Kuya J Is For The Modern Filipino

SM City BF Paranaque has since dethroned SM City Bicutan as the closest mall to our house. Let me just say that SM BF is my kind of mall- it’s slightly remote so it’s not as crowded, there are some shops, a grocery, a number of restaurants, the best Director’s Club cinema so far, and cheap parking (20 bucks if you were wondering). What more can you ask for? Anyway, on some Sundays, when no one wants to eat home cooked meals, we make an excuse to need something from the grocery and as a result, have Sunday lunch in the mall as well.

Since it’s a fairly new mall, there aren’t that many to choose from. Kuya J Restaurant is one of the newer ones and if you see how many people are waiting in line on Sunday lunch hour, you’d almost want to back out. Protip? Don’t.

Kuya J Restaurant SM Ciy BF Paranaque

The flow of diner traffic is reasonable and you and your party will be ushered to comfy, cushy seats before you know it. Kuya J Restaurant is a well-known and well-loved restaurant with roots in Cebu serving good old Filipino food. Now we don’t have a lack of Filipino restaurants around, there are old favorites such as Abe, Sentro, and Namnam, among others- what could possibly be Kuya J’s draw?

Kuya J Crispy Pata (p485)

One thing they got going is the simple, earthy motif of the restaurant. The warm, modern ambiance instantly drew me in, making me feel comfortable and at home, almost. The larger than usual tables and comfier than common chairs also impressed me. Kuya J is by no means a fancy restaurant, but you don’t see them scrimping on space to make your dining experience as comfortable as they can make it (without going broke, of course). You don’t exactly go to a restaurant to just sit and be comfy on your heinie and look around and savor the surroundings. It’s not Starbucks, you guys.

Food is the main player in judging a restaurant, of course. Kuya J is a family restaurant that hails from Cebu that serves comforting Filipino classics, with a touch of modern. Like the Kuya J specialty, Crispy Pata. The crispy fried pork thigh was served on a slab of wood, together with tongs and meat shears, sauce, and an expertly cut tomato with atchara as garnishing. The tongs and shears were a specially nice touch- crispy pata can be messy to serve but these tools make this popular Pinoy nom infinitely easier to handle.

Grilled Scallops (p210)

Another easy favorite is the Kuya J Grilled Scallops. I have my mind made up to order this appetizer every time I’m within vicinity of any Kuya J Restaurant. It’s nothing fancy, just scallops generously doused with a strong garlic butter sauce, and grilled. Simple but super mega delicious. I actually think I can order just this and a cup of rice for lunch and be happy with it.

I say Kuya J Restaurant is for the modern Filipino because the restaurant is accessible for everyone (who isn’t in the mall on weekends?), the place is warm and welcoming, and the food is deliciously, wonderfully, comfortingly Pinoy  (perfect for balikbayan relatives and friends), simply but artfully served, and moderately priced for the budget conscious taxpayer. 

Kuya J Restaurant

3rd Floor SM City BF Paranaque, Sucat, Paranaque City

02 478 7810

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2014: A Recap In Nomz

Although everyone’s back to work or whatever it is that fills up their days, the five-year-old in me still doesn’t want to admit that the holidays are over. It just blew by with me barely noticing it (my wallet did, though). So here I am, attempting to stretch what’s left of the Christmas season by remembering the year that was, in nomz.

In January, I was hopeful that 2014 could be the year when I started eating healthy-ish again. For a couple of years a long time ago, all I had for daily lunch was a homemade salad brought to work. How difficult could it be to do again? (Hint: Very.) I started out with S&R’s Chicken Caesar Salad. It’s got greens, tomatoes, bacon, chicken, croutons, and yummy honey mustard dressing. It’s not exactly the most healthy of salads but hey, it’s got greens. It’s a good way to start, right?

S&R’s Chicken Caesar Salad

Then came February. The devil introduced me to Heaven. In this side of town, there’s a place called Heaven and they have bacon so good, it’s almost evil. I wrote about it back then- Yes, They Have Bacon In Heaven. First month in and the “eat healthy” resolution is down the drain. Owell.

Heaven’s Maple Cured Bacon and Egg with Garlic Rice

By March, I had ignored that resolution completely. I found myself in Japan for a few days in 2014. Who was I to resist the call of ramen in the actual land of ramen? Ramen in Japan from Ichiran is super good it justifies breaking any sort of resolution. Read my post gushing about it here: Tokyo Eats: Ichiran’s Ramen Is The Answer To Life.

Ichiran’s Shoyu Ramen

In April, my relatives from Davao all came to Manila and brought this priceless haul. A boxful of “marang”- organic, and freshly picked from the tree all for me to devour. (I shared some of it, don’t worry.)

Fresh marang.

May was the most memorable month in 2014. For one, it’s my birth month and I got to spend it in Tagaytay, my all-time favorite getaway. For another, I got engaged. *cue teasing* Here’s a picture minutes after being asked THE question, taking my time to fully absorb the fact that I’m to be married over Bag of Beans coffee and Apple Pie ala mode.

Relaxing in Bag of Beans, Tagaytay.

In June, I had no fridge or proper utensils yet. But the lure of Selecta’s Oreo Strawberry Cookies and Cream was too difficult to resist. I served them in small wine glasses (because I had no bowls). I had at least half a liter of ice cream juice the next day. No regrets!

Grumpy Cat pillow is grumpy.

Sometime in July, I met the Starbucks’ Sausage Roll. It has since become my go-to picker upper or quick lunch for when I don’t have a full hour to nom. It’s a cheesedog in a croissant and those are two of my favorite words ever, combined or not.

Starbucks’ Sausage Roll

After several hits and misses, even trying complicated combinations and such, we finally found our favorite from Magnum Cafe- Death by Chocolate. One of the best-sellers, it’s a simple brownie-like chocolate cake topped with crunchy chocolate balls, and a stick of plain Magnum ice cream. De-lee-shoos.

Magnum Cafe’s Death By Chocolate

Come September, a new place serving hot and fresh doughnuts popped up in McKinley Hill. These aren’t your typical round fluffy ones, instead, they’re small, bite-sized squares dusted with powdered sugar known in Louisiana as beignets and can be made better by sweet and/or savory dips. I wrote about them too- The Beignets of Louisiana Doughnuts & Co. McKinley Hill

Beignets of Louisiana Doughnuts & Co.

In October, I had scored me jars of dulce de leche and did a quick and easy hack of Slice’s Choco Yema cupcakes for my cousin’s eleventh birthday. I wasn’t patient enough to try and copy the Choco Yema’s intricate design of tiny yema roses for dozens of cupcakes so I did a simplified version, it turned out well enough. I’m scoring this hack an 8 out of 10. (naks!)

Food  hack: Slice’s Choco Yema cupcakes

In October, Bim and I signed up for a class with Maya Kitchen to learn to make baked goods and pastries. It was a super fun (and tiring) weekend activity where we got tips and tricks to make eclairs, cream puffs, and churros con choco! As soon as we got out of the class, we tried making our very own cream puffs at home but ended up with globs of barely edible flour things.

The ones we made at home did not look like this at all.

And finally, in December, what with the hustle and bustle of the holidays and various other events,  there was barely any time to document all of the glorious Christmas food. But, what I did have time for is to take a quick snap of this happy little bottle of liquid gold.

Happy Holidays!

In retrospect, 2014 was pretty good to me. Fun times were had, milestones were marked, and life decisions were made. May 2015 be even better, for all of us. Let’s drink to that? Y!