Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kebabs You'll Love

I like to think that I am the foodie in my marriage, although Matt has introduced me to a few culinary gems.  One of them is kebabs. Persian or Turkish, these delectable grilled meats- seasoned with exotic spices and classically-accessorized with tomatoes and onions- have become one of our regular cravings.  Quezon City and Pasay have Mister Kabab, while Malate has Shawarma Snack Center.  But, unfortunately, Makati is short of a good, reasonably-priced, neighborhood kebab joint.
That was until we discovered Combos Bread Company: Bakery & Café.  I caught a glimpse of their Iskender Kebab on Instagram which was posted by a friend and fellow Makati resident.  I showed Matt the photo and I knew that it would not be a hard sell.  Soon enough we were at the cozy restaurant, checking out their concise food menu.

The eatery is a house which was converted into a restaurant, bedecked in pricey-looking rattan chairs and clumsy knickknacks.  The owner- a tall, lanky Turkish man with an easy, sincere smile- is sometimes found chilling out front if he’s not in the kitchen preparing dishes.  Apparently, he is an experience baker, hence the name of his establishment.  Knowing this, it was a sin for us to not have ordered his baguettes.
These baguettes were sliced and doused with a flavorsome tomato sauce under the Iskender Kebab- thinly sliced lamb with a huge dollop of homemade yogurt.  An ideal dish for sharing, this was served to us relatively mild so we asked for their hot sauce.  Problem solved.

Matt and I shared the Beef Kebab which was served in their signature baguette- and it was pure goodness.  The seasoned (and oh so juicy) ground beef are grilled on skewers, then served in a crispy baguette with tomatoes, onions and a slathering of garlic yogurt.  This is, by far, “the best kebab in Manila” according to Matt.  Not like his beloved doener from Germany (thanks to their Turkish immigrants, of course), but he is smitten with Combos kebabs, nonetheless.

I tried their Beef Shawarma, which was also served in their delicious bread.  The garlic yogurt is not as strong as the ones I am used to, but what I noticed is that with every bite comes a fresh layer of flavor, which I think showed technique and finesse.  You don’t get that in kebab joints too often.
There are still so many interesting dishes to try, like a Chicken Kebab Pasta (!) and their Baklava, which was out of stock.  Just a tiny warning: service is quite slow when they are packed, so if you don’t have the patience, come at an odd time.  But I assure you, like all good things, it will be worth the wait.

Combos Bread Company: Bakery & Café
Kalayaan Ave. corner Matilde St. (beside Grilla)
Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City
Tel. no. (632) 553 5571

Friday, May 11, 2012

Quick Bites: Chinky's Batchoy

My notes on my Bacolod food trip have been long delayed. But now that my cravings for delicious Negrense dishes keep pawing at me like a restless puppy, I suddenly have the sense of urgency to write about it. It’s like therapy I suppose. Whether it will help me get over these yearnings or actually worsen them, we’ll find out soon enough.

 The object of my desire as of late is Batchoy (originally from La Paz, Ilo-ilo)- that steaming bowl of noodles in chicken broth, topped with pork organs, cracklings, scallions and- for the “special” version- a raw egg. The aroma and dense richness of the broth is a full-on attack on the senses, making this one of my favorite soup dishes of all time. Therefore, when I went on my first trip to Bacolod a month ago with Matt and our host Marky V., I knew I just had to try their batchoy, thinking that its proximity to La Paz definitely gives their versions an edge over the Manila variety.

 Yes, I did try 21’s batchoy. Unfortunately, no, I did not particularly like it. It could have been an off day for them, wherein their kitchen churned out a product that was both lacking in taste and presentation. But, instead of wallowing in disappointment, I just shrugged my shoulders and trudged on to the next exciting meal.

 Fast forward to the day of our departure, wherein we found ourselves in a fast food joint called Chinky’s. My husband- the little pervert that he sometimes is- thought it would be a clever play on words to say that he has “eaten at Chinky’s”. Since we had time to spare before lunch, Marky and I decided to indulge his juvenile request and stopped at the fast food joint at the ground floor of a low-rise building. The menu board offered little variety, so we zeroed in on my favorite bowl of noodles.

 When our food came, we were pleasantly surprised by the presentation- firm noodles soaked in glistening hot soup, topped with big chunks of chicharon and a fresh-looking egg with a beautiful, bright-orange yolk. The flavors were spot-on, just how I imagine good batchoy would be. We polish off our bowls in no time, happy, yet stunned by our discovery.

 Don’t be fooled by the fast food set-up and odd menu- Chinky’s has really good batchoy.

Po Hang Bldg. 
Gonzaga cor. Gatuslao Sts. 
Bacolod City 
Tel. no. (034) 7080620