in two consecutive weeks, A and I have been to the same restaurant because we feel we’ve found a relatively quiet place — a diamond in the rough(?) — in the middle of the busy and noisy Market! Market! bars and restaurants!
Oriang is located outside the main mall of market! market! and near the air-conditioned bars/restaurants area near the parking lot (as opposed to the open-air ‘food court’ type of restaurants). you need to walk into something like a side street to find it. it’s not as frequented by mall-goers since it gets less foot traffic. still, it was a great idea for curious eaters like myself to find it.
on our first visit, we tried the Nilagang Bulalo and Tuyo Fried Rice. we were served crispy crackers (or ‘noodles’ as they described them, i recall) dressed with pesto while we waited. i also ordered their Okoy for a veggie appetizer. thinking about this meal already makes me salivate. (yuck! kadirs. i know. lol!) the bulalo was one big bowl that could easily serve 4 people with small appetites! and the broth… THE BROTH! i’m a sabaw person most of the time. and it was just pure awesomeness so i kept on ladling the broth into my bowl. it’s the kind of broth you want to have when you have to stay inside the house because of the stormy weather outside. it really hits that spot.
the tuyo fried rice was A’s favorite. very filling with strips of cabbage but it was kinda hard for me to deal with raisins in the fried rice. it was ‘different’ but not totally weird. i like raisins! just wasn’t sure about it in my fried rice.
the okoy was a non-event for me. though it took a while to prepare, i may have gotten used to the flour-filled and soggy okoy i had in pampanga and just craved for that. it didn’t spark memories or tastebuds but it was nice and crispy outside and a bit firm. we didn’t finish everything and had them packed and we had that awesome food for the following day!
while we left rubbing our food babies after that meal, we thought we just had to come back. so the following week, we did!
that week, we tried to confirm our hunch that this is one great food place. we ordered the Kare-Kare for the both of us and I still wanted some soup. I ordered something that had molo wrapper and dumplings (was it Molo soup? cant’ remember really) and the tuyo fried rice made a reprise in this visit.
the first time i took a sip of the soup, i had some regrets. which made me even regret it more when i regretted hesitating in telling the waiter when he asked how the food was! in hindsight, i think it would have been better if i really said that the soup was a bit too salty for my taste. i was caught off-guard, maybe, or i just wasn’t used to complaining about food. it’s something we grew up with as filipinos i guess. you eat what’s on the table. if you don’t like it, then starve. we didn’t have that luxury at home. i digress. the dumplings were yummy and meaty but the broth just really bothered me. still, i took the rest home and ‘fixed’ it by adding water and ate it heartily the next day.
kare-kare is one of my most favorite things in filipino cuisine. the veggies were cooked but still crunchy, the beef was tender but not stringy and the sauce was smooth. a bit too smooth for my liking but it was really good sauce. i was looking for a little more sweetness but it was fine, really. of course, the kare-kare wouldn’t be complete without the bagoong. and that bagoong was mighty good. kung pwede lang ulamin eh. haha!
as usual, we didn’t finish everything knowing we could take it home as we did the last time so we still had some room for dessert. A had a scoop of vanilla ice cream and we shared the Turon de Gregoria – crispy wonton with banana slices topped with caramel. The caramel seems to come from muscovado sugar or something very coconut-y. i may be wrong but it’s not your usual caramel, i think. it was a really nice surprise which capped off our second visit. and i promise you, it will not be the last. there are still a whole lot of items on the menu we haven’t tried and i’m pretty confident it’ll be worth coming back to.