The House of Bulalugaw. Bulalugaw. Even as I typed it my lips curved to a smile. It just sounds so weird, funny, and so damn catchy. Bulalugaw.
A got to learn about this place by accident. I was in the Cubao office and was surprised by an old colleague from back in the day when we were working for a bank. He just transferred to a BPO and we met at the lobby of the Gateway tower as I was going home. We got a snack at the nearby fast food and talked about the old times. He then proceeded to tell me about the time that he and his team went to “The House of Bulalugaw” (or The HOB). I swear I spent five minutes laughing after hearing the name.
But then I found myself thinking about it on my commute home. The name got me and I was curious. The next day at the Alabang office I was still thinking about it. So when I got back to the Cubao office the next day (two days after finding out about it) I knew I had to go there. I talked about it with two other people and they also got curious about The HOB.
We took a cab, asked him if he knew where it was (said yes), and we got lost. If not for the very popular directions app we would have never found this place. It’s within a residential area and you actually pass through some tough looking people if you came from 20th ave. But the part where the HOB is will be fairly quiet and sort of safe. Don’t go alone if it’s really late at night.
Upon entering you get greeted by the overly eager staff and they immediately ask you if it’s your first time. If you say yes they’ll then fire away some suggestions. Oddly, they never suggest the Bulalugaw itself. They will go straight for the Bustek and the Bulareta. Yes, they named their dishes like that.
Bulalugaw, Kaldelugaw, Bustek, Bulareta, Fried Chicken ng Lola Niya… Whoever thought of the dish names is either a genius or was very drunk at the time.
Ridiculous Catchy names aside, what’s most important is the taste of the food. Let’s get right into that!
Bulalugaw is a portmanteau of the words Bulalo and Lugaw. Call me crazy but I was actually expecting to see a big ass beef shank in the middle of all that rice porridge. Instead I got something that just looks like an ordinary bowl of goto.
The lugaw tastes pretty ordinary actually. The Bulalo was taken off the bone and the meat and ligaments were then combined to the porridge. It tastes just like goto but with way more calories. It’s likes eating Bulalo with rice mixed into the bowl with the soup. There! I said it!
Chicken ng Lola Niya
I don’t even know why they call it that, but basing it on the previous dish’s name of “Classic 70s Chicken” then it kind of makes sense. Kind of? Jun asked if this was available and the server immediately told him “Oo sir! Masarap yan!” (Yes sir! And that is delicious!).
To be fair, it does taste good. I am not sure but it tastes like it was first cooked as adobo then fried. The skin shriveled up due to the twice cooking process but the meat was very juicy and tasty. You might say that you don’t need to put gravy on it but no! You have to get that gravy!
It’s thick and tastes so good you know it’s not healthy for you. It tastes a lot like butter and drippings in perfect harmony. The kicker? You can ask for a refill! Whaaaaat?!
It’s another portmanteau, this time of Bulalo and Bistek (Filipino slang for Beef Steak). It’s one of the dishes that the server suggests (very persistently) to the first timers. I mean he kept selling it to Marx until he ordered it. I kid you not, the server actually answered Marx’s question of if the Bustek is good with this epic line: “Masarap yan sir. Liligaya ka sa sarap!” (It’s so delicious you’ll be in ecstasy!). This was followed by a grin that was actually kind of creepy.
But again, to be fair, it really was good! I didn’t really think it tasted like Bistek but rather like Sisig and that’s actually a good thing. It’s also so decadent that I suggest that you don’t eat it if you have a heart problem.
It’s pretty good and affordable. You’ll have to go out of your way to find it if you’re not from this area though. The food is not really healthy but delicious. The staff are so proud of their dishes to the point of being slightly creepy. The guy that handled the gravy refill even asked Jun “Sarap no sir?” (Very delicious, right?) That and the line for the Bustek makes you think that something might be in the Bustek that gives you ecstasy. Or that they’re brainwashing you to think it’s delicious.
But you know what? For a place called The House of Bulalugaw, the staff don’t really push the Bulalugaw to the first time customers. Judging from how ordinary it tasted I guess they just don’t want the first time eaters to base their visit on that.
Don’t get the silog meals (though these may actually be very good). Get that somewhere else! Go for the Bustek and Fried Chicken ng Lola Niya with that gravy for a different experience. It’s open until 3 am! See you around Metro Manila everybody!
Have you been to The House of Bulalugaw? Leave a comment!
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