Traditional Filipino favorites reinvented with a twist. That's Pino in a nutshell. And in one amazing dinner, I got to sample the full range of Pino's fun, playful and creative culinary style with flavors that are comfortingly familiar yet different, new and refreshing.
Pino has been transforming traditional Filipino dishes since 2008, updating old favorites with new flavors, textures and ingredients. And with a new branch in Makati, more diners can experience Pino Resto Bar's distinct and refreshing take on classic Filipino dishes.
Entering Pino Resto Bar, one immediately notices the clean, almost minimalist lines and contemporary feel of the establishment, yet the vibe is casual and pretty cool. An appropriate backdrop to the modern dishes and culinary style of Pino. And within Pino Resto Bar, one finds Pipino, offering vegetarian food with the same inventive flair. More on Pipino on a separate post...
As other bloggers arrived, starters were served. First up, the Crispy Hito Salad (P 195), crisp, deep-fried catfish with thinly sliced Indian mangoes, cucumbers and mixed greens with Thai vinaigrette. Once mixed, the sweet and sour notes blend with the crunchy catfish and crisp greens, a great way to start any meal at Pino Resto Bar.
Then, the Spiced Sweet Potato Chips (P 160) came next, hand-cut spiced fried sweet potatoes with honey mustard dip. Another delicious blend of sweet and spicy flavors, the common and familiar sweet potato with a twist. Nice.
Next up, another old favorite in a refreshingly new execution, the Mini Sisig Tacos (P 225), crisp tacos with pork sisig, lettuce, fresh tomato salsa and cheese. The vegetables and cheese work well with the sisig, and you simply just can't stop after enjoying one or two mini tacos. And again, Pino Resto Bar successfully pulls off another cool twist on an old favorite.
A new personal favorite came next, Buffalo Chicken Skin (P 145), crisp chicken skin coated with special Buffalo-style sauce, served with blue cheese dip and celery sticks. The familiar and delicious spice of buffalo wings without the chicken, just the skins. Very Cool. Even better with a few beers...
Then the mains arrived, starting with the classic Binakol (P 285), a chicken tinola soup with buko juice and papaya, not too sour with rich subtle flavors. A comforting and hearty dish, another classic updated with Pino's unique style.
Another traditional dish came next, Kansi (P 345), tender beef cubes in a sour broth with roasted beef marrow. The sharp, sour notes of the richly flavored broth is deliciously balanced by the equally rich marrow, a perfect pairing. More surprises await as the next dishes arrive...
Pino's signature dish, Kare-Kareng Bagnet (P 565 for family swerving, P 255 for single), crisp pork belly with annatto peanut sauce and bagoong rice, simply the best Kare-Kare I've tried. The use of crisp bagnet makes this totally different from the usual soft ox-tail kare-kare one is familiar with, and this dish best captures the culinary style of Pino, weaving in delicious surprises and cool twists on traditional dishes.
Different bowls of rice were served to go with the mains, with the fragrant steamed white rice to the richly flavored bagoong rice and sweet mango rice.
And Pino's surprising combinations of flavors and textures continue as the next round of dishes arrive. Binusog na Pusit with Kesong Puti (P 245), grilled squid stuffed with goat cheese and mango salsa with soy-vinegar dip. Not your usual grilled squid, the addition of kesong puti makes this a totally new and refreshing dish. Perfectly grilled, the squid is soft and tender, with its subtle briny flavor richly enhanced by the creamy and lightly sour goat cheese, and the sweet mango salsa. Another winner.
Another classic dish with a refreshing twist comes next, the Adobong Sarsi with Egg (P 225), chicken adobo with Sarsi and egg. The addition of Sarsi adds that nice, sweet sarsaparilla flavor to the usual soy adobo sauce and the egg just completes the dish. This is definitely one very cool adobo.
Then, Bistek like no other, Coffee Crusted Beef Belly (P 265), slow-roasted US beef belly with coffee spice served with marble potatoes, bistek gravy, and red wine onion marmalade. The combination of coffee and red wine onion marmalade simply elevates the usual bistek to an entirely new level. Innovative, playful and refreshing, another dish that best describes Pino's unique approach to traditional Filipno cuisine. Definitely part of my list of favorites.
And finally, Pino's Seafood Kare-Kare (P 495 for family serving, P 225 for single), assorted seafood including mussels, tilapia, shrimp and squid with Pino's signature Kare-Kare annatto-peanut sauce. Classic comfort food, retaining traditional flavors with a refreshing combination of ingredients.
And why not check out Pino's range of cool beverages, like Pino's Flavored Beers (P 95), in Green Apple, Strawberry, Watermelon, Honeymansi, Lychee, and Peach. Great with dessert.
I go for the Green Apple, and the sour and sweet apple notes go well with the familiar beer flavor, very refreshing. And again, one can see Pino's playful approach to combining different flavors in their menu, including beverages. But there's more...
What better way to cap a perfect meal at Pino than with its unique signature desserts, starting with the Chunky Choco Tempura (P 125), chocolate wafer dipped in tempura batter, deep-fried and served with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate and strawberry sauce.Deep-fried KitKat with ice cream, awesome.
Another traditional dish with a twist, the Choco Turon (P 125), sliced banana and chocnut in spring roll wrappers drizzled with chocolate, served with ice cream. Chocnut in a turon? Perfect.
Dulce de Leche Cheesecake (P 150) cheesecake with dulce de leche topped with chocolate covered cherries, chopped nuts, chocolate shards, and drizzled with chocolate syrup. Rich, indulgent, and beautifully plated, this one tastes as good as it looks. Seriously.
And finally, Mango Sans Rival (P 165), sweet butter cream coated crispy meringue with dried mango bits. Rich, creamy and chewy, with the sweet mango adding another delicious layer of flavor to the Sans Rival, rounding out Pino's dishes combining surprising flavors and ingredients. Excellent dishes from appetizers to desserts.
Special thanks to Chef Ed Bugia for an awesome dinner. Rediscover the best of Filipino food with a fresh perspective, and find your new favorites at Pino Resto Bar.
Pino Resto Bar is located at 38 Jupiter Street, Brgy. Bel-Air, Makati, or call 441-1773 for inquiries. You can also visit their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/PinoRestoBar.
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