Brasas: Latin American Street Food at the Podium

Lynn and I rarely visit The Podium. While it’s a fine and dandy place, we just don’t have any real reason to visit it when there are tons of other malls near our homes. But I guess that will soon change as Lynn found this little restaurant called Brasas.

brasas_store_front

Fun fact: “brasa” is Spanish for hot coal. So Brasas seems to be the perfect name for a restaurant that serves Latin American street food.

Anyway, if you’re like us who don’t really know much about Latin American street food, worry not as Brasas’ menu isn’t that hard to figure out. It’s basically divided into three categories: platters, wraps, and sandwiches. Nothing too exotic. You’ll feel right at home once you get to see what goes with what.

Anyway, Lynn and I were starving when we arrived at Brasas so we both wanted something hefty to eat. While their wraps and sandwiches looked enticing, it seemed like only something with rice can satiate our hunger. So, meat platters!

Lynn ordered their beef platter (P220):

brasas_beef_rice_platter

And a cup of their house iced tea:

brasas_iced_tea

I had their chicken platter (P180):

brasas_chicken_rice_platter

And a glass of guarapo (sugar cane juice with mint and lime):

brasas_guarapo

Both were substantial meals accompanied with South American slaw, chimichurri sauce, and a fried plantain chip. There’s not a whole lot we can say about what we ate–except that we really loved what we had because the portions were adequate and the meat was tasty. Lynn especially liked the beef because it was very tender, wondering if she could possibly replicate its taste and tenderness. I was expecting more heat and spice from the food, but it was all very good.

We basically mopped up our plates, not leaving a single crumb uneaten–that’s how much we loved our meals. It definitely looks like Brasas will have us coming back to The Podium more frequently than usual. We can’t wait to try everything else on their menu.

The Great Buttermilk Fried Chicken Experiment

Lynn said “Let’s try this buttermilk fried chicken recipe I found online!” and I said “Sure!“. So, the great buttermilk fried chicken experiment began.

Lynn prepared the marinade/batter a night before using an ancient, super secret recipe passed only from one online user to another that we’ll totally share with you in a few. All I know is that it has buttermilk. Anyway, here’s Lynn. *passes the keyboard*

I was actually inspired by this Carolina Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe and the Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe. What I just did was I mixed buttermilk powder in water (because as far as I know, there’s no place where I can get actual butter milk), and then I dumped a load of spices in: thyme, basil, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and then I added several dashes of garlic powder and onion powder. I poured the mixture in a Ziploc bag and put the chicken pieces in to soak overnight. Yay! Okay, back to Tj. -Lynn

After preparing the batter, time to get down and dirty. Aww yeah.

Here’s what you need to create what I’d like to call the “crispinator”. Flour, onion powder, and some Spanish paprika. The peanut oil is for frying and is to be used a little later, just in case you’re really clueless about what to do in the kitchen.

To prepare the crispinator, pour flour in a bowl, enough to cover all the chicken pieces you’ve prepared the night before. Make sure to crush all the clumped-up flour… because it’s fun.

Season it with onion powder and Spanish paprika. Mix them all together…

…then bury the pieces of chicken in the mixture! Since the chicken pieces were soaked in the batter overnight, the little particles of flour will instinctively recognize how tasty the chicken pieces have become and will then willingly surrender themselves to it for the greater glory.

Voila! The chicken and flour hybrid. Part chicken. Part flour. All food.

Preferably, you’d want to use a deep fryer to cook your chicken/flour hybrids. But, believe us, they’ll cook even with just a generous amount of cooking oil. Be sure that the oil’s hot before dunking the chicken pieces in so their armor of flour wouldn’t fall off.

You’ll know you’re done when they turn golden brown.

I got too excited that I forgot to use the nicer camera to take a picture of the finished product. So, here’s the Instagram photo that I did manage to take:

Enjoy!

Croc Burgers at Nueve Cafe

Lynn and I just had lunch but when I saw Nueve Cafe‘s sign, I immediately knew that I needed to check them out despite being full as hell. It’s not often that you come across a restaurant that serves something truly different like, you know, crocodile meat. Nueve Cafe’s first branch is in the Wilcon Builder’s Depot in Alabang, and the one we visited is on the ground floor of Wilcon City Center along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City. The crocodile meat is sourced from Tanay, Rizal.

While Nueve Cafe offers a variety of croc meals – from sandwiches to sisig – I decided to go for their Dundee Burger as it was the cheapest (Php90) and I really didn’t want to splurge on something I know absolutely nothing about.

Still, I have to admit that I haven’t been this excited about burger in a long time. What’s it gonna be like? Will I like it? Will I just puke it out? Who’s on top of the food chain now, crocodile?!

My order then came. I took my first bite. Then… chicken. Crocodile meat tastes like chicken. Only slightly blander. Which is quite good, actually, as I knew for certain that I wasn’t going to spew out anything afterwards.

Overall, the Dundee Burger is fairly good in my opinion. Very Filipino; the patty’s slathered with ketchup and mayonnaise and the burger has slices of cucumbers in it instead of pickles. But, ultimately, it’s nothing to write home about. Well, come to think of it, you did eat crocodile meat. Just focus on that.

We found the concept of serving crocodile-based dishes interesting, if a bit bold, since many people might shy away from eating crocodile. Fortunately, Nueve Cafe offers a whole lot more non-crocodile options and some tasty-looking desserts for the less adventurous.

McDonald’s Big N’ Tasty

We’ve noticed a steady decline in “beefiness” in McDonald’s burger patties, especially in the Quarter Pounder and the Big Mac, over the years and it is one of the reasons why Lynn and I don’t munch in McDonald’s as much these days. Well, that and the fact that there are now a ton of better burger joints around. Still, we come back from time to time probably just because we grew up eating McDonald’s and want to give it a chance to redeem itself, hoping things have improved. So, when we found out about the Big N’ Tasty, we decided to give it a try.

McDonald's Big N' Tasty

The Big N’ Tasty is McDonald’s answer to BK’s Whopper. To me, though, it’s like the love child of the Big Mac and the Quarter Pounder:

McDonald's Big N' Tasty

Yup, those two did some freaky things in the kitchen alright and that slice of tomato is really just their last-ditch effort to try to cover up the fruit of their unholy union. The patty tastes like that of the Quarter Pounder of old and the toppings taste exactly like that of the Big Mac. It’s not really a bad thing as there’s finally a clear option if you can’t decide whether you want a Quarter Pounder or a Big Mac; you get the best of both worlds!

While the Big N’ Tasty isn’t really a huge deviation from the established McDonald’s menu, it’s still a pretty welcome addition. Hey, at least there’s something new to choose in their menu. This is as good as it gets for fast food burgers.

Cro-Magnum

Magnum Classic and Almond

Streets’/Selecta’s Magnum ice cream is one of those food items that spark heated debates–one camp says it’s the best damn ice cream available right now while another camp says there’s really nothing special about it. There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to the Magnum. Ice cream these days, huh?

Anyway, the Magnum has been around for some time now but it has only recently reached our shores and, based on my observations, it’s causing quite a stir. Upon tasting it, I have to say that I’m really not that surprised with the attention it’s getting.

The Magnum, in my opinion, actually tastes good. While it’s not the be-all and end-all of desserts, one can see that there’s something to the hype. Compared to some ice cream bars, the Magnum is indeed superior; it tastes richer and creamier. For me, the chocolate coating alone is worth the price. But how superior it is really depends on one’s personal experience. And if you don’t like it, no one’s really forcing you to buy it. Overall, I think the Magnum simply tastes like really proper ice cream.