Add "crispy" to any of my favorite Filipino food, and I am sold. The sight of crispy pata and bagnet is just begging for a heaping of white rice. Same can be said with leftover adobo that has been shredded and re-fried to crunchy perfection. So it was an easy feat for C2 Classic Cuisine to win me over with their Crispy Ribs Sinigang (P350), a masterpiece of deep-fried beefy goodness served with cheek-pinching sour broth. It is the dish I use to introduce C2 to my friends and relatives who haven't tried the restaurant. Of course, there are more exciting things in store for you at C2, from beverages right down to their dessert.
While I am very eager and willing to try experimental and fusion dishes, I know some people tend to shake their heads when presented with something unusual. C2 Classic Cuisine easily balances the old and the new by presenting contemporary ideas with favorite Filipino fare -- they keep familiar flavors while introducing a dish with a little twist to it. Nothing too fancy-schmancy, but definitely never boring stuff. I finally have a place where my father, picky 'traditional' eater that he is, can enjoy food alongside my brother and I (the more adventurous ones).
For example, take the Guinumis (P80) and the Salabat Soda (P105). The former is a classic panghimagas that I crave for especially during the summer season. I like the pinipig, coconut milk, and sago combination of this drink more than the popular halo-halo. The latter beverage in the meantime is my favorite because it's a simple solution to give soda drinks an extra fizz. Prepare ginger (salabat) ice cubes and plop them in a tall glass of lemon-lime soda. The result is an extra tickle to the tastebuds after every sip.
The Tinolang Binakol (P285) has an excellent broth. I like my tinola with a lot of ginger, so C2's version does not disappoint. The hint of coconut in the broth did work wonders, with some help from the buko strips. Having the chicken in cutlets saves you from having to "himay" (debone) the chicken, too.
Seared Tilapia in Coconut Emulsion
Another must-try dish at the restaurant with the crispy factor is the Seared Tilapia in Coconut Emulsion (P450). It harmonizes two favorites of mine - coconut cream and crisp textures. Artfully presented in a long platter, the tilapia fillets are stacked in layers, with shoestring potatoes on top. The entire dish is given a sweeter dimension with the pineapple salsa and cocomilk on the side.
Crispy Kare Kare
Oh, and didn't I mention that "crispy" is always a thumbs up in my food encyclopedia? Well, the Crispy Kare Kare (P640) is no exception. The entire dish arrives in separate containers -- the very thick sauce in a bowl; the meat, vegetables and bagoong on the plate. Just pick your ingredients and dump 'em on your plate, and drizzle a generous serving of the sauce. The boneless crispy pata is so sinful. C2 definitely understands that kare kare has to be indulgent, so just sit back and let your tastebuds have the time of their lives.
Bagoong and Adobo Rice
Now, what is Filipino food without rice? I suggets ordering the Bagoong Rice (P75) to go with the kare-kare (it's just the obvious choice), while Adobo Rice (P105) can be paired with fried or sizzling dishes. Their servings of rice are good to share.
Turon ala Mode
If you have space for dessert (which you should, or if ever, you will force yourself to), try their Turon ala Mode (P145) and the Bibingka Souffle (P145). C2 Classic Cuisine re-engineers the humble turon by upgrading the banana with some ube halaya. Also, instead of sugar, they use butterscotch sauce and langka sauce to coat the fried rolls. Served ala mode, this dessert makes for a sweet gooey experience.
And now's the part where I introduce C2's belle of the ball, the award-winning beauty called Bibingka Souffle (P145). You cannot dine at the restaurant without trying this dessert -- it's an award-winning piece, after all. Outside, the souffle looks like a fluffy cloud of foamy sugar. Grab your spoon and dunk it in the middle, and the top part collapses to reveal a saucy center. Drizzle all the contents of the little bowl into the souffle, and mix. A spoonful of this dessert will give you a perfect blend of sweet and salty, the bits of red egg and quezo de bola cutting the sugary sweetness of the the coconut custard. It's a bibingka re-engineered like no other. I know of some people who have tried this version of bibingka and like it above the traditional take.
For the C2 Classic Cuisine fans out there, here's some good news: the Classic Privilege Card is now available. Just have a single or accumulated receipts worth P5,000 (dated August 1 to December 30, 2009), and present them to the cashier (until February 28, 2010). You will be requested to fill up a membership card and once you receive it, you are entitled to special discounts and freebies. According to Chef Oliver, they are also in the process of tweaking the menu, so watch out for new dishes soon!