Thursday, September 30, 1999
"Everybody loves to cook," Voy Heres explains, something he found out when he and his brother Ernie ended up marrying sisters, Jeanne and Carol Bringas. Along with their brothers, Paul, Alex, and Ferdi, and his wife, Babes, running a restaurant is all in the family.
The strong Chinese influence on the cuisine is evident in items like lumpia, the rice paper eggroll, filled with either beef or chicken. Featured as an appetizer on this menu, it's part of a list that's available until the wee hours on weekends, or until whenever the festive karaoke crowd has finished singing their hearts out. Bulaklak is a popular national dish that is jokingly referred to as "killing me softly," a reference to the richness of these deep-fried chitterlings, better known as "chitlins."
Milkfish, somewhat similar to trout, is flown in fresh and appears in several places on the menu as an entree, marinated in vinegar and garlic and featured in a sour soup. Tilapia gets a Thai flourish, simmered in coconut milk with lemongrass and ginger. Pork leg is roasted crispy and served with the skin on, and roast beef gets its flavor from soy sauce and lemon. The pinakbet is an interesting combination of fresh vegetables--eggplant, string beans, squash and sour melon--seasoned with bagoong alamang, salted tiny shrimp in a liquid brine.
Pansit, noodle dishes made with sauteed chicken and cabbage, come tossed together with both thin rice noodles and thicker spaghetti noodles, and are also featured in two varieties of soup.
Signature DishDalampasigan is not a complicated dish to prepare, relying only on a few simple ingredients and absolute freshness of the seafood for excellence. (A Nipa Hut specialty on Friday and Saturday, only.) As with all seafood dishes, appropriate cooking times are essential.
The kitchen starts by sauteing Gulf of Mexico prawns, whole and with the shells on. At the last minute before the shrimp is cooked through, some finely minced garlic is added to the pan, along with a handful of squid that's been cut into 1-inch rings. The squid is done just as it turns an opaque, white color, and should be removed from the heat and kept warm.
Next, red and green peppers cut into a thick julienne are stir-fried until tender. At the same time, in a separate pan, New Zealand green-lip mussels (washed and de-bearded) are steamed in a mixture of water and soy sauce, flavored with a squeeze of lemon and some finely minced ginger. The mussels are removed to a plate as soon as they pop open, and the liquid is reduced to make a pungent sauce. The dish is then artfully arranged with the sauce spooned over the plate, and garnished with lemon. Steamed rice is the usual accompaniment.
Although you'll find a small selection of house wines sold by the glass on the menu, beer is the preferred drink of the Phillipines. Voy recommends an icy glass of San Miguel. Halo-halo, listed under desserts, might also be refreshing, made from chopped dried fruits mixed with crushed ice and milk.