Friday, March 24, 2017

A Taste of Feel Good Food at Bistro United

If there's one thing that brings people with varying opinions together, it's good food. And if you're talking about "feel good food," there's Bistro United by The Round Table in Kapitolyo...

Everything you loved about The Round Table, from their signature Roast Beef, Adobo sa Mangga, Q Salad, Carrot Cake and more can now be found, rediscovered, and enjoyed once more at Bistro United by The Round Table.

Located along United Street in Kapitolyo, the appropriately named Bistro United by The Round Table brings back comforting neighborhood style casual dining with its brand of "Feel Good Food." The spacious interiors with its rustic and minimalist theme is the perfect stage for its hearty cuisine...

Chef Mia K. Capay (L) redefines comfort food by infusing a uniquely local Filipino ingredient in each of the signature dishes at Bistro United, building on the all-time favorites from The Round Table (for more on The Round Table, see my previous post from two years back, An All-You-Can-Eat Tasting Session at The Round Table).

A refreshing carafe of Basil Lemonade (P 199) starts off your dining experience at Bistro United by The Round Table, mildly sweet and soothingly tart, opening up your palate for the comforting dishes by Chef Mia. It's the playful and inventive infusion of local ingredients to familiar dishes that makes each dish different and even surprisingly new, like the Grilled Cheese Dunkers (P 155), panini-style pressed kesong puti sandwiches served with a comforting bowl of homemade tomato soup drizzled with pesto oil. The perfectly toasted and pressed sandwiches bursts with a familiar richness from the local cottage cheese, amplified even more when you dunk it in the home-style tomato soup with its vibrant flavors. Dunking the kesong puti sandwiches is all part of the fun, just the way "feel good food" should be.

The Crispy Ubod Salad (P 125), described by Chef Mia as the "salad for non-salad eaters," is another innovative dish inspired by local flavors. The unique salad includes a healthy mix of coconut palm, carrots, squash, and kamote beans topped with layers of deep-fried wanton crisps draped in a tart balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with candied Iligan nuts. You can enjoy your vegetables with an added twist, a reflection of Chef Mia's creative culinary style.

Simply pour the balsamic vinaigrette and mix it up, and prepare for bold flavors with a delectable crispness. The vegetables deliver a mild sweetness along with a fresh snap, followed by the crispy wantons and the sharp vinaigrette to complete the flavors. And it works. Think of it as your favorite lumpiang ubod in a salad. And just like many of the dishes at Bistro United, you'll find the infusion of local and regional ingredients adding that extra flavor to the dish.

Even a traditional salad gets the special touch by Chef Mia. The signature Q Salad (P 215), a mix of fresh greens with bacon, croutons, Parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, and dalandan gets a flavorful punch with the Caesar dressing infused with Bagoong Balayan, a native fish paste from the south, replacing the usual anchovies in the traditional Caesar salad. The tartness of the cherry tomatoes and sweetness of the dalandan combine for rich layers of flavors, capped by the bacon, Parmesan cheese and the unique Caesar bagoong balayan dressing for another unique spin on a classic.

Bistro United also offers other tasty starters like the Nacho Poppers (P 105), with savory adobo-marinated minced pork topped with ripe mango-tomato salsa drizzled with Bagoong Balayan, paprika, and sour cream on crispy cup-shaped wontons. The comforting familiar notes of the adobo flavored pork is tempered by the sweet and mildly sour mango-tomato salsa, with the distinct salty notes of the bagoong balayan adding even more flavor. The sour cream rounds out the flavors, and you'll definitely go for seconds and thirds. 

The UPS, or United Pound Sampler (P 255), offers a trio of house sliders with Bangus Teriyaki, Spiced Salmon, and the signature Grilled Roast Beef, all in one dish. Each with its own unique flavors, the Spiced Salmon and Bangus Teriyaki delivered rich and savory notes, just some of the flavorful surprises at Bistro United. Have the grilled roast beef slider last, and end with a taste of the all-time favorite from the early days of The Round Table.

But Chef Mia has even more flavorful surprises to share, like the Bagnet Ravioli (P 245), fresh homemade pasta filled with bagnet and sisig spices sprinkled with chicharon bits, available in a choice of olive oil base or creamy aioli sauce. I recommend you go for the olive oil base to best enjoy the pure flavors of the bagnet sisig, and don't forget to sprinkle some crunchy chicharon to complete the flavors. In between courses, Bistro United serves a shot of homemade orange slush made from fresh oranges to cleanse the palate, just what you need before the main courses...

The starters and salads offered pleasantly flavorful surprises, but you can expect even more from Chef Mia's innovative yet comforting mains, like the Dalandan Chicken with Ube Rice (P 245), tender grilled chicken marinated in spices and pressed dalandan served with flavorful ube (purple yam) rice and tart dalandan sauce. I've never seen or tasted a dish like this before, and you can find it here at Bistro United...

