Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bagoong in the name of LOVE

I can't believe we're reaching the end of another month and moving on to sunny summer March!

February has been short and sweet. Called the love month, this is when the world celebrates Valentine's Day, a day when couples would give extra time and effort in showing their affection to one another.

This year's pre-Valentine's Day dinner was spent in an old Filipiniana house where we sat on sturdy wooden chairs and ate on an equally sturdy wooden table. The specialty? Salty shrimp paste that comes in different varieties!

Welcome to the Bagoong Club.

Our Club Initiation

Paul loves Bagoong as he eats this together with a couple of his favorite Filipino dishes while I, on the other hand, tends to be more picky about it. I guess it is because of his fondness for the shrimp paste that he booked us a table at the Bagoong Club one Friday evening.

The service was superb as our order taker patiently introduced us to their best-selling dishes and even gave his personal recommendations. After giving him our orders, he served us with a plate of sliced turnip or locally known as singkamas together with a small saucer filled with two types of bagoong: Bagoong Umaga (shrimp paste with chili) and Bagoong Asya (shrimp paste with Asian flavors and spices). Admittedly, I'm not a fan of chili and spicy sauces but I liked the Bagoong Umaga better because it gives that sudden kick as I bite into my piece of juicy singkamas.

Next came our vegetable dish called Okoy (Php. 190). Typically, Okoy is a round, deep-fried treat that is made out of papaya, bean sprouts and shrimps. For me, it is the Filipino version of Vegetable Kakiage.

In Bagoong Club, our friendly server arrived with a tall vegetable tower of sliced carrots, potatoes, onion leeks and shrimps. We were surprised at the size and even had to stop for a while to think how to eat it. Eventually, we resorted to using our hands as we dip bite-size pieces of the Okoy into their house vinegar.

The Club Induction

We were having a great time enjoying the Okoy when our main dish was served. We got the Kare-kare Combination (Php. 360) which I think is the perfect solution whenever you can't decide if you want to have meat or seafood in your Kare-Kare. This dish is a local stew that is made from peanut sauce which normally contains ox tripe, ox tail and vegetables. There are also a lot of varieties in the market for those who would prefer to have their Kare-kare with seafood, pork or vegetables.

Bagoong Club's Kare-kare Combination is served with a generous serving of beef, seafoods, chicken and vegetables. This is perfectly paired with steaming rice and of course bagoong.

Official Bagoong Club Member

To complete our Bagoong Club experience, we got the Bagoong Sampler (Php. 100) which has the remaining four other bagoongs in the menu: Bagoong Lipunan (shrimp paste with alamang), Bagoong Buhay (shrimp paste infused with coconut milk), Bagoong Club Special (a mixture of the restaurant's special shrimp paste with their secret ingredient), and my favorite, Bagoong Europa (shrimp paste with pesto).

We had a wonderful time at the Bagoong Club and we can't wait to go back, this time we'll make sure to leave some space for dessert. After all, the restaurant is owned by the Sevilla family which has Chef Pixie Sevilla in charge of the cakes -- too bad, we were so full to try their Calamansi Torte which I've been hearing a lot of raves about.

Bagoong Club is located at 122 Scount Dr. Lazcano, Sacred Heart, Quezon City (near Tomas Morato). You may call them at 929-0544 or 929-5450 for reservations.

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