Monday, April 15, 2013

Quick Bites: Goto Monster's Goto Special and Tokwa't Baboy

Goto Special

 For me, nothing heals and soothes like a bowl of arroz caldo. My first memory of the stuff goes all the way back to when I was a pre-schooler. One time, my dad picked me up from my grandparents’ house in Mandaluyong’s Old Wack-wack area then we made the short drive to the old Good-ah in Greenhills. I remember walking across the small bridge that allows pedestrians access into the restaurant, which, to my 5-year-old imagination, was quite magical. Then my dad and I sat on the counter and he ordered—chicken arroz caldo for me, goto and tokwa’t baboy for himself. I must have loved it, because since then I would ask our yaya to prepare chicken arroz caldo every time I felt sick or when I needed some good coddling.

To this day, I still pine for my yaya’s classic chicken arroz caldo when I’m under the weather (or just feeling blue). Although, recently, I was just as comforted by Goto Monster’s one-of-a-kind Goto Special. The porridge itself was rich, thick, and flavorful. You pick up the essence of a robust, aromatic broth used in cooking the short-grain rice and malagkit—an heirloom recipe from owner Jean Hill’s grandmother.

Jean added her own twist with the toppings and you can be assured that each ingredient was deliberate. Of course, there was tripe—because any self-respecting goto has got to have it. Goto Monster’s was tender and didn’t have the gamey, barnyard taste from sub-standard preparations. Instead of the usual hard-boiled egg, Jean decided it made more sense to use half a salted duck egg. “Plain chicken egg is just as pretty,” she imparts. “But, you don’t really get much flavor from it.” She then adds another dimension with some shredded tinapa, and rounds it all up with the traditional garlic crisps and green onions. What you get is a blitzkrieg of flavors, elevating the homely porridge into something that would induce cravings from any time of the day.

Tokwa't Baboy

 With all of that already going on in the goto, you will probably think that an order of Tokwa’t Baboy is excessive. Perhaps, but you will be missing out on something pretty darn good if you cast it aside. The fried tofu is crisped up and sliced, and then tossed in a bowl of cubed pork and fresh onions. But, instead of the usual cartilage or kasim, you get juicy bits of bagnet—that fabled Ilocano crispy pork dish marinated in sinamak and spices. With the flavorful meat, the sauce does not have to work overtime, though it is a study in sweet/sour balance in itself. No matter how filling the goto is, I will always have space in my stomach for this.

People always wax poetic over their favorite comfort food, and I am obviously no different. Goto Monster offers a jazzed-up alternative to the classic Filipino dish but still gives you that feeling of coming home. Its not trying to be fancy—it’s the same roadside preparation served amidst down-to-earth surroundings. But it is better, and it makes you want more.  

Goto Monster 
P. Ocampo corner Dungon Sts. 
San Antonio Village, Makati City 
E-mail address:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Let the Sunshine Through

Girls who do not eat are very foreign to me. I respect their choice—they obviously prefer to look good in skinny jeans over indulging in a cheesy, carb-y pizza, and that’s ok. Once in a while I do catch myself admiring their lithe physiques and hoping that I, too, can fit into those tiny size-2 dresses. But I made my choice, and I chose to eat well. Therefore, I will live with the results, which is the “junk in my trunk.”

But the ladies of Sunshine Kitchen are freaks of nature—they cook and eat delicious, rich comfort food without gaining an inch around their mid-sections. From the lovely chefs (co-owner Tanya and my baby sister, Sansan) to the bubbly part owners, all of the ladies involved look great in their sexy denim cut-offs. Don’t be fooled though—these hotties know their food.

When I eat at Sunshine Kitchen, I like to prep my stomach with one of their healthy salads. Their dressings—such as the Mediterranean Salad’s red wine vinaigrette—are light yet flavorful.

The pizzas here can definitely give those of the surrounding establishments a run for their money. The crust is thin and crisp, but with a bit of a bite. Old-school, Neapolitan-style. My favorites are the Cristal’s Choice, which is their version of the pizza Napolitana. But for something that is uniquely SK, go for the Sunshine Pizza—garlicky Cabanatuan longganisa, juicy porchetta, peppery arugula, topped with a runny egg. A spattering of yolk adds just enough richness to an already decadent dish. Not for the calorie-counting, but then again, you only live once.

Matt the chicken lover swears by their Fried Chicken. Crisp, juicy and flavorful, it has all the winning components. Their gravy is what I imagine good Southern-style cooking must be. Creamy and rich, but not overtly so.

Another bestseller is the Longganisa Paella. The dominant flavors are classic Spanish, but with familiar flavors of local sausage and eggs. Very festive and perfect for sharing.

Their lust-worthy Porchetta is served with rice pilaf and French beans. This, along with their pizzas, is what will set this establishment apart from all the trendy grub spots in the metro. The skin is chicharon-level crunchy, and the moist pork is soft and perfectly-seasoned. Everyone from husky males to Cohen-cheating waifs swear by it.

Sunshine Kitchen also makes their own ice cream, and one time I got to try their Key Lime Pie Ice Cream. And that is exactly what you taste when you have a spoonful. A cool touch would be the sweetened breadcrumbs that add texture for a well-rounded dessert. It’s an ideal place for pretty much everything—from quiet brunches, to power lunches, to boisterous family dinners. Or just come by when you want to be cheered up by some straightforward, delicious food.

Sunshine Kitchen
2/F Fort Pointe Building (near Urbn)
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Mobile no. 0929-8139775