Casa Armas is one of those restaurants that I've passed by over and over again, yet for some reason I had never tried it yet. When I lived in Makati, I'd walk past it all the time in Greenbelt. When I was staying in Ortigas, I'd see it whenever I'd go to Podium.
However, when I was invited to dinner at Casa Armas by my buddy Spanky Enriquez to give their dishes a try, I didnt think twice. Not just because I'm a fan of free food, but because of Casa Armas reputation as one of the top restaurants of choice when it comes to Spanish Cuisine.
First off, I want to apologize for the quality of the pictures. I'm going to warn you right now, they don't do the actual dishes justice. Rina wasn't with me when I went to this dinner, and I couldn't get the flash working (At first I thought my batteries were out of juice. But when I got home, Rina took the batteries out, and put it back in, then it worked just fine. Go figure).
As I've mentioned before, I have a high standard for Spanish food because my grandmother was a fantastic cook, and passed down her knowledge in cooking to her daughters.. my mother included. So basically I grew up on the stuff.
Having come from a hectic day at the office, I was a tad bit late getting to Casa Armas, so my other dinner companions were already settled in, and some of the tapas were already served.
The first plate I saw in front of me was the Callos Tapas (P250). The sauce looked nice and thick, and let out a delicious herb infused aroma but.. I don't eat tripe ("Pickiest Eater", sorry).
Instead, I decided to focus my attention on the Chorizo Frito (P285). These were amazing slices of meaty chorizo cooked in olive oil. It had a nice blend of spices in it that made the flavor pop. I loved how the edges had a slight char to it. I could see myself eating this as a meal itself, pouring the olive oil drippings all over hot white rice.
The Croquetas De Jamon (P35 per piece) was pretty fantastic. The exterior was cooked to a nice crisp, but on the inside, the mashed potato and cheese was deliciously creamy, although It could have used a tad bit more of ham. Not because they were stingy with it, but because I have an abnormal love of ham.
Casa Armas also has a Paella Negra (P975) variant, which is Paella cooked with squid ink and other seafood. Although this is a favorite of my sister, I pulled the Pickiest Eater card once again and didn't try it.
One of the highlights of the evening had to be the "Asado de Pollo Ensu Jugo Plato Speciales" (P1,130 must order 4 hours in advance), which was Casa Armas' version of Iberian Chicken. The perfectly roasted chicken was topped with a sprinkling of toasted garlic bits, and was wading in a shallow pool of olive oil, while garnished with small chucks of potatoes. The garlic just enhanced the flavor of the chicken, that was cooked to perfection.
The main event of the evening was the Cochinillo al Horno ala Castellana (P3,995, must order 5 hours in advance), which is a roasted baby pig (How come whenever Spanky Enriquez invites me to dinner, there's always a pig involved? Not that I'm complaining.. hehe).
Just as I was waiting for the server to whip out a huge itak and start chopping up the little sucker, he instead took a small ceramic plate, and in what seemed straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie, started whacking it like it had just cursed out his mother.
The server was actually chopping the pig with the hand speed and precision that would make a ninja jealous.
I have to admit, it was quite a sight to see, and it was rather impressive.
After that dinner at Casa Armas, I felt a little bit foolish that I hadn't been there before. I went through their menu before I left, and I was rather intrigued by their "Huevos Y Tortillas" section, particularly the Huevas Fritos, as well as the Tortilla Paisana.
Casa Armas has branches at:
Nakpil St, Malate