While I truly appreciate modern Filipino cuisine where I like trying deconstructed traditional dishes such as the ones tried here, here and here, my parents and grandparents still prefer Filipino dishes cooked the same way as it was centuries ago.
Then we tried Abé, a traditional Capampangan restaurant operated by the LJC Group. We first visited Abé years ago when they opened in Serendra Piazza. Together with my grandparents, we ordered a couple of their house specialties and enjoyed it very much. I remembered trying to order their Pako Salad but it wasn't available then.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, I invited my family to dine at Abé once again it has been a while since we've been back and I truly miss their Lamb Adobo and Bamboo Rice already. I love the homey feel of their branch at the TriNoma mall where majority of the furniture pieces were made of wood and since our group is pretty big, we were given a round table which I guess should have made sharing the dishes easier compared to being in a long table. The only thing missing is a lazy susan and we'd definitely feel right at home. :P
While waiting for my family to arrive, Paul and I decided to share a bowl of Mungo Bean Soup (Php. 95). We both love mungo beans and truly enjoyed this soup probably because of the generous addition of pork cracklings (chicharon) on top. It was pretty flavorful and rich making us pretty please with our soup choice that evening.
Finally, everyone was done shopping that they all arrived just about the same time. Service was quick and in no time, our food came out one after the other. First came the Binukadkad na Pla-Pla (Php. 365) which was served with a small bowl of fermented rice with shrimp (burong hipon). I love this dish as the fish meat has been fillet and sliced open for easier consumption.
To make my dad and Paul happy, I ordered the Knockout Knuckles (Php. 555) as the two special men in my life just lovesss Crispy Pata (deep-fried pork knuckles). The crunchy skin, tender meat and lots of garlic bits on top, how else can they go wrong? Needless to say, this dish was pretty much wiped out and the bones brought home for my aunt's neighborhood doggies to enjoy as well.
My mom also ordered the Sinuteng Baby Pusit (Php. 160) which surprisingly became an instant hit that evening. Delicious baby squid sauteed in olive oil, garlic and chili turned out to be very fragrant and truly addicting that we just kept on getting more and more to go with our rice.
My Abé favorite is the Lamb Adobo (Php. 395). Introduced by my friend G when we dined at their TriNoma Mall branch years ago. I love lamb and this dish really left a good memory from the time I had my first taste of it till the day I went back for more. I remembered how tender the meat was, free of any unnecessary odor and the sauce had just the right amount of sweet-salty flavor that I really enjoyed.
Sadly though, it wasn't a very pleasant experience was not the case that evening -- the meat was okay but had a huge chunk of fat, the sauce was salty and quite oily and the huge garlic cloves barely added that much wanted flavor as I was expecting it to give. I'm not giving up on the Lamb Adobo though, maybe the chef just had a bad day with the lamb and I'm still hopeful it'll be better on my return.
Since our table was already filled with meat and seafood, I thought it would be nice to balance this out with some veggies. I ordered the Gule Magalang (Php. 220) which is very much like our regular Pinakbet (mixed vegetables cooked with bagoong) only the veggies are simmered and of course with the absence of the fermented shrimp paste. I find this dish very bland and judging from the leftovers that we got, it seems like no one enjoyed this very much as well. Will definitely try another vegetable dish next time.
We had the option to just order plain white rice but I just have to let my family try the Bamboo Rice (Php. 220) that I love so much. Encased in an oblong wooden container, the rice is cooked with shrimps, mushrooms and bamboo shoots. My amah (grandmother) enjoyed this and commented that it tasted very Chinese. Way to go Amah! It was indeed part of the menu under the "Old Chinatown" category. I first tried the Bamboo Rice when I dined at Lorenzo's Way and it was then that I found out that it was an Abé best-seller. Definitely a must-try!
Our total bill amounted to a little over Php. 2,000 which was pretty reasonable given that we ordered a feast and manage to even have some left-overs too! :) There were a couple of hits and misses but I'd say Abé can pretty much compete with the delicious Filipino dishes that our family used to enjoy back then.
p.s. I tried ordering the Pako Salad again but was told that it was still not yet available. I think they should consider removing this from the menu already.
Visit Abé at the 3rd level of TriNoma Mall, North Avenue in Quezon City. They also have a branch at Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. Call them at 901-5691. I truly recommend you make a reservation as the restaurant regularly gets filled especially during the weekends.