If I had a Match.com account (
I don't, Rina, I swear!), my profile would probably say, "Richie enjoys reading adventure novels, writing poetry and long walks to the fridge.". Come and get some, ladies.
It's always fun to eat at a place that doesn't take itself too seriously, which is the relaxed vibe that you feel when you dine at Neil's Kitchen, a new restaurant that takes Filipino dishes to a whole new level!
Already running a successful catering business, Neil and Michelle Ramos decided to use their prime location at the Westgate Center in Alabang as the laboratory for the Mad Scientist, aka Chef Neil, to concoct some new twists to Pinoy dishes!
An amalgam of trinkets and decors adorn the walls, barely leaving a blank space, with the cool white tones serving as the calming presence. at the same time.
The far end of the dining area is home to "My Father's Bookstore", featuring inspirational books by author (
and lottery winner) Ardy Roberto.
For our starters, we began with the Calamares with Saffron Aioli (P350). The squid rings were lightly breaded, allowing for a nice crunch without leaving you with a mouthful of flour, with the saffron aioli serving as a perfect compliment to the squid.
Because of the high vinegar content, I've never been a fan of Tokwa't Baboy (P250), although this was a major hit with my friends.
One of my favorite dishes among Neil's Kitchen's "Specialities" Menu was the Sinigang Paella with Grilled Pork Belly (P350). The creative Paella had the tartness of the classic sinigang, that melded beautifully with the sticky rice. The smokiness of the liempo was the ideal partner to the paella, balancing out the complex flavors of each individual dish. I find the price to be also incredibly reasonable, since the dish is good for sharing.
Another twist on the Paella that Neil's Kitchen features is the Bagoong Paella with Kare-Kare (P395). I am not a really big fan of Bagoong (Shrimp Paste), so I felt that the bagoong flavor was a bit too strong for my liking. I did enjoy the Kare-Kare sauce, as it was creamy, nutty with a light touch of sweetness.
The final paella dish we tried, was the Paella Valenciana with Spanish Tempura (P450). Although the paella was rather tasty, I'm used to Paella Valenciana being loaded with a medley of different ingredients.
Much to the delight of Rina, the addition of the Spanish Tempura added a different dimension to the dish.
Being a Picky Eater, its kinda a given that I'm not too keen on eating pigs blood. Rina, on the other hand, enjoyed the Grilled Chicken and Crispy Dinuguan Fondue (P395). Every now and then I would catch her reaching for a piece of puto to dip into the dinuguan hehe.
The newest member of Neil's Kitchen's Menu is the Sinigang na Grilled Salmon. The dish features a beautifully grilled Salmon fillet doused with the sour broth of siningang, infusing it with a zesty flavor unlike any you've ever had before. A fillet rests on a bed of minced vegetables.
Even the King of the North would enjoy the Chicken of the South Aka "Alabang Fried Chicken" with Gravy Rice (P395). The Chicken meat was moist and tasty, with the skin deep fried to a beautiful crisp. The gravy was creamy and rich, perfectly accentuating the delicious flavor of the chicken.
Despite being a new kid on the block, Neil's Kitchen's Boneless Chicken BBQ with Java Rice (P395) can stand toe to toe with the iconic version of Aristocrat restaurant. It had a wonderful smokiness to it, and the meat was cooked perfectly. The delicious satay sauce added a nice blend of sweet and nutty to the mix. The Java rice paired with the chicken quite nicely as well.
The big kahuna of Neil's Kitchen's menu, is the TBT: T Bone Tapa with Garlic Rice (P645) . The Tapa marinade seeped into the tender steak meat, giving every bite a phenomenal blend of sweet and salty, then went well with the creaminess of the fried egg. The side order of atchara was a nice compliment to the steak as well.
If you enjoy Batchoy, then the Ayala Alabang "AA" Batchoy (P295) is something you must try. I don't like innards (Picky Eater), so this wasn't really my thing. The broth was quite delicious though.
I played my Picky Eater card once again with the Crab Fat Palabok (P350), so Rina gladly had my share.
Any one who loves Filipino food can't help but be left in awe with the creativity that was put into the Sinigang Noodle Soup (P325). Chef Neil takes the classic sinigang and transforms it into a Sinigang-Ramen hybrid, that works to perfection!
If there's anything that I must give Neil's Kitchen credit for, its helping me see Pinoy desserts in a new light.
I normally wouldn't give this Puto Bungbong with Buco Jelly and Toasted Coconut (P250) a second glance, but I couldn't help but take one bite after another, with the different components working together harmoniously.
The Fried Suman with Mangga and Choconut (P250) is also another must try!
I'm a huge fan of Turon, and Chef Neil's Turon De Napoleon (P195) nearly made me forget my aversion to langka. If Chef Neil could do a version with ube instead of langka, I think that would be even more awesome.
Though I must admit there were some dishes that didn't cater to my palate, I couldn't help but appreciate the skill and technique that my co-pogi new friend, Chef Neil, displayed in preparing the slew of dishes for us.
My only disappointment was when I realized we wouldn't be served the dish I was highly anticipating.. "The BLT: Bacon Longaniza and Tocino". My heart broke into a million pieces, however it gave me yet another reason to visit Neil's Kitchen.. (like I needed any more convincing hehe)
In only a few months, Neil's Kitchen has already become a popular dining hot spot! when we arrived there at 2pm, we still had to wait for roughly around an hour just to be seated!! To think it was already off peak hours..
I'm really excited to see what else Chef Neil has in store for us in the coming months!
Great Words to live by!
Counting the memories.. That's what we do best!
Soft Opening Menu