Monday, February 27, 2012

Rub Me the Right Way

Any good businessman knows that in order to succeed, it is important to figure out what you love to do, and strive to be the best at it. In the restaurant business where it is easy for initially brilliant ideas to drown in the depths of mediocrity, this principle could not ring more true. I noticed how young restauranteurs get distracted by their need to be “different” or “avant garde”. “Think outside the box”, the marketing gurus say. But sometimes all it really takes is something familiar and homey, but expertly prepared that a bite of it makes your soul sing.

My love for baby back ribs- that smoked, juicy, fall-off-the-bone tender barbecue dish- has taken me one evening to Rub Ribs & BBQ at its original spot near Tomas Morato Ave. in Quezon City. Ever since that first bite, I have returned at least three more times until they finally opened a branch in Pasig, which is much more convenient for me. I love Rub, and I will tell you why.

I admire a good solid concept. It shows that the owners know what their strengths are and are willing to commit to it. The partners are young LSGH alumni, and one of them- Martin Kabigting- have actually gone on to major in HRIM at the DLSU-College of St. Benilde. His experience from working at hotel restaurants has given him the confidence and the know-how to open his own joint with friend Don Tayag of the famous Kapampangan foodie clan (think Trellis). Their vision is simple- to serve “stripped-down” comfort food in a casual setting. And this they are doing with panache.

The ambience of the Capitolyo, Pasig branch is clean and brightly-lit. Their lines are modern, but given a cozy mom-and-pop feel with chalkboards, a glass chiller, and kitchen napkins on the tables. It is quaint without being dingy, up-to-date without being clique-ish.

There is no doubt in the world that the star of the Rub Show is their barbecue ribs. Served for one, two or four persons, they are consistently moist, full of flavor, and unbelievable tender- all of the characteristics you would want to find in your ribs. Their baby back ribs are first seasoned with their dry rub, smoked (the way any self-respecting rib should be), and then cooked sparingly on the grill, basted with their signature barbecue sauce. The sauce is tangy and has deep aromas of woodsy herbs and spices, with a perfect balance of smoky and sweet. The results speak for themselves, which is why they are currently my favorite baby back ribs in Metro Manila. The side dishes are equally tasty- their sprice (spiced fried rice), mashed potatoes, and spinach and mushrooms are the more popular choices.

The appetizers are simple- something I imagine the boys would prepare during a drinking session after a pick-up game. Being a self-confessed onion rings maniac, I could not get enough of Rub’s version. Crisp, oily and salty- it’s what good onion rings should be. Dipped in their aioli sauce, it just makes sense to me.

A curious addition to their starters is the Pizzadilla- half pizza, half quesadilla. Two flour tortillas are stuffed with chicken or pepperoni, smothered with a cheesy cream of mushroom and peppers, and then baked with melted cheese on top. An abomination? Perhaps. But once you get past your predispositions about what a quesadilla (or a pizza, for that matter) should be, you just might like it for the freak that it is. We did- we smothered that sucker with Tabasco and wished they served beer. (Please serve beer. Please please please...)

Matt enjoyed the BBQ Beef Fingers, which is a great alternative for beef lovers (or for those who do not eat pork, like Matt). Smothered in the same BBQ sauce, the beef is deboned and extra-soft, the tendons gelatinous. It would have been better if they were actual fingers and not cubes, so that they can be picked up and gnawed on like a real rib.

We spied a pretty interesting dessert menu which included Coffee Crème Brulee and Fried Oreos, but we were set on having frozen yogurt after so those will have to wait another time.

And there will be another time. And another…

Rub Ribs & BBQ
88 East Capitol Drive
Capitolyo, Pasig City
Tel. no. (632) 6246850

64 Sct. Rallos St.
Quezon City
Tel. no. (632) 6226352

Friday, February 17, 2012

Recipes: Who's Up for Salted Duck Egg Pasta?

It seems unnerving but, believe me, it works. The first time I had salted duck egg pasta was at Margarita Fores’ now-defunct Pepato in Greenbelt 2. I was unyielding in my praise for it, and when that restaurant closed I believed that was it- goodbye forever. Then, I encountered a different version at Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza in Katipunan- Salted Egg and Bacon Pasta, which was equally rich and beguiling.

Salted duck eggs are commonly used in Chinese and Filipino dishes, imparting a brine-y aroma, with a smooth, creamy egg white and a hard, textured red-orange yolk. I grew up eating salted egg and tomato salad with silog dishes and grilled food, immediately putting my already hyperactive taste buds on overdrive. It is a bit of an acquired taste, but once you have it as accompaniment to the perfect dish, you’ll be hooked for sure.

And ever since I had a taste of it again in a pasta dish, I just knew I had to try making it at home. I chose to make the more “Matt-friendly” (read: no pork) Pepato version, but a more rustic take on the Fores original. Instead of thin sheets of papardelle, I used tagliatelle, and had my 5-year-old niece roughly break the asparagus apart instead of finely chopping them. Generous chunks of salted duck egg dot the dish- a salty treat for the fan that could not get enough. It’s exotic and looks impressive, plus it only takes around ten minutes to cook. What else could possibly be stopping you?

Tagliatelle with Onion Cream, Salted Duck Egg, Asparagus and Truffle Oil (serves 4 to 6)


250 g. Tagliatelle (or any flat pasta)
2 cups cooking cream
1 small white onion, finely chopped
A handful of baby asparagus, cut into 1 ½ inch pieces
3 salted duck eggs, (2 eggs mashed into a paste, 1 roughly chopped into cubes)
2 teaspoons truffle oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Grated parmesan, to garnish
Salt and pepper


-Cook the tagliatelle according to package instructions. When it says cook for six minutes, I usually do four or five.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and cook the onions in the olive oil. When the onions are translucent, toss the asparagus into the pan.
- Pour in the cream and mix in the salted duck egg paste. Lower the heat and season with nutmeg, salt (if needed, the eggs are already salty) and pepper. Let it simmer for two minutes.
- Toss the cooked pasta in the pan, top with the cubed eggs, and mix gently until the sauce is evenly integrated. Remove from the fire and then drizzle the truffle oil on top and mix.
- Garnish with some grated parmesan and serve immediately.