My parents celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary on Monday. In years past, they would take us kids out to dinner to celebrate. Last year, they celebrated their anniversary with quite a crowd as the date fell on a Sunday and we hosted a housewarming party for friends and family after nearly a year of renovations on our home.
This year, I decided to return the favor and treat them to lunch over at a restaurant we’ve been dying to try for months now: the much talked about Kanin Club.
Kanin Club gets its name from the word kanin or “cooked rice” in Tagalog and it’s quite appropriate as the restaurant is steadily gaining popularity for a variety of rice-based dishes and incredible viands that knock down a lot of rice. It has gained notoriety for its crispy dinuguan (traditional pork blood stew with chunks of crunchy deep-fried pork belly) and its crispy binagoongan (a cholesterol-laden twist on binagoongang baboy – pork cooked with shrimp paste – where, again, deep-fried pork belly replaces standard-issue stewed pork).
However, since we were all a bit more health-conscious than we were years ago, we decided not to have such decadent items on our table for the day and stuck to seafood and veg dishes that were, nevertheless, equally amazing.
The tinapa rice above is one such dish. Bits of smoked fish (tinapa) are sauteed with chives and minced garlic and mixed into white rice. Not too salty with a smoky appeal, this was definitely a great thing to go with…
…the Binukadkad na Tilapia. A whole tilapia is butterflied, turned inside-out, dredged in flour and deep fried till so crisp even the fins and some of the bones are rendered edible. This came to the table with a soy-and-chili dip, but dipping the buttery flesh in that would just be gilding the lily as the fish is so flavorful on its own.
The Thai green mango salad brought a sweet-tart zing to the meal. The shredded unripe mango was crisp-tender to the bite and the tartness was beautifully complemented by the sharpness of fresh cilantro, salty peanuts, toasty scorched coconut, and a tangy-sweet patis [fish sauce]-based dressing.
There was also a dish of button mushrooms cooked ala pobre (sauteed with garlic in butter) which came with three dips. Not exactly something to write home about, but it was quite good.
Since my dad’s a major salmon fan, ordering the Sinigang na Salmon sa Miso was a must. The broth isn’t clear or translucent like that of most versions of this dish as it was made a vivid orange-scarlet by the addition of ripe tomatoes. The flavor is also different as you can actually taste the richness of the miso paste used; I have a strong suspicion that they used Japanese red miso as opposed to the paler product used by other restaurants. There was a generous amount of gorgeously fatty rich salmon belly in the soup…so good!
And, as if we hadn’t had enough sinigang for one day, we also ordered their famed Sinigang na Sinangag: rice cooked in tart sinigang broth and served with mashed tomatoes, two generous slices of stewed pork belly, and vegetables cooked tempura-style. This was, to be very frank about it, amazing: the broth gave the rice a lovely, sticky-chewy texture and a delightful tart-savory flavor. The vegetables – okra and kang kong (swamp cabbage) – were crisp and moreish; the pork belly was meltingly tender.
My parents and brother loved the meal so much that we’ve added Kanin Club to the list of restaurants we’ll be going to again and again. 😀