Sunday, March 6, 2016

Serye Restaurant & Cafe: Filipino Cuisine as It Should Be

Serye Restaurant & Cafe is a Filipino restaurant that serves fantastic Filipino food from age-old recipes dating back 1930s developed by Aristocrat's Engracia Cruz Reyes. The name Serye is actually a play on the letters of REYES as the restaurant hopes to carry the family heritage of making diners happy by serving only the best Filipino dishes. 

They don't take short-cuts, preparing each dish from scratch with only the best ingredients. Recently, they even won the title for Manila's Best Kare-Kare by Food Wars Asia, a title I believe was well-deserved (more on the Kare-Kare later).  

Serye serves more than just Kare-Kare so read on to know more about our Serye experience...

The Santana Grove store feels like you are inside one of the old, Filipino houses of the 1930s with air-conditioning. The ambiance is quite refreshing since it makes you feel like you're just enjoying good food at the comfort of your own home. 

I really love how Serye was designed - very classy and elegant. 

We started off with Serye's Pansit Miki Bijon (Php 195) which was very tasty and flavored just right. It's just as how you'd like it when you're enjoying pansit at home, and you can see that Serye doesn't scrimp with the ingredients, making it a great dish for merienda. 

Serye's Classic Kare-Kare (Php 475) is the reason why Serye is now my favorite Filipino restaurant since I love Kare-Kare and it's the best Kare-Kare I've had in my life. It stars with the sauce, which was very thick and nutty with hints of toasted rice flour singing at the back of your palate. It's very rich in flavor that you feel like you just have to keep on eating it. The oxtail and tripe is very tender and soft, no effort necessary in chewing it as it just melts in your mouth. 

The Kare-Kare isn't complete until you try it with their special homemade bagoong. As soon as I put the two together, the dish immediately won me over. The balance of sweet, savory, and salty was amazing as bursts of flavor just fill your mouth. I'm craving for more of that Kare-Kare right now! 

The Laing Con Camaron Rebosado (Php 350) was just perfect that I couldn't think of anything wrong with it. It's a dish I really recommend as it's full of flavor. You can really taste the richness of coconut and gabi in each bite and the dish is just beautifully seasoned to perfection. The Camaron adds a new dimension of crunch so that texture wasn't one-dimensional. 

I never thought I would be this crazy for Laing but Serye's version is just spectacular. 

The Binagoongang Lechon Kawali (Php 475) is crunchy pork belly that's cooked in Serye's special shrimp paste and served with vegetables. I'm a sucker for Pork Binagoongan and I've never tasted one that's as good as Serye. It won me over, again, in terms of both taste and texture. The crunch of the Lechon Kawali makes it playful and exciting while the bagoong just takes the flavor to a whole new level. Perfect with a hearty serving of rice and the vegetables. 

Hand down, the best Pork Binagoongan in Metro Manila! 

The Boneless Cripy Pata (Php 365) is another one of Serye's signature dishes but it just wasn't as great as the dishes I highlighted previously. Personally, I thought it was a bit dry but the flavor was there. If Serye can find a way to retain some of the moisture while it's being cooked, then I'm sure I'd go head-over-heels for this dish. It's really innovative as you don't have to work hard to enjoy crispy Pata! 

I do prefer the experience of eating a huge chunk of Crispy Pata with my hands though and digging through the bones. It's how I think Crispy Pata should be eaten, but it's not particularly ideal when you're out on dates or when you are enjoying dinner in a formal occasion. 

The Macapuno Pandan Cake (Php 150) was light, fluffy, and nicely flavored. I didn't think I would love it so much at first, but the lightness and the authentic pandan flavor won me over. Serye only uses fresh pandan leaves and the pandan flavor just complements both the cream and toasted macapuno. 

It's the best dessert you can have at Serye and is another one of my favorites. 

You can also bring home some treats from Serye if you want to have a taste of their yummy pastries at home. They're perfect as a nice gift for your loved ones, but I personally would just buy loads and enjoy them all by myself. 

Serye also has some bottled products you can bring home. If the Kare-Kare and the Pork Binagoongan was any indication, then you should definitely take home a bottle of their Special Bagoong. I also loved the Gourmet Tuyo, especially when paired with loads of garlic rice or placed on top of some homemade Aglio Olio. 

I haven't tried the Atchara and the Java Sauce but I'm sure they're quality products like everything else Serye had to offer us. 

Food Quality: 5.0
Service Quality: -
Ambiance: 4.5

Overall Quality: 5.0

Serye takes Filipino cuisine up a notch to a level I couldn't fathom was possible. I have been enjoying Filipino dishes for years, dining at hundreds of Filipino restaurants, but the experience we had at Serye was special. They went back to basics, starting with quality ingredients made from scratch, and prepared each dish beautifully. It's the reason why their dishes currently hold the title of having the best Kare-Kare, best Laing, and best Pork Binagoongan in my books

No, it's not fancy modernist cuisine that uses the latest techniques molecular gastronomy but it's really Filipino cuisine prepared the way it should be enjoyed. Serye is now my favorite Filipino restaurant. This is Filipino food. 

Further reading you might like:

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Chef Jay

Serye Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. The author did not pay for any of the dishes mentioned in this article. This, however, does not impair the unbiased opinion of the reviewer. 

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