July 10, 2018

Limbaga 77 Cafe Restaurant: Nothing Beats The Flavor Of Home

I don’t know about you, but for me, home is where the most divine and heartiest dishes are made. When it comes to comfort food, our moms and grandmothers really do know best, do you agree? Family heirloom dishes make any old morning or any given Sunday meal even better. Moreover, the perfect ending to a hectic day is sitting around the table with family enjoying a warm home cooked meal. It’s that idea of not just about enjoying a meal together, but about celebrating good food and chatting about the day’s events which will definitely bring a family together.

The moment I got off my ride and stepped foot in front of Limbaga 77, all the feelings of nostalgia came rushing in. It brought back wistful memories of my younger years when life was all but simpler or less complicated. This 50-year old house greatly reminded me of our very own ancestral house in downtown Pasig. I seriously had flashbacks of those summer afternoons where I would play old-school street games with my childhood friends on our backyard or on the sleepy street adjacent to our house. And most especially, it got me thinking about the sight and smell of my grandma’s cooking which still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy up to this day.

Limbaga 77 takes its name from its address and is a stately ancestral house transformed into a restaurant whose open kitchen weaves narratives about traditional and innovative Filipino heirloom dishes with the powerful influence of home-cooked meals that you would often see on dinner tables of homes from North to South Luzon. The restaurant has this relaxed atmosphere with subdued lighting with native and antique furnishings. The place is so cozy and homey that you really feel like you can have an intimate conversation with people here and a would-be excellent place for a date.

The winding, worn-out, wooden staircase was a sight to behold; it was a bit similar to what we had at our ancestral house which I helped polish using a “bunot” in exchange for some money from my parents so I can buy snacks. Under that staircase is an old sewing machine and a wooden image of a Sto. Nino that we both also had before. At the second floor there was also this vintage TV set which was almost similar to what we had too; where you had to pull the sliding covers to reveal the TV monitor and that you had to push the buttons to change channels. Now, you know what I mean when I said earlier how nostalgic I was when I first saw this restaurant.

Limbaga 77 also serves a venue for almost any occasion. Name it, weddings, birthdays, baptisms, press-cons, product launches etc. have been held here. There was even an ongoing indie film showing when we visited. This is because they have several spaces that serve as functions rooms. The then garage now serves as the al-fresco dining area and bar.

Before I got sucked in into this nostalgic yearning of both happy and sad memories of my childhood, let’s go over to the menu entries that I and my fellow foodies got to try during our dinner at Limbaga 77 hosted by one of its owners, Mr. Sonny Fortuna.  

Green Mango Pomelo Salad - comes with grilled shrimps, sliced chilies, sesame seeds and bagoong alamang as dressing. This will remind you of ensaladang mangga but brought to a new fancier level by Limbaga 77.

Stuffed Bulaklak Ng Kalabasa - squash blossoms with ground pork, mixed with local white cheese, cheddar cheese, spring and white onions, garlic in beef stock. This is one of Limbaga 77’s newest dishes. I never thought that squash blossoms can be made into something so appetizing and could substitute dumpling wraps or rice paper. This is a great healthy appetizer especially for those who aren’t really fond of eating vegetables.

Stuffed Laing - fresh taro leaves with ground pork and white shrimp, in chicken stock and coco milk mixed with lemongrass, white onion and garlic. This is a favorite local dish that is also known as “tinumok”. I love anything with coconut milk and “Laing” is one them. Rumor has it that this is one Limbaga 77’s best-sellers and I wouldn’t doubt that. It was so flavorful and rich and it landed on my top 3 dishes that night.

Crispy Bagnet - this is an Ilocano dish of deep fried pork where the pork skin is super crunchy but the meat is super tender. This also came with alugbati leaves, cherry tomatoes and native onions which makes it less guilty to eat this Filipino favorite.

Limbaga 77 Paella - Filipino-Spanish rice dish with shrimp, mussels, clams, squid, chicken, Spanish chorizo, and egg, served in a shallow pan. Paella is originally a Spanish rice dish. The Pinoy version is somewhat similar but of course it has already adapted the local Filipino flavors. The toppings or the ingredients of Limbaga is very generous. If you plan to order this, make sure to call in advance as this make take a while to be served because they prepare and cook it fresh. 

Four-Flavored Wings - deep-fried chicken wings, coated with organic honey, soy, roasted garlic, and calamansi juice. I looove chicken wings! This is actually a Western dish but since our cuisine is a fusion of many cuisine, I was not surprised to see it on the menu. Perhaps this is aimed for kids who are fond of chicken, just tell the crew not to put chilies on it. The flavors of honey, soy, roasted garlic, and calamansi juice blended well, making these wings truly savoury.

Roasted Chicken - whole chicken with lemongrass. Another Western dish made to fit our Filipino palate. The chicken meat was tender, juicy and flavorful. You could really taste and smell the whiff of lemongrass as it has completely infused its essence into the chicken.

Limbaga 77 Pochero - Filipino-Spanish slow-cooked beef short ribs in tomato and beef stock, with Spanish chorizo, local saba banana, potatoes, cabbage and Baguio beans. Ok, I’m claiming that this is the best Pochero in town! I rarely have those moments when I get almost emotional and teary-eyed right after tasting a dish while exclaiming “ang sarap…” And seriously this Pochero generated that not-too-often moment. I can’t find the appropriate words to describe how good it is! Not even any of my family members (who are great cooks by the way) have created something like it. I love that they used fresh Tagalog tomatoes and pureed them to create the sauce for this Pochero instead of just processed and canned tomato sauce. You can literally taste the sweet and tangy zest of the Tagalog tomatoes. The meat was also very tender and the veggies that came with it were not overcooked. This is suffice to say that Limabaga's Pochero is the number 1 on my top 3 dishes that night.

