February 13, 2019

Goto Monster: Not Your Ordinary Goto

We all have our own defaults when we think of comfort food. And for us Filipinos, I’m pretty much sure that one of them is congee or porridge. It would surely come up on our lists of top 10 comfort food especially when were under the weather or just want some pick-me-upper. It’s not a definite claim, but I believe a lot of people all over the world likes congee too, especially if when the Chinese influence have reached these far areas in the world.

Congee is a type of rice porridge or gruel popular in many Asian countries. When eaten as plain rice congee, it is most often served with side dishes. When additional ingredients such as meat, fish, and flavorings are added while preparing the congee, it is most often served as a meal on its own, especially for persons who are ill. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation. Despite its many variations, it is usually a thick porridge of rice largely disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water.

In the Philippines, this rice gruel is called as lugaw. Savory versions of lugaw are flavored with ginger and traditionally topped with scallions and toasted garlic. Dried red safflower (kasubha) may also be used as a topping, mainly as a visual garnish and to impart a more appealing yellow tinge to the dish. One of the most popular variants is the lugaw goto where the rice porridge is topped with goto or beef tripe. Lugaw is highly favored during the cold or rainy season, but it has also become a staple Filipino food that can be eaten during breakfast and or snack.

 I’ve tried so many versions of lugaw or goto in my lifetime, but I’ve never came across something as insane (in a good way) as the goto being served at Goto Monster. I’ve learned about Goto Monster when I came across a video of two foreign travel bloggers who visited the place and since then I mentally noted about this place. And then one day, I trekked all the way from Cainta to Makati with a couple of my friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon to give this place a try.

Goto Monster is a humble hole-in-the-wall place or eatery in the heart of Makati. It is conceptualized by Jean Hill who ferries herself as a patriot. She has no proper culinary background, but what she had was a vision, a love for cooking and a love for Filipino food that fueled her to come up with the extraordinary concept of Goto Monster. It’s easy for people to mistook it as another eatery or got/lugaw place, but I’m telling you, everything about this place is well thought out.

Aside from her love of Filipino food, Jean also loves functional art, which is very evident with the store’s extension room. You will find a wall filled with huge gallons of soy sauce and vinegar, that is actually aesthetically pleasing, and which the they actually use for cooking. Unlike other eateries, Goto Monster is well-decorated and neat with play on white and red hues and wood and steel textures. It reminded me so much of Kanto Freestyle because both are serving gourmet dishes masked as a local neighborhood carinderia/eatery.

The menu consists of a few entries but each dish is a like a passion project one after the other. When I said everything and I mean e-ve-ry-thing, is carefully conceptualized and formulated down to the last detail, I’m not joking at all. Every dish is something familiar yet tastes unique. They also cook everything fresh and everything is made from scratch. Even the sauces, the dips, the concocted vinegar etc. Thus, it is just safe to say that the food here is made with passion and love just like how your food is cooked at home. Below are the dishes that we tried:

Goto Monster - huge bowl of lugaw that comes with all the toppings available. This includes XX toppings namely. This is huge AF! It can feed 10 people and used to be a “challenge” at the store. If one person can finish this in 45 minutes, it’s free. But since not many can live up to the challenge, this was discontinued and now being offered as Family Size. I like the idea of this as you can DIY your own lugaw. I put almost everything in my bowl and surprisingly, combining everything turned out so good. You’ve got everything you need and want in a hearty bowl of congee.

Special Lugaw Toppings - this is the single order of the congee if you don’t want to order the super big bowl. Goto Monster’s congee is very much different from all the others I’ve tried before. Instead of using the usual dried red safflower (kasubha) to give the congee its yellow color, Jean opted for turmeric to mix with the ginger giving it a different spin which produced a more gingery and more pronounce earthy flavor. Another thing that I haven’t seen in other goto places, which I also really like, is the idea of using salted duck egg instead of the regular chicken, you should mush and mix it together with the congee and it’ll render a slightly salty flavor and will make the consistency thicker.

This comes in the following variants: Goto Beef Tripe (congee, toasted garlic, ox tripe strips, salted egg, chopped spring onions); Pork Bagnet (congee, toasted garlic, slices of pork bagnet, salted egg, chopped spring onions); Chicharon Bulaklak (congee, toasted garlic, deep fried crispy pork intestines, salted egg, chopped spring onions); Shiitake Mushrooms (congee, toasted garlic, shitake mushroom pieces, salted egg, chopped spring onions) and Chicken Adobo (congee, toasted garlic, home-made chicken adobo, salted egg, chopped spring onions). Among these, I loved the Pork Bagnet and Chicharon bulaklak variants. If you’re a vegan or trying to eat healthy, you can go for the Shitake Mushrooms. If you want to add more toppings on your congee, you can just order what you want from their available toppings for a certain fee.

