Kanin Club has got to be one of my more recent treasure troves. Much good has been heard about the place and when my cousins suggested a trip to the Ayala Triangle for lunch, I brought with me excitement and high expectations.
Situated in the middle of a row of restaurants just beyond the Makati Stock Exchange, Kanin Club's facade easily shouts Filipino with its wooden tables, batibot chairs and colored glass panes.
Inside, the interiors mirror Old Manila houses (and the ones in Vigan) where big windows with wooden sliding panels are permanent fixtures. Dim, vintage drop lamps adorn the ceiling, while old ceiling fans ventilate the al fresco dining area. The counter is even decorated with balusters that are commonplace in traditional Filipino homes.
I was the last to arrive, good thing my cousins understand my need to take food shots before anyone can eat. Them liking that idea is another story, though. If they weren't family, they'd kill me for letting them stare at the food knowing they can't take a single bite. So let's get on with the food...
The Ensaladang Mangga with Salted Egg (P172) is a salad dish composed of tangled slivers of green mango dabbled with a little bagoong, slices of onions, tomatoes and salted duck eggs peering from underneath the pile and cilantro leaves crowding the top. While a nice introduction to a Filipino oriented meal, it wouldn't bowl you over with remarkableness.
The mountain of chopped water spinach surrounded by a pool of vinegar and soy sauce was such a pretty sight. Tiny garlic bits tumble down from the apex amassing into the light brown moat below. This Adobong Kangkong (P97) was a nice entremet, providing a subtle briny additive to the meal.
I like fresh lumpia for its medley of vegetables ensconced in a thin edible wrapper and this Lumpiang Sariwa (P97) was no exception. A blend of sweet soy, peanuts and garlic sauce was effused on top of the huge lumpia garnished with peanut bits, chopped chives (?) and cilantro leaves, and flowed all the way down to the plate.
The Tinapa Rice (P149) was a mouthful, so to speak. Shards and shreds of smoked fish literally lace through each grain of rice, making it comparable to a complete rice meal. It particularly rivaled my long time favorite from Ninak, the latter having a tiny edge just because of the included tomatoes and red eggs.
Imagine the incredible flavor of beef ribs - my favorite meat for sinigang as they are extremely sapid and the fat oozes just enough to make your insides tingle with excitement - with the right sourness of tamarind broth and you get Sinigang na Tadyang ng Baka (P366). The tender meat gingerly falls off the bone with a gentle intrusion of the fork. The familiar Filipino taste with a perfected level of acidulousness serves as a comforting memory of home-cooked meals -- those made by the best cooks in the family.
There was nothing wrong with the Crispy Pork Binagoongan (P231) actually. It was just a mere case of a victual being overshadowed by other stellar viands. The meat had a thunderous crunch even amidst the bagoong-impregnated sauce; a bit of oil emanating from the alternating fatty layers. A hint of sweetness complemented by a shadow of salinity, it was generally savory in taste. I scoop out another spoonful then I move onto the next.
The golden grains of Chorizo Rice (P149) topped with thin slices of chorizo was tasty enough, a tad bit salty due to the processed meat, but full of flavor just the same. Though not my favorite of the bunch, still it worked well when paired with most of the meat dishes. Perhaps the scanty chorizo meat was favorable for pairing it with say, dinuguan or binagoongan. If the opposite had been the case, it could have drowned out a bit of the viands' distinguished taste.
My first bite of this Crispy Dinuguan (P261) prompted a whispered curse (thankfully unheard by my daughter). I've heard too many raves for this dish, too much frankly, that it prompted me to up my guard since most of the time, the noisy ones are those that fall short. All that glitters ain't gold I suppose. But this -- this one takes the cake! Though I have to warn you of its sinful, underlying properties -- deep fried pork laden with crispy -and oleaginous- fat soaked in a stew of porcine blood. Think of the best lechon kawali you've tasted and smother it with a perfectly concocted blood sauce. My eyes started to narrow as the gears in my head started spinning. I crossed my fingers in hopes of bringing home a sizable serving of this pièce de résistance. Savory but deadly midnight snack!
The Seafood Kare-kare (P298) is by far the best tasting kare-kare I've eaten in a long time, and the price is cheaper than other restaurants' at that. The peanut sauce explodes with much flavor that the bagoong only served as a decorative side condiment. Instead of the usual bland nutty taste, spices are already infused, almost as if a little of the shrimp paste has been inculcated as well. Mussels far outnumber the shrimps and squid rings though I don't mind. The annatto-imbued sauce is the star, all others just carry supporting (albeit still essential) roles in this gastronomic show.
The Turon KC a la Mode (P135) has four deep fried rolls jutting out in all directions from under a frozen dollop of ube ice cream. Cracking hardened caramel littered with sesame seeds cover portions of each roll's top. As you poke your fork through the fried rice paper, sweetened coconut strips slowly ooze out and a number of monggo beans spill delectably onto the plate. More prying reveal banana slices and purple yam jam. Oh gosh, this shouldn't even be legal. Talk about sweetness upon utter sweetness. Best to partner each bite with the ice cream to alleviate the treacly taste.
Kanin Club is undeniably one of the best Filipino restaurants out there. Pinoy style comfort food at its finest. With a large number of hit dishes, you'd be compelled to go back and try the others 'coz you're sure to get your money's worth.
Spot: Ayala Triangle Gardens, Makati Ave. Makati
Contact No.: 621.6109