
We also had the Gambas (P325)
as our starter, which featured large and juicy pieces of shrimp cooked wonderfully in oil and garlic. I loved how it was served with large pieces of green chili to lend it an extra spicy kick! I also loved how it could easily compete with its (more expensive) alternatives served as tapas in famed Spanish restaurants.
Chicken Pork Adobo Romulo Style
Another staple in any Filipino meal would be adobo, so we decided to order the Chicken Pork Adobo Romulo Style (P290)
. Sadly, I found the chicken and pork quite dry, since it wasn't bathed in the sauce. I also found the sauce itself to be lacking in flavor.
Tito Greg's Kare-Kare
Another disappointing order would be Tito Greg's Kare Kare (P450)
. I'm far from being a fan of Kare-Kare (I only grab a few spoons so that I can eat some bagoong without my mom accusing me of making 'papak'); however, judging from unbiased opinions from my family (who are fans of Kare-Kare) and by the fact that around half of it was left untouched, it was not that good. No offense to Tito Greg.
Mixed Bicol Express
Luckily, the other dishes made up for the less stellar ones. One of these would be the Mixed Bicol Express (P285)
which slightly deviated from the typical predominantly vegetable-filled dish. I loved how it was served with tender and tasty chunks of meat wonderfully bathed in a rich and delightfully tasting coconut sauce which had just the right amount of spiciness in it.
Crispy Pata Binagoongan
Another exquisite dish would be the Boneless Crispy Pata Binagoongan (P650)
which I adored. I love crispy pata, and I love bagoong so this dish was simply an innovative match made in heaven. I loved the tender and juicy pork knuckles, as well as its crunchy skin. However, it was the lovely play on the sweet, sour, and salty flavors brought about by its sauce and the bagoong which made it perfect.
Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno
Of course, the star of the meal would be its house specialty, Lola Virginia's Chicken Relleno (P615)
. An order doesn't seem to be enough since it only features only half a serving of juicy roast chicken, stuffed with some tasty ground pork, raisins, and chorizo. It's so good that you'll actually forget that it comes with a killer sauce! Sampling this dish alone was enough to make it worth it.
Nothing can ever quite complete a Filipino meal without rice (since no matter how much we deny it, rice makes everything taste so much better)! To make things more interesting, we decided to go with some Bagoong Rice (P145) and some Garlic Rice (P55/cup). The Bagoong Rice was superb, it came with fresh tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and strips of really good green mangoes. It definitely could stand on its own! The Garlic Rice was a bit of an upset since it lacked the fragrance and flavor of garlic; thus, defeated the purpose of it. At least though, we had a less overwhelming alternative to pair up with the tasty viands.
Overall, Romulo Cafe testifies to the art of Filipino cuisine. Sure, it had some misses; but the hits were more than enough to make you come back for more.
Date of Visit: 2013-09-08