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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Classic Filipino - Marison's

Fishballs, pig's ears, and intestines aside, Filipino cuisine is first known for its classic soulful dishes. There's the Kare-Kare or oxtail and tripe stewed in peanut sauce usually served with bagoong (sauteed shrimp fry) on the side.  There is also the smoky, comforting aroma of Chicken Binakol, or chicken stewed in coconut water.  Of course, no one is to leave out our Adobo, arguably said to be our national dish.  All worthy restaurants serving traditional Filipino dishes cook these viands according to a well-kept ancestral secret, and all of them really good.  But it is in Marison's that, I think, and to borrow Dean Martin's phrase, I truly have a party in my mouth.

Marison's is one of the newest restaurants that have sprouted up in this city.  But unlike the newest restaurants, it did not plant itself along the main roads of Antipolo, but tucked itself away on the second floor of Mille Luce Village Center, or better known as where the second Pure Gold supermarket here can be found.  It's a quiet place during the lunch hour, but we've noticed that they are usually crowded during dinner time.

As of this writing, it is the only commercial establishment on the second floor, still waiting for its neighbors, but you get a simple welcome as you go through its doors.  Marison's has sturdy wooden dining tables and comfortable chairs, accented by overhead lamps with wooden shades.

The kitchen counter is backed by cabinets with cathedral windows to give it a colorful character.  Service is attentive to details - paper placemats inspired by how Paris bistros would do it, proper and complete utensils to the side, napkins, and goblets of water served without being asked.

We started with Fried Kesong Puti (Php260/USD5.78) as our appetizer which came to us as triangles of the local soft cheese wrapped in lumpia (or riceflour) wrapper and garnished with sprinklings of parmesan cheese and parsley.  The sauce that was served with it hit me with just the right savory, tangy note.  A welcome change from the heaviness of the mayo-ketchup combo (of which I am guilty of serving as well).

Marison's boasts of its Kare-Kare, and so we had that (Php330/USD7.33 good for 2-3 persons).  Instead of the usual bowl of oxtail and tripe swimming in the peanut sauce and then topped by a mound of vegetables, the oxtail portions were deboned and placed in the center and the slices of eggplant, pechay (swamp cabbage), knotted sitaw (snake beans), and tomato wedges (a surprise mix in this stew) fanned around the plate.  And the tripe?  Oh, it was cut as you would a shoestring potato and cooked crisp on top of the whole shindig. With the fried tripe, another dimension was opened.  It was a simple twist on the classic that is worthy of a smack on the forehead (of the Why-didn't-I-think-of-that? variety).  

And the peanut sauce.  If you are a Filipino, you would know what I mean when I say that it was made from scratch.  (a.k.a. No peanut butter in sight)
To balance this meat dish, we tried the Miso-Glazed Salmon served with a slice of roast peach at Php330/USD7.33.  The fish was perfectly cooked and the miso could do no other than be a beautiful complement to it.  Worth every grain of the steamed rice (Php30/USD0.67/cup) we got.

Marison's does not have a fixed dessert on their menu, as they serve different ones each week.  For this visit, we had a slice of Gateau Sans Rival, a Filipino dessert with a French name and is thus called because it simply means that it is a dessert without rival in sweetness.  This version is mild, however, and garnished with macadamia nuts.  The layers of meringue wafers, sandwiched the equal layers of vanilla buttercream that had the right amount of sweetness.  Come to think of it, consider it as a French macaron served cake-style.  Perfect with their excellent coffee.  And when I say excellent, it means that the senior citizens out there may need to dilute their cup with enough hot water and share it around. 

Our bill, with a glass of Mango Juice (Php80/USD1.78) and soda (Php50/USD1.11) totaled Php1300 (around USD29).  This may be a wallet-full but when you think about it, its the going price for its equivalent snazzy Filipino restaurants in Metro Manila.

Nevertheless, Marison's menu will require you to come back for more.  Well, there are many reasons.  One of them is the Chicken Binakol (Php330).  Let the earthy, smoky coconut-flavored soup coax your soul and lull you to nourishment, or the homey Pork and Lamb Adobo, another specialty.  Next reason would be their bowls of salads (Php160/USD3.56) that have varieties of texture and is good for sharing, and then the other items on the appetizer list such as the Sisig Tacos (Php280/USD6.22).

Proudly Philippine-made.

2nd Floor Mille Luce Village Center
M.L.Quezon Avenue Brgy. San Roque, Antipolo 

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