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Innovative But Wholesome

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Those tired of fusion cuisine, laden with mysterious, hard-to-explain dishes, should check out the latest Cravings spin-off at the Shangri-la Mall along EDSA, C2. (No, it has nothing to do with the drink.)

[Photo of Bibingka souflle]The courses are creatively concocted enough to be surprising to Western (or other Asian) taste buds, but not too wildly innovative to be jarring. Their latest offerings are designed to appeal even to non-fans of Filipino cuisine.

We had lunch there one afternoon. It was memorable. Here’s what we had.

Lechon Rice

Expect four hefty servings of rice topped with roast pork and crispy lechon skin wedges. The lechon meat is tender; the sauce, delicious; and the pièce de résistance, the skin, crispy and succulent.

This is a practical alternative to ordering an entire lechon when you get the craving for it. If you’re ordering for a party, call in first (Tel. 636-1510) to make sure you get the pork fresh and the wedges real crispy (pick it up just minutes before serving for maximum succulence).

Tortang Alimasag

These egg-dipped crab patties are a tad on the salty side, but you can always ask them to go easy on the salt. They’re also slightly sweet and spicy. Best with a sweet fruit drink or soda — other than salabat soda (ginger soda), that is.

We’ve converted several people to salabat soda aficionados, by the way. If you want to try C2’s (in our opinion) best drink, don’t have it with the alimasag. Have it with the Bam-i instead (recipe below).

Seared Tilapia in Coconut Emulsion

If you’ve been staying away from dishes with coconut due to a sensitive stomach, have no fear. The boneless fish is suavely flavored and the bed of shoestring potatoes it rests on is not oily.

Pick on the shoestring potatoes as you rest after consuming C2’s generous servings and wait for your bill. Another great partner for your salabat soda!

Pinoy Continental Sampler

This dish is a dessert quartet of garlic suman (sticky rice traditionally wrapped in banana or coconut leaves), camote chips (sweet potato), bananas, pan de sal with kesong puti (literally, “salt bread,” Filipino bread bun that’s more sweet than salty and white cheese).

You'r e supposed to dip the garlic suman in chocolate-e (thick chocolate made for dipping). But if that’s too weird for you (Garlic and chocolate?!), then ask them to hold the garlic. Of the four, we found the camote (with condensed milk dip) most delish!

Take the pan de sal with kesong puti home if you’re stuffed — as you most likely will be (C2’s very filling dishes tend to stick to your ribs for hours!) — and eat it with a cup of barako (native Filipino coffee). The bread won’t turn rubbery even if you eat it many hours later.

According to Chef Oliver Gascon, they aim to serve reliable, classic Filipino fare —wholesome and not too out-of-the-box. The Cravings Group certainly succeeded in doing this with C2.

Print ed: 12/07


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