Side Dishes - Of course, it’s more fun to eat goto or lugaw with side dishes. Goto Monster offers several of them too including Fresh Spring Rolls.and Tokwa (deep fried tofu). The Fresh Spring Rolls comes with a filling of mustard leaves, cucumber strips with your choice of pork bagnet, shitake mushrooms or eggplant. These also comes with three sauces: are peanut sauce, coriander pesto, and chili sauce. Take note that I didn’t say dips, because Jean taught us that you have to pour or put a little bit of the three on the rolls to get all the punch of flavors. And true enough they tasted different from when I dipped it on each than when I combined them all.

Now let’s talk about the Tokwa or Tofu. Can I just say that I love tokwa so much! I like both the Chinese and the Japanese versions but not the Taiwanese stinky tofu (sorry I can’t really stand the pungent aroma and the weird after taste). You can order these deep-fried tofu cubes with your choice of toppings: eggplant, Chicharon Bulaklak, Bagnet or Shiitake mushrooms. A lot of us enjoyed the one with the eggplant and Bagnet toppings. We poured a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce on them and voila! A perfect combo with your goto! By the way, they concoct all their sauces and dips which some are for sale (I heard that the chili sauce and the dilis chili oil are the best sellers).

Altanghapsilogs - Like in almost every neighborhood eateries, “silogs” are mainstays in the menu. But at Goto Monster, you’ll find their Altanghapsilogs (what they call their silog meals) quite the unique one. Instead of using the usual papaya atchara, Jean came up with the mustasa salad to pair it with the meat, sunny side up egg and garlic fried rice.

Options include Pork Bagnet Silog, Chicken Bagnet Silog, Chicken Adobo Silog, Tosilog, Sisig Silog, Bangusilog, Longsilog and Tapsilog. I love the tocino because it is homemade and very sweet which reminded me so much of my grandmother’s homemade hamonado. The pork bagnet is also so good, the fat portion melts in your mouth and the skin is so crispy. Oh and you should also try the chicken bagnet, it’s something new and not must like any other fried chicken you’ve tried before.

Drinks - I usually don’t write about the drinks that I try in an establishment unless they are worthy to be written about. Well Goto Monster’s line of drinks are so good that it will be a discredit not to give them some spotlight in this blog post. We tried almost every drink in their menu which included the following: Salabat Tea, Classic Barako Coffee, Barako Con Leche Float and Mais Con Yelo Float. I love the Barako Con Leche Float and Mais Con Yelo Float. The former reminded me of that strong Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk but this one is the local version using Kapeng Barako and Leche Flan ice cream. The latter on the other hand is my favorite afternoon desert snack Mais Con Yelo. Ms. Jean blended all the ingredients that you would usually see included in that refreshment and made it into a super yummy dessert drink.

Other drinks comprise of fresh slushies all made from the scratch; flavors include: Pineapple Mint, Cucumber Mint, Lychee Shake (seasonal fruits) and Salabat Ginger and Turmeric Shake. The pineapple mint was easily everyone’s fave, it was straight-up good and truly refreshing!

Desserts - Of course no great meal ends without some good desserts. We capped off our late lunch/early dinner at Goto Monster with their infamous Special Waffles Ala Mode and Ice Cream Pops. In all of these desserts you would find a great influence (again) of Filipino flavors, which for me is super creative and super clever. The waffles are not your ordinary waffles, they come in Bibingka, Banana Choconut, Champorado with Dilis and Puto Bungbong flavors. If those don’t send you back to your childhood or make you feel nostalgic, I don’t what can! The must-try’s are Bibingka and Puto Bumbong. I looovvveee champorado with tuyo; that even though I wasn’t a fan of the Champorado with Dilis Waffles, I really really find it pretty nifty.

The Ice Cream Pops are one of the top reasons why people go ga-ga about Goto Monster, and now I know why they won as one of the Best Desserts awarded by The Inquirer Newspaper. As of now, the flavors are as follows: Leche Flan, Banana Choconut, Bibingka Special, Ginataaang Halo Halo, Strawberry Cheese, Coffee Nagaraya Nuts, Choco Mallow, Mango Sticky Rice and Ube Halaya. Their ice pops are so creamy unlike the regular ice pops that literally tastes like ice with flavoring. They really use the ingredients necessary in each flavor whenever one creates it in real life. I’m telling you the Leche Flan Ice Cream Pop is to die for! Everyone agreed it’s the best flavor. My top five would be Leche Flan, Mango Sticky Rice, Ginataaang Halo Halo, Strawberry Cheese, and Ube Halaya.

On my way to Goto Monster, I was super excited that I will be able to finally try what this place has to offer. And with a hundred percent honesty, Goto Monster definitely delivered! It has satisfied my expectations and beyond. There were so-so dishes, yes (well all restaurants have that), but that is just a low percentage compared to the super good dishes that we tried. No wonder it’s creating a big buzz among food lovers and it’s definitely one of those very few places that live up to hype. Goto Monster is one of the best places to get comfort food; it’s one of the places you could visit to cure your hangover and if you’re feeling under the weather. And oh, did I just say Goto Monster is open 24-7? Nice right? High five!!!

Primo de Rivera St., Corner
Pablo Ocampo Sr. Ext., La Paz, Makati City
Contact Nos: +63 9163002600

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

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