Friday, March 11, 2011

Kanin Club Despedida Dinner for the Ranjos

I mentioned in some of my earlier posts that my balikbayan relatives from San Francisco (Uncle Ernie and Auntie Nona Ranjo), spent the yuletide season here in the Philippines.   According to my brother (who possesses a VERY GOOD memory), the last time the Ranjos celebrated Christmas in the country was back in 1996...back when my siblings, cousins and I were all still young, single, without any kids, and all still living under one duplex compound!  They come visit every couple of years or so (the last of which was during my wedding in 2006), but for Christmas, the last was in '96.

For their 2010 Christmas visit, almost all of us "former kids" are now married, have kids and babies of our own, have set-up house with our respective spouses/ partners, and busy with our own families, jobs or businesses.  Good thing, they stayed at my parents' house.  And since my sister and I visit and spend the whole day at my parents' once or twice a week, we got to see Uncle Ernie and Auntie Nona often.  In the process, they also got to bond and play with our little girls.

But even without us "former kids" to keep them round-the-clock company anymore, they were still able to do many other things, such as:
  • Attend a baptismal party;
  • Visit malls and shopping centers they haven't seen yet (e.g., TriNoma, SM Mall of Asia, Serendra/ Bonifacio High Street, Newport Mall, and even the newly-renovated SM City North EDSA, Greenhills Tiangge, St. Francis Square Mall, SM Fairview, Ever Gotesco Commonwealth, etc.);
  • Be with all of us at our annual Christmas reunion;
  • Celebrated a noisy and observed a "super firecrack-y" New Year's Eve;
  • Have a New Year's Day lunch and dinner;
  • Have a massage at some fancy spa (twice, I believe!);
  • Visit relatives;
  • Meet-up and dinner with other vacationing balikbayan friends;
  • Attend a birthday party; and
  • Even managed to take a tour of Hong Kong and Macau!
Whew!  I got tired from just listing those down!  Anyway, pretty soon a month had already passed and they had to go home to San Francisco again.  And because they failed to spend time at my cousin John Dee's resort in Baler Province (due to an unfortunate string of events in their HK-Macau trip), the latter thought it would be good to treat our Uncle and Aunt to a send-off dinner (with the rest of us) at a really good family-friendly restaurant, one where he knew that everyone will relax and enjoy.  John Dee's restaurant of choice was Kanin Club at it's branch in TechnoHUB in Diliman, Quezon City.

Prior to that night, I have never eaten at Kanin Club.  Nor have my sister and her hubby.  More so my Uncle Ernie and Auntie Nona.  But I have heard GREAT things and have read a lot of good reviews about the food at Kanin Club.  So I was really excited about going there, and of course...seeing my cousins whom I just saw barely a week before at their mom's (my aunt's) birthday party.

It took quite a LONG while before we were seated, which was consistent also with what I have heard and read about Kanin Club.  The line was long!  The place was packed!  If John Dee hadn't already placed his order ahead of time, I think everyone would have decided to just transfer to another restaurant.  But I guess he really wanted for everyone to try this particular resto.  In the meantime, he ordered Halo-halo (from the restaurant next door) for those who were already hungry.  Maia and the kids weren't hungry yet and so my hubby and other cousins accompanied them and killed time at TimeZone.