The dish exemplifies Chef Mia's approach to flavors, weaving contrasting notes in a seamless blend for a new flavor experience. And the best way to enjoy this dish is having all the components in one spoonful, with a slice of dalandan marinated chicken, the purple yam rice, and the dalandan sauce to experience the savory, sweet, and sour notes all together. The seemingly contrasting flavors pair well together without overwhelming the other for a delicate balance. Definitely different, and a must-try at Bistro United.

Everyone loves fried chicken, and Chef Mia understands this so well. Her Buttermilk Fried Chicken (P 295), is an homage to the all-time classic, refreshed with her own creative spin. Tender and juicy boneless breast and thigh battered and fried to crispy perfection, it just can't get better than that. But add one of the three sauces, the Secret Sauce, Hot Damn Sauce, and Au Jus Gravy, and it does get a whole lot better. Each sauce gives it a unique flavor profile, from the sweet and sour Secret Sauce, the spicy kick of the Hot Damn Sauce, and the richness of the Au Jus Gravy for traditional flavors. You can enjoy different flavors by simply switching sauces. And here's a cool tip, try combining the Hot Damn Sauce, made with fresh labuyo, and the Secret Sauce...and enjoy. 

Building on the Buttermilk Fried Chicken idea with three sauces, Chef Mia's equally rich and savory Bacon Liempo Adobo 3-Ways (P 215) lets you enjoy it in different flavor variations. The juicy slab of grilled liempo is already great on its own, but it gets better with the three sauces representing the regional variations of adobo, including Adobo sa Dilaw, Adobo sa Gata, and Adobong Tagalog. And like the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, each sauce adds its own unique flavor to the bacon liempo, from the turmeric-infused Adobo sa Dilaw sauce, the creamy Adobo sa Gata with coconut milk, and the familiar vinegar and soy sauce blend of Adobong Tagalog. All these flavors in one dish make this another satisfying meal at Bistro United.

And here's more pork love. Bistro United's Porchetta Kare-Kare (P 345) is guaranteed to satisfy any serious craving for pork, combining a crunchy rolled slab of pork with kare-kare, always a winning combination. With a hefty slice of crispy roast rolled pork served with vegetables in a rich kare-kare peanut sauce served with a side of bagoong, go ahead and order that bowl of extra rice. Seriously.

The rolled pork is perfectly crisp, delivering an audible crunch with every bite. The thick peanut sauce adds to the savory richness of the dish, capped by the subtle sweetness of the vegetables and sharp notes of the bagoong. I've always enjoyed kare-kare, and this dish made me love it even more. Extra rice? Absolutely.

No meal at Bistro United is complete without their signature roast beef. The Amazing Roast Beef (P 415), a thick slice of US Prime Roast Beef Belly marinated in their signature spice blend and slow-roasted for six hours served with au jus gravy, steamed rice or mashed potatoes, is another favorite at Bistro United. It's the dish that made The Round Table a popular dining destination in Kapitolyo two years back, and it's the dish that will make Bistro United a new favorite. Fork-tender and juicy, it's beef in its purest, simplest and tastiest form, masterfully created by Chef Mia and her team at Bistro United.  

After a satisfying meal, be prepared for another flavorful surprise from Bistro United's indulgent desserts. You can always have a scoop of ice cream, but why not dare yourself to try something totally different?

And if you're game, Chef Mia has the right ice cream just for you. The Tilapia Ice Cream (P 55/scoop) is not your usual ice cream, with its blend of fish, cream, and chili flakes, but it is an experience in itself. The creamy white fish absorbs all the rich notes of the of the cream, resulting in an indulgent ice cream creation, tempered by the soothing heat from the fresh chili flakes. There is a fine, grainy texture from the fish that almost tastes like cheese, but there's absolutely no cheese in this ice cream, it's all tilapia. And Chef Mia does it again, with yet another flavorful surprise to cap a sumptuous meal at Bistro United. Give it a try, and who knows, you might even find this one more reason to visit Bistro United. Again.

Give in to your chocolate cravings with Bistro United's sinful Chocolate Brownie, perfectly moist and fudgy with a lightly chewy and crisp top...

...or the equally decadent Gold Medal Carrot Cake (P 175) with layers of velvety smooth cream cheese to end your feast on a sweet note. It is, after all, feel good food, so just go with the flow and enjoy.

Bistro United brings back the simple yet comforting pleasures of the casual neighborhood bistro with its repertoire of comfort food, or as they like to describe it, "feel good food." Mark it as another must-try dining destination in Kapitolyo, and you'll be glad you did.

Bistro United by The Round Table is located at Ground Floor of D-Strip Building, 20 United Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City or call (02) 706-1668 for inquiries.

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