Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adobo Reflections and the Magic of Adobo Connection

After a very good massage yesterday, I decided to cap that night with an equally good dinner.

Alas! There’s a newly opened restaurant in 500 Shaw Zentrum Building in Shaw Boulevard, just a few blocks away from the office. No need to search for a place any further.

Adobo Connection is located at G/F 500 Shaw Zentrum Bldg., Shaw Blvd., Pleasant Hills, Mandaluyong City.

When I entered, I was greeted with smiles by the two ladies at the counter. As usual, when it’s my first time at a restaurant, I always ask the one-million dollar question, “Miss, ano ‘yung bestseller?” (English: Miss, what’s the bestseller?) Impressively, the shorter lady answered me quickly, “Sir, you may try our Modern Adobo or Kuya’s Adobo. Both are bestsellers.”

My eyes darted from her to the wall on my right filled with the pictures of their main adobo dishes. Kuya’s Adobo. Modern Adobo. Adobo Flakes. Mama’s Adobo. Mestizang Adobo. Adobo Sa Gata.

The Adobos on the wall of fame.
(Drool. Drool.) There was a kind of churning in my insides. Adobo is such an irresistible Filipino dish. I don’t know what kind of magic  it possessed when it was just a very simple dish to cook. I remember during my days in Shanghai last 2010, our friend Kento, a Japanese, went crazy over Adobo that he insisted to let us teach him how to cook it. When he learned and we were able to taste his own version of the dish- BAM! It was an instant hit! His secret ingredient?

The powerful Japanese sake!

Kento san with friends from Shanghai and his own version of Adobo with Sake.
[Photo courtesy of Sol Capala.]
Going back to the restaurant, I think the slogan said it right. Adobo Connects Us All. Adobo did not only connect the 7, 107 islands of the Philippines as well as the, perhaps, more than 7, 107 original home and restaurant recipes inspired by it. In our case, Adobo also became our token of friendship that helped us connect the to world. Our unforgettable bonding moments with Kento san in Shanghai won't never be the same without Adobo.

Anyhoo, I finally gave in to the persuasive powers of the lady in the counter. “One Modern Adobo please.” I fell further to her up-selling powers when she said, “Sir, would you like to try our veggies? We have Gising Gising and Poqui Poqui.

Po-what?” I said. “Poqui Poqui, sir,” the persuasive counter-lady said. “OK. I’ll get that one,” I said. I don’t know exactly what the dish is but I got it for the sake of trying. So I went to the table and my! I’d say the maximization of the space inside the restaurant as well the quality of the wooden chairs are nice! The restaurant looked clean and new. That’s the beauty of being one of the first few customers. (The restaurant was just about a week old.)

Adobo Connection at 500 Shaw Zentrum is the newest branch up to date.

Not more than ten minutes passed, the dishes arrived. The two both looked and smelled exciting. Tadaaa!

Modern Adobo (solo) is at PhP129.00. It comes with an iced tea drink.

Oh my! This Modern Adobo was right to be elected as the resto’s bestseller! It was a feast to the taste buds! And it wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill Adobo. It was a little spicy (which I really like, just right), sweet (which I adored), herb-y (which made it super unique) and there are some nuts too (for extra kick)! By the way, I am so sure I tasted chili powder and thyme and maybe a little bit of rosemary on that dish. Yum!

Just add PhP30.00 for every set meal to get a serving of Poqui Poqui .

I was just a little bit disappointed with my Poqui Poqui though. It turned out Poqui Poqui is a grilled and marinated eggplant that is chunked sautéed in eggs and spices. It was a little cold when it was served and I realized, I really didn’t like my eggplants mashed. I mean, I like eggplants that’s why I got Poqui Poqui but I realized I just like my eggplants fried- nothing else. Just a matter of personal preference.

Bless my soul, after finished eating, I went to the counter again to chit-chat a bit with the counter-ladies about the other dishes and to my delight, I found my queries being answered by the Business Development Manager of the restaurant himself, Mr. Rico Orosa! Mr. Rico is actually working for FNVA Asia Inc., creators of Bed bars and Fusion cafes-and this one, Adobo Connection. I commended him and his team for coming up with such a good concept. This Adobo restaurant.

He went on sharing with me that the restaurant started last November 2010 and that on that very day, I was standing right inside their 9th branch, a franchised one, which was on a soft opening. The recipes in the restaurant were shared by the owners’ friends and friends of friends as well as of the chefs that they hired. Amazing, eh?

I went out of the restaurant feeling good that night. First, a good massage. And then topped by an extremely satisfying dinner at Adobo Connection. That night, I was able to reminisce a bit about my life in Shanghai and my life with some of my fun foreign friends like Kento, who fell in love with a just simple Filipino dish. I also found myself thinking about home and family a bit too. Adobo is such a common home-cooked dish in the Philippines. A lot of family conversations occurred over it. And so a lot of family bonding moments revisited my mind.

For me, Adobo was a kind of dish that you can cook and eat by yourself anywhere in the world and then suddenly, you will be back home. It was a dish so simple but had won the hearts of many- Filipinos or not. It was a dish most commonly shared by family and friends on the dining table- along with some good conversations and fun bonding moments. It was a dish perfected by time and enriched by the different ways of life existing within the archipelago. To this, I can call it the National Dish of the Philippines! Why not?

After all, the restaurant slogan was correct, Adobo connects us all.

Address: G/F 500 Shaw Zentrum Bldg., Shaw Blvd., Pleasant Hills. Mandaluyong City
Contact: [02] 861-3375
Facebook: Adobo Connection

Email: markjosephdelgado [@] ymail [.] com
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