Finally, after about an hour or so, our table was ready!  And by the time that everyone arrived and took their seats, John Dee's orders were soon served.  They were...
Thai Green Mango Salad
(sliced green mangoes, onions, cilantro, peanuts, then sprinkled with a sweet-salty mix)
I'm not a fan of green mangoes, and so I didn't try this.
But my hubby, who is somewhat of a green-mango-connoisseur, says it was GRRRRREAT!
Crispy Liempo
(crunchy pork belly strips, served with 3 kinds of dippings/ sauce)
I liked it because it was simple, not oily nor salty.  A great appetizer!  
Sinigang na Hipon
(fresh shrimps, slow-cooked in a sour tamarind broth)
Did you notice that when seafood is fresh, they have that bit of sweet element to them?
I tasted that in the broth!  It was really yummy!  
Sinigang na Salmon Belly sa Miso
(fresh Norwegian pink salmon belly in traditional sour tamarind and fermented soybean soup)
Salmon. Belly. Sinigang. Period. :)
Bagoong Rice
(fried rice mixed with salted and fermented shrimps)
Really YUMMY goodness!
Aligue Rice
(fried rice sauteed with crab fat)
Sinfully delicious!  I advice that you stay away if your blood test shows high cholesterol.
Sinangag na Sinigang
(Sinigang-inspired fried rice, topped with pork liempo slices, and Kangkong that's cooked tempura-style)
This is a meal in itself.  Imagine dry Sinigang.  Genius!
Uh...sorry about the almost-empty plate :-\
Crispy Pork Binagoongan
(pork belly, deep-fried to a golden crisp, and served in a bed of bagoong sauce)
Now listen, if you're on a diet, then this dish isn't good for you.  You poor thing! :(
Pork Barbecue
(tender pork cutlets, marinated in Chef Amilet's secret sauce, and then grilled)
I'm a simple gal!  And this simple dish turned out to be my favorite of all my favorites in Kanin Club.
They say it's BBQ, but it tasted like pork tapa to me!
Crispy Dinuguan
(pork that's deep-fried to a crisp, then set in a semi-dry stew of pork blood)
Their signature dish.  Kanin Club's bestseller.  Said to be the one most copied by others.
I'm not one to eat Dinuguan when it's not cooked by my Yaya Nita (because I know how clean and thorough she cooks the dish, and because she DOESN'T use innards).  But THIS!  I'm a believer!  The crispy pork had the texture of Lechon Kawali.  It blended well with the pork blood stew, which was cooked perfectly in vinegar.
No innards too!  Yes!!  (Ehem...I love yours too Yaya Nita!)
(beef tripe, pork leg chunks, and vegetables slowly cooked in peanut/ anatto sauce, and served with bagoong)
I can't say that I loved this dish.  But I also don't hate it.
Perhaps because it paled in comparison to our other orders.  It was okay for me.
Bangus Escabeche
The menu described it as "the fattest milkfish...served with a sweet-and-sour sauce of red bell peppers, carrots, and onions".  Instead, we got the "regular-sized" ones.  A little disappointed.  I should know, we always buy fat bangus fresh from either the wet market or supermarket.  Taste-wise, it was nothing special.  Just okay.
Seafood Kare-Kare
(Kare-kare but instead of meat, there are prawns, mussels, and squid)
There was so much food that I wasn't able to try this.  Hubby said that it was yummy, and the vegetables were cooked perfectly.  But that the prawns weren't fresh, as he had a hard time taking off the shells...they were "stuck" to the prawns.
Stuffed Squid
(tender, sweet, and juicy calamari, with chives stuffing, and a secret sauce)
I know I tried this but honestly...I don't remember how it tasted.  Anyway, my husband said that the squid was tender and the sauce good.  But he would have preferred that it was grilled rather than fried with breading.
(Taro leaves, slowly simmered in freshly-squeezed coconut milk, & flavored with pork, dried fish, ginger, & finger chili)
I don't eat Laing so I wouldn't know.  My husband didn't try it either.
Turon KC
(fried and caramelized banana, wrapped with purple yam, macapuno, and monggo)
Everyone LOVED this dessert.  But I, once again, didn't try this as I am not a fan of purple yam, also known as "ube".
Sorry about the photos showing dirty and "almost-empty" plates".  We always seem to enjoy eating too much and forget to take a picture of the food, before they get devoured!  But overall, our dining experience at Kanin Club was very GOOD and really SATISFYING!  The cuisine is traditionally Filipino but with a twist!  It was very ingenuous, the way they "re-presented" old-time Filipino food classics like the dinuguan with crispy pork meat; or even the sinigang-inspired rice...yum!  I describe their food as flavorful, rich, and bordering on being heavenly AND sinfully good at the same time!  The broths...refreshingly delicious!  Portions are good for sharing (usually about 2-3 persons per order).    No wonder their loyal customers remain loyal and keep coming back for more.  They sure lived up to the hype!

Take a look at the happy and satisfied diners:
My cousin Gay (with her tongue sticking out), Frenjick, Badot, my cousins the Orpilla family,
my brother Marc, Uncle Ernie (standing), & cousin Kati
(Left) The very generous Bustamantes.  My cousin John Dee & his wife Pia
(Right) My Dad & Mom, the Dela Cruzes

(Left) The Tobiases.  My sister Jaja & her husband Mark
(Right) The Sorianos.  Yours truly & hubby Cupid

Kids no more, my cousins Kati & Gay :)

(Left) The Ranjos.  Hmm..what are you doing to Aunti Nona's hair, Uncle Ernie? :)
(Right) The Orpillas - Ivy, Tor, Van & Ilka

Yours truly, Frenjick & Badot  |  My brother Marc & Kati

John Dee again  |  My aunts, sisters Arlyn & Nona

(Left) My brother Mikko, finishing-off the last of the Turon pieces
(Right) Uncle Ernie and my parents

I wish we had more photos of all the kids inside the resto.  But they all quickly left with their nannies soon after dinner:  the little ones (Maia and her cousins Andie, Tor and Baby Bella) quickly left for a stroll along the TechnoHub complex; while the tweens and teens (Ivy's only girl and the Bustamante boys) hung out either at TimeZone or Starbucks.

The parents...well, we all stayed behind.  Somebody had to finish all the left-over food, right?  So we ate some more, shared more stories, took photos...and then John Dee paid the bill (thanks cuz!).  We were all so stuffed!  Once again, John Dee was successful at getting EVERYONE together, and making sure that everyone was happy and satisfied.

It was a send-off dinner for the Ranjos, and the last time that the Bayot family saw one other (for the 1st Quarter of 2011, at least!).  Thanks for the treat, John Dee!  For now, I will just have to wait for the coming summer to see my cousins again...where I heard about plans of a get-away-slash-pool-party come next month.

But before I forget...I wanted to say thank you Uncle Ernie and Auntie Nona for the wonderful "pasalubongs", Christmas gifts, and laughter!  We really have a great time whenever you are here.  I pray that you guys make visiting a yearly thing, so we can always be together!  Till we see you again!  Be well!  We love you both!

Mama Mia is a 30-something wife; stay-at-home mom to one; blogger; and author of Online Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Mom (OCSAHM). Learn more about Mia here, or contact her via this page. You can also get instant updates on this blog by following Mia on Twitter @miadsoriano; by "Liking" the official OCSAHM Facebook page; or by subscribing via Email or RSS.
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