Before this year’s visit, the last time I was in Davao city was a little over a couple of years ago. Since then, there have been a lot of changes within the city that it seems to have become a better version (or a at least, a cleaner one) of Manila. Everything you find here in the metro, I am almost sure you can get somewhere in Davao city. Despite all the architectural changes, Davao has remained a laid-back city with colorful people that combine a healthy balance between work and play.
Prehaps it’s just me, but I think it’s novel when I see people playing actual mahjong on weekdays (this I’ve only seen in Davao), when the closest version I do here is to play bingo online. The Davao malls also rival the many “luxury” malls here in the metro. One of the malls I went to was Abreeza, it’s not the newest and yet it looked like a fancier version of Glorietta and its adjacent malls. There was a multitude of restaurant choices for dinner, but we settled on Hukad which came highly recommended by nearly everyone.
Hukad means “to scoop” in deep Bisaya and although I couldn’t find any correlation to the restaurant’s theme, it’s a catchy and unique name. Hukad’s interior is fairly modern, the only local flavor being the banana leaves that lined the plates. The small area is rather crowded, even the small hallway had tables arranged in a row to maximize the space, leaving little room to move around. What’s nice is that they have a balcony, for customers who would like to dine al fresco.
The staff is friendly, accommodating our requests for our large(ish) party with a smile, including my request to speak in Filipino rather than Bisaya (because the only Bisaya words I know are “dili” and now “hukad”). For appetizers, we had Baked Scallops (p135), Shrimps in Garlic (p95), and for the less adventurous, the all time classic, Calamares (p148). Of the three, I liked the scallops the best as they were fresh and flavorful. The tiny shrimps were a little too salty, and the calamares tasted like, er, calamares.
I was looking for a distinctly Davao dish to sample for a more dedicated review but found none. Not that it’s a bad thing, they do have a wide variety of very Pinoy main course options. We settled on a combination of chicken, seafood, beef, pork, and greens. We got the Chicken Pandan (p120), Tuna Belly (p189), Laing (p99), Pinakbet (p83), and Puso Salad (p59). Perhaps because I get Pinoy classics on the regular that I thought them just alright. They weren’t bad, they were just okay.
And then we tried their crispy fare, namely: Crispy Pork Kare Kare (p198), Crispy Dinuguan (p99), Crispy Pata (S: p279/L: p339/XL: p375). I was told that these are Hukad specialties. The dinuguan and pata are fairly common, with Kanin Klub (still my favorite) and Lime both offering their versions of these crunchy artery cloggers, but crispy kare kare is something new to me. The only thing close to it that I’ve tried is Pino’s Bagnet Kare Kare, which is nothing short of delightful. Unfortunately, Hukad’s version was a bit of a letdown. It was merely fried pork chop served with a side of vegetables, kare kare sauce, and shrimp paste.
What I really liked was the Linat-ang Baka (p178), or nilagang baka in my household. The hot soup was tasty and in the bowl was a huge slab of tender beef shank with a handful of corn and various greens. It was delicious, it was homey, it was sulit. I’ll even go so far as to say that it can rival Leslie’s famous one.
- Unique name.
- Different take on old favorites.
- Cheerful staff.
- Location is convenient.
- No option to order just a single cup of rice (all bottomless).
- When busy, the place gets uncomfortably warm.
3 bacons! Hukad offers classic Pinoy dishes with a twist. Although I’m not a fan of some of their alterations, they get bonus points for innovation. Overall, their noms are good but not too spectacular. The prices are affordable enough to recommend to family and guests alike.
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