Friday, January 14, 2011

Cafe Juanita at the Fort - Manila Dining

Kitschy is an oft-repeated adjective describing Cafe Juanita in reviews elsewhere, but I'd rather use more positive terms like "bohemian" and "eclectic". Even the food choices found at the menu are well appointed entries from all over South East Asia and beyond. But as we've mentioned in another post, the real essence of a great dining experience lies solely on how the food tastes. The buck stops there. And in Cafe Juanita - traffic indeed stops once you start munching, masticating, chewing, and digesting on whatever it is that you ordered!

It isn't our first time in Cafe Juanita. We've been to their Pasig branch several times in the past, but this would be our first visit at the swanky Burgos Circle at The Fort. We settled at the 2nd floor which has bigger space and higher ceiling than the one in Pasig. The place is still filled with a dizzying array of kaleidoscopic cloths and bead curtains hanging down the ceilings. If you dozed for a millisecond, and your REM suddenly takes you back, you might as well find yourself inside a gypsy's abode, swathed with trinkets and a motley of ornaments spangling 2 feet above your shoulders. The place can be disorienting, but we're not complaining. Sometimes, that's the point of visiting a new place.

Cafe Juanita is a Filipino Restaurant, but as we've mentioned earlier, they are also known for their Pad Thai (a traditional Thai dish said to have originated from Veitnamese traders of the old days) which is almost at par with the authentic ones we've tasted in Chiang Mai, Thailand. And there's a congregation of southeast asian culinary littering their menu. For my part, I couldn't dine here without a plate (or two) of their Bagnet, which is to-die-for! I do have to mention that Cafe Juanita is fine dining, thus prices are geared towards the upmarket crowd. But this fact is compensated by the equally upmarket quality of their food - although the waiters could be a little more receptive when filling up those bottomless iced teas which come at a pricey P90 ($2)! Special events deserve special food and this, more often than not, dictates special prices. Having said that, below are some of their best sellers. We were looking forward to the Sticky Toffee Pudding (P127 or $2.90) but we were just too stuffed to consider dessert after.

And this is the Eye in the Sky!

Bagnet, the Ilocano version of the Lechon Kawali. This "Bagnet Salad" is deep fried pork meat placed in a sinublan (a very large iron pot) to boil, then submerged in brewing oil until bubbles begin to appear while its skin hardens and begins to pop. About 20 minutes after the meat was taken out from the frying pot, the process is repeated until the skin pops further. One of my personal favorites from Ilocos Norte. This costs P357 ($8.15).

Tinuktok is crabmeat wrapped in taro (gabi) leaves and coconut milk. The tinuktok that we know hails from Bicol and the Visayas and makes use of shrimp instead of crabmeat, and wrapped in triangles instead of Juanita's rectangular dish. Sumptuous nevertheless. This costs P225 ($5.10).

Maya-Maya sa Miso is P385 ($8.75) and is seasoned according to your sour taste. This variety of sinigang is really Red Snapper in Tamarind and Soy Bean paste broth. This is the Philippines' sour-flavored stew associated with the tamarind (sampalok) which originated from the tagalog regions (particularly Laguna). Before serving it, someone would bring a cup and ask if this was sour enough - or not!

Bottomless iced tea at P87 ($2).

Pinoy Ratatoy is the local version of the French's ratatouille, a traditional French provencal stewed vegetable dish which originated from Nice (its full name: Ratatouille nicoise). Juanita's version is a sauteed traditional tuyo (dried fish) with fresh tomato, eggplant and herbs. This one costs P200 ($4.50).

Chicken Teriyaki - broiled slices of chicken meat is cooked in tare or sweet soy sauce marinade. This costs P287 ($6.50).

Forbes Town Center at the Burgos Circle

Contact Details:

Cafe Juanita at The Fort, Unit WS-2 Burgos Circle, Forbestown Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City, 1634
Telephone: +632 403-1952

Scale model of Forbes Town Center at Burgos Circle (The Fort) in Taguig City


Trotter said...

Hi Eye! You're making me hungry! Time for lunch... ;)

The Nile 2010 is coming an end! But the temple of Philae surely deserves a comment. Blogtrotter Two has it. Enjoy and have a superb weekend!

eye in the sky said...

Sure is time... :->

Siddhartha Joshi said...

Awesome food pics man!

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, sidd.

Ola said...

It is not kitchy at all:) I love the food pictures, would like to try all:)

eye in the sky said...

Thanks, Ola. They do taste heavenly, I should say.