PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen: Not for the “faint of heart”

PenPen's Filipino Kitchen - Cubao Expo, General Romulo Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City

PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen – Cubao Expo, General Romulo Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City

No. They don’t serve extreme food items here. What I meant about “faint of heart” was for those people that should not eat fatty, oily, possible-heart-attack-inducing dishes. Because they have a lot of that here.

Just reading this could actually cause some to feel a little skip in their heartbeats

Just reading this could actually cause some to feel a little skip in their heartbeats

Just read that! Isaw, Bagnet, Tokwa’t Bagnet (they didn’t beat around the bush with that one), Chicken Adobo sa Gata, Aligue rice and pasta, and Penoy & Bacon Carbonara?!

Classic Filipino Movie Posters

Classic Filipino Movie Posters

According to my research, PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen is owned by Indie Actor Ping Medina. He is the son of veteran Filipino actor Pen Medina. It’s a restaurant from a family of actors, but if they were going to do the movie poster theme for one central beam then why not do it in other parts of the place?

More classic Filipino movie posters

More classic Filipino movie posters

I didn’t like the look of the place that much, and it didn’t help that the air conditioning unit was down. But I’ve read some decent reviews of the place and I decided to stick it out and have a meal with my office colleagues. Were they able to elevate Filipino food?

For starters, Gabi Chips

Good thing they didn't include "crispy" in the name. otherwise that would be false advertising

Good thing they didn’t include “crispy” in the name. otherwise that would be false advertising

I am always boggled when an item classified as a “starter” in a restaurant’s menu would actually arrive later than some mains. It shows that no one is expediting well in that kitchen, and it makes you wonder if your entree was actually cooked fresh or just re-heated. Or worse, out of a can!

These would have been okay had they been crispier. Some of these were still opaque, and then some pieces seemed colder than the others. The sauce in the middle is the Filipino mystery sauce, or banana ketchup mixed with store-bought mayonnaise.

Longganizang Alaminos Meatballs Pasta

Presentation's pretty, but that's really not what's important here.

Presentation’s pretty, but that’s really not what’s important here.

This was what I was talking about that came out before the Gabi Chips and I hated it. Hated it.

The meatballs tasted and felt like meatballs in spaghetti’s I unfortunately had to eat when I was a kid. This was canned spaghetti, shipped straight here from ‘Merica by my grandma in a balikbayan box, and it was gross. This dish was almost inedible. There is no sauce there, it’s pasta sauteed in something then the damned meatballs are tossed in. Take it off the menu, you’ve done a lot of that already PenPen’s.

Tinapa Flakes Pasta

Looks just like the previous doesn't it?

Looks just like the previous doesn’t it?

This, surprisingly, tasted better than the previous pasta. This despite the two just looking alike. The smokiness and saltiness of the Tinapa was absorbed well by the noodles and made the dish savory. It’s a very simple way to achieve fusion cooking.

My colleague had a blast eating this. It’s the same colleague that ordered the Deli Pinoy Pasta from Cab Cafe which also featured tinapa. I guess it was just something about the mystery meatballs from the previous pasta that threw the whole dish off.

Bicol Express with Laing

Even the vegetable dish is heavy and fatty

Even the vegetable dish is heavy and fatty

The traditional Bicol Express is a dish of chilies cooked in coconut milk and cream, with meat bits and bagoong (shrimp paste) for flavor and additional texture. Bicol Express here in Metro Manila is a pork dish, cooked in coconut milk with bagoong and some chilies. It’s not even spicy sometimes as was this one. The Laing as well was not spicy, but as heavy as the Bicol Express. Laing is taro leaves cooked in coconut milk and with some chilies and tinapa or pork bits.

Despite all that, these actually tasted decent but offered nothing special. Considering that the price of this plate was Php 165 then you could say this was an overpriced carinderia dish.

Three Cheese Baked Bangus Belly

Baked with a "ding"

Baked with a “ding”

In some ways, bangus belly could actually be worse for your health than pork fat. Totally made that up. But just because it came from a fish does not make it healthier. And baked with three cheeses, this is just a calorie bomb that’ll make your blood pressure pop.

And I swear I heard the distinctive ding of an oven toaster then this came out. But be careful when consuming, it’s piping hot cheese on top of fatty fish belly. Unless you want the inside of your mouth to be scalded please let it cool-off.

I don’t like Bangus Belly so I never got to taste this. My colleague said it was good and she gobbled this up fast after it cooled. But yeah the three cheeses on top are different types of processed cheese.

Bagnet Garlic Rice with Asian Vinaigrette

The Coup de Grace, that'll send you to the heart center

The Coup de Grace, that’ll send you to the heart center

If you have high blood pressure, hypertensive, or recovering from a heart attack look away from the picture now!

It was arranged pretty atop some perfectly cooked garlic rice (believe me, some establishments cannot cook garlic rice), but it still is just pure evil. And those slices of deep-fried pork belly are thin but they could get you to an early grave (knock on wood).

Here’s the thing, Bagnet is supposed to be to make the pork fat and skin really crispy, almost like crackling. This was not. The fat was still soft and juicy which made this more dangerous. The skin was tough, so thank goodness it was thin. And the Asian vinaigrette was just an afterthought and an attempt to try to make this artsy fartsy (it’s store bought and unnecessary). The pork itself was alreay salty as it is which is further intensified by the salt from the fried rice.

Off the menu item: Froogee

Froogee

It’s off the menu but it’s really not secret. It’s written in a board behind the counter and it costs less than Php 50. It’s a refreshing drink made-up of fruits and vegetables of the day. This day it was Dalandan (almost like orange but less sweet and green), Mangoes, Carrots, and Tomatoes. It is a good idea to drink this after eating all that fat.

Ruminations…

Cubao Expo after Tropical Storm Mario

Cubao Expo after Tropical Storm Mario

It’s right outside Cubao Expo so it’s easy to notice. Plus it has a lighted sign that changes color.

I was generally disappointed about PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen. I feel like it didn’t actually elevate Filipino Food but more like it just added to the mediocrity some have perceived about it. The concept of the restaurant is novel, it’s playing off the families rich background, but the execution was lacking. We were the only ones dining there that day which was saying something considering the number of people who flock over to Cubao Expo.

Ask for the bill and they remind you that you're adding to their families treasure trove. Dude that was deep

Ask for the bill and they remind you that you’re adding to their family’s treasure trove. Dude that was deep

If you eat here you might think that’s all you will get here at Cubao Expo. But no, explore the area more. There are plenty more food spots inside and please try the other places and not just settle for Bellini’s. The Appraisery will probably be featured here one day given my love for all things coffee.

Did you like your PenPen’s Filipino Food Kitchen?

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6 responses to “PenPen’s Filipino Kitchen: Not for the “faint of heart”

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