June 9, 2017

Empacho Restaurant x Bar

Empacho is a term (Filipino, Spanish and Latin American) that is characterized by the feeling of indigestion and/or feeling full after eating too much. Of which happens to me most of the time hehe, especially when I’m eating my favorite comfort food. I always say, I’ll just take small bites or portions but when the food gets you going, I end up getting empacho. 

There’s a new restaurant in Tomas Morato that offers Filipino soul food with a modern take and it’s called Empacho. And yes, you will enter the restaurant hungry and will definitely leave with a tummy twice the size of your usual empty one. Empacho is your new go-to Filipino restaurant and bar that opened last April 2017. 

The restaurant and bar occupies a huge space on the second floor atop UCC Café at the corner of Tomas Morato Avenue and Don Roces St. Empacho offers full bar, private dining area, Wi-fi, private parking and smoking area. I love the industrial interiors with high ceiling and huge windows which gives doesn’t give you that somewhat suffocating feeling that other resto-bars are like. It’s cozy, warm and inviting. 

We visited on an afternoon, thus I am intrigued what it looks like on a busy night. I like that there are booth seats and long tables which gives you that impression that this place is definitely a venue where a large group of friends or families could enjoy good and soul-full Filipino dishes. 

Here are the menu items that I got to try, with other foodies, during our visit at Empacho: 

Spicy Tamarind Wings - crispy wings in spicy tamarind sauce with fried chili. The spicy and sour taste was a good mix, everything was well-balanced, not too spicy and not too salty, just perfect. The chicken skin/coating was also quite crispy. 

Triple Bypass - crispy chicken skin, salt and pepper chicharon bulaklak and isol inasal with 3 special sauces. Not for the faint of heart as this contains “putok-batok” items. But definitely a must order since this contains well-loved street food items that will go well with your favorite alcoholic drinks. I like that the crispy chicken skin, salt and pepper chicharon bulaklak and isol inasal are not too salty. 

Empacho's Smoked Blood Sausage - blood sausage with fluffy puto in coconut creme anglaise drizzled with calamansi. This is Empacho’s version of the dinuguan or blood stew. TBH, this is not one of my favorites as I want my dinuguan very saucy and a little sour. The sausage had this unexplainable after taste that I can’t put my finger on what it is. Anyway, props for Empacho’s innovative take on this dish. Maybe, dinuguan and blood sausage are acquired taste. 

Crispy Tokwa't Baboy - Spicy Chicharon Bagnet and fried tofu with Empacho's special sauce. First off, I like how they presented this dish, looks very appetizing and Instagram-worthy. This got two of my favorite food: Bagnet and tofu, both were crispy on the outside and tender and soft on the inside. 

The Ultimate Empacho Salad - roasted pork belly with pickled red onion, cucumber, green mango, turnips, carrots, tomato, and tom yao drizzled with spicy calamansi dressing. Even the salad at Empacho did not escape the putok-batok (high cholesterol) theme but either way this was a good salad. The roasted pork (lechon) toppings added a good crispy texture and the dressing was nice too.

Crispy Pork Kare Kare - spicy deep fried salted pork belly with Empacho's annatto peanut sauce and bagoong. Again, props for the presentation. I love Kare-kare, it is one of my favorite Filipino comfort food. I love how the peanut sauce tasted and was flavored well.

Empacho's Lechon Belly - crispy and juicy oven roasted marinated pork belly stuffed with herbs and spices served with sinamak. This is definitely the star of Empacho's menu. Who can ever say no to rolled roasted pork belly? Definitely not me! The skin was super crispy and the meat and fat sections melt in your mouth. One of my favorite at Empacho, and I guess this was everyone's favorite too. 

Crispy Soft Shell Crab Pinakbet - mixed vegetables sauteed in shrimp paste and bagnet topped with crispy soft shell crabs. I loved that this pinakbet embraced seafood all too well because instead of using pork they used soft shell crab as the meat. The taste was super good too! Not too salty and packed with seafood flavor coming from the crab and the shrimp paste. Another favorite of mine and absolutely recommending this dish. 

Sinigang na Lechon with Strawberries - Empacho's Lechon Belly in Tamarind and taro broth with strawberries. I've tried all varieties of Sinigang and this is the first time I've encountered using strawberries to add some sour flavor to the sinigang. Of all the favorite food that I have, everytime anyone would ask me what's my comfort food, I would immediately and in a heart beat would blurt out "Sinigang!". I get empacho whenever I eat sinigang. The meat used was lechon, oh yeah, it can't get any luxurious than that and the soup was sour that fit to my liking. Loved this!

Ginamos Kalkag Rice - dried alamang and shrimp paste with a kick of sampaloc. This rice is mixed with Visayan dried shrimp/fish and shrimp/fish paste which are salty and mixed with sampaloc. It was flavorful and something new. If you're the adventurous type, then you should try this.

Tinapa Rice - tinapa flakes topped with salted egg and tomato. This rice, ahh this rice, contains all that I love to eat if I want to break away from the usual. I loooove tinapa (dried smoked fish), salted egg (addicted to this) and tomatoes. This on its own is already a meal for me. I loved it more when I paired this with the Tokwa't Baboy, Kare Kare and Pinakbet.

Salted Egg Lava Cake - dulce de lava cake with salted egg custard filling. A-MUST-TRY! yes all caps "para intense!" It's sooooo good I'm even lost for words to describe it. The filling is heavenly, the bread is super moist and soft. If ever I have one and only one reason to trek all the way to Tomas Morato this will be the sole reason. 

Drinks and Beverages - Empacho Bitters, Empacho Iced Tea, Paraiso, Bayani, Kamias, Ube Sago and Mocktails. Since Empacho is also a bar, they offer a wide array of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that are very innovative with both taste and names. Plus I gotta commend how each drink is presented. I only got to try the non-alcoholic ones because I still have work that night and I am in no way going to take even a sip of those. Yeah, too bad but there's my reason to go back to Empacho. Right? Right!

Besides the value for money that Empacho offers, I like that how they spruced up our favorite Filipino dishes and also, I must commend them for being innovative and how they presented their dishes -  which makes them very appetizing. I would love to visit again, but will probably do it at night next time to see the what its night vibe is like.  

2/F Unit 201 #170 Tomas Morato Avenue 
cor. Don Roces Barangay Sacred Heart
Quezon City, Philippines
Contact No: 022469069 ext:514 / 0917-4671816
Email: ralubrico@gmail.com
Website: www.empacho.ph
Facebook: facebook.com/empacho.ph
Instagram: instagram.com/empacho.ph

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Empacho Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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