Sinigang na Baka sa Pakwan - - just like adobo, Sinigang has many versions and this one still has the elements of long-established tradition but with some modern and innovative appeal. Being a person who could live off of Sinigang for the rest of her life (yes, it is my most favorite food in the whole wide world), it wasn’t my favorite that night. I don’t know if I was already full or because its sourness wasn’t able to fulfill the level of sourness that I usually like my Sinigang to be. Either way it was still good.

Bistek Tagalog - pan-fried sliced beef cuts with soy sauce-calamansi marinate with half-cooked native onion rings. This is also one of my favorite Pinoy dishes that we oftentimes cooked at home. I was glad to find that it tasted so similar to how we cook it at home. The beef was super soft and tender and sauce was on the saltier side but the sweetness of the onions neutralized that.

Garlic Fried Rice - garlic fried rice is something we Filipinos can be associated with yes? Talk about our “silog” dishes, garlic rice is a staple at every Filipino breakfast table. The garlicky it taste the better! This fried rice didn’t disappoint and was good when I paired it with the roasted chicken.

Danggit Rice -  fried rice with crushed dried rabbitfish and scallions, mixed with sliced scrambled eggs, onions, and tomatoes. Being part Ilongga, danggit has been a staple viand in our household especially that my mother-side of the family hails from the seafood capital of the Philippines and always sends us a variety of seafood both fresh and dried. I just love eating them as is or with vinegar or tomatoes. Man, this danggit rice, it’s everything! Ok, be still my heart… The rice is very tasty with generous bits of crushed danggit. The salty flavor of the danggit was completely infused with the rice. This is one of those moments that you can say “kanin pa lang ulam na!” It was an explosion of flavors in my mouth; this was so good, seriously! Though it is already packed with flavor in itself, it was still good to combine in with the other savoury dishes. So there you have it, my number 2 of the  Top 3 dishes of the night.

Bagoong Rice - fried rice with shrimp paste, scallions and ripe mango. The scallions and mango are mainly garnishing but you could still eat them. Not everyone likes shrimp paste but as for me I like them a lot. I like that the bagoong wasn’t that overpowering, it was just right.

Perlas ng Mangga - this is Limbaga 77’s take on the classic mango sago dessert. For someone who loves mango and takes it seriously, this did not disappoint. I absolutely love it! It was creamy and divine! I highly recommend it!

Brazo Tablea - another cool spin on a well-loved dessert. I love that the meringue part was soft, moist and chewy – what a good brazo should be and how I like my Brazo de Mercedes to be. The tablea was bitter-sweet with good chocolate flavor. It’s a good alternative to the generic custard filled Brazo de Mercedes.

Bikoron - sticky purple rice cooked in coconut milk then prepared turon style. I just can’t get enough of how innovative this dessert snack is. This is my first tome to ever try biko this way. I mean, come on, I love me some biko and turon but combining them together takes this to another whole new level. It would have been nice if there was a toffee dip that comes with it no? Either way this is a must-try!

Queso De Bola Cheesecake - not everyone I know loves queso de bola (they are monsters! LOL! Just kidding!) I kinda like them, like, so much. If you don’t like Queso de Bola, we can never be friends. I thought it was a perfect way to inject some local Filipino flavor into a very Western favorite dessert. Don’t fret though, the sharp notes that you would get by eating queso de bola isn’t that distinct with this cheesecake; it’s subtle and good yet it’s there.

Barako Brownie Mousse - what can be better than coffee and chocolate? I guess none right? This dessert actually reminded me of my favorite Starbucks coffee variety: dark chocolate mocha. It tasted just like that. For a coffee lover like myself, I’m giving this a thumbs-up.

Davao Tablea Cake - This cake uses the Davao Malagos chocolates which are 100% pure and all natural so you know you're getting the best. Hence, this presents a deeper chocolate flavor, with some nutty, earthy hints that add character to an otherwise common chocolate cake. You would love this if you’re not into those ultra-sweet chocolate cakes.

Limbaga 77 Signature Drinks - Lychee Grapes Shake: Lychees complemented the grapes well because of its floral sweet flavor. Mabuhay Smoothie: a concoction of coconut milk syrup, pineapple, and, of course, celery. Grass Citrus Iced Tea: naturally-sweetened Pandan and lemongrass brewed with the calamansi. This is what I tried and I was surprised about its taste. For me it tasted more like a gulaman drink rather than iced tea. Astonishingly, I liked it and it was refreshing. Minty Mango Watermelon: ripe mango, watermelon and mint leaves, in a fruity herb slush

Organic Coffee - owner Sonny Fortuna told us that the coffee beans were a cross-breed of Benguet coffee and Batangas Barako coffee. It was strong AF, but I like that they used balikutsa/panutsa (in Ilocos and other provinces, it's shaved bits of palinang or sugar cane; ultra soft, meringue-like candy made from the foamy part that forms during the cooking of molasses ) as the sweetener because it toned down the bitterness. Even the sweetener panutsa brought me back to my childhood. I would buy that for a peso a piece and just nibble on it for hours on end.

Limbaga 77 is not just about taste but it’s about emotion and reliving memories. Their dishes were truly expressed in bold yet refined flavors. I wasn’t sure what to expect out of Limbaga 77’s menu at first and had thoughts that it was just another Filipino restaurant; I was quite surprised by how sophisticated their menu was. They know how to do Filipino food right.

77 Scout Limbaga Street, 
Tomas Morato, QC, Philippines
Contact No: 0926 715 8134 /  02 2469069 ext:433
Email: limbaga77cafe@gmail.com

For more information, complete menu and restaurant reviews, check out their Zomato profile: 
Limbaga 77 Cafe Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

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