While most people love having their pictures taken with celebrities, I like keeping personal photos taken with extraordinarily large food. I put them in one album-- a sort of a personal Guinness Book of Records I can always look at.
By far, I have a handful of pictures in it. One is showing the struggle on my face as I carry the the metro's biggest mug of iced tea with one hand (It's as heavy as a small dumbell!). Another shows my defeat to an unforgettable meter-long pizza. I have also a picture of the giant halo-halo that once gave me multiple brain freezes. Two of my favorites depict me holding a giant sandwich and balancing a pastry tower. And oh, how can I forget the ridiculous Mt. Nachos I once had?
But just when I thought I've seen the craziest creations of the local chefs, lo and behold, an ice cream that would once again set the bar for “crazy” high up: Bigby's Titanic Treat-- an insane bowl filled with 32 scoops of multi-colored ice cream.
“We pride ourselves in big servings,” Henrik Yu, part-owner of Bigby's declared the obvious as soon as the crazy huge dessert was put down in front of our group.
“Uhuh. I can see that,” I answered him with a face half-dazzled and half-worried.
I was told Bigby's served hefty portions. No one told me they take the word “hefty” that seriously.
Bigby's Cafe and Restaurant was first established in Cagayan de Oro back in the late '90s by husband and wife tandem Henrik and Joanna Yu and their good friend Catherine Genabe. Bigby's started as something they just wanted to try, being dire lovers of food and travel. As soon as the two girls earned their certificates from the culinary course they attended after their college graduation, they headed back to their hometown and introduced American-style comfort food to the market. To their surprise, the restaurant was received well. “You know how it is in the province. Wala namang nag se-serve ng malalaki dun. Bago yun sa kanila,” Henrik fondly recalled Bigby's humble beginnings. Many years and nine provincial branches after, Bigby's finally reached Manila. The big eats at Bigby's can now be had at SM Megamall Atrium. Yay to us Manileños!
Although the owners received technical training in the kitchen, the food at Bigby's remains simple, straightforward and close to the heart. A quick glance at the menu will show food fare that's mostly western. Yes, there's creativity in some dishes but nothing comes across as too fancy.
When I was there with friends, we had Twin Cheese Panini (P239) and the Deep Sea Pasta (P265) as starters.
Twin Cheese Panini
The Twin Cheese Panini is comprised of focaccia slices with generous slices of Gruyere and Mozarella in between. Lovely cheesy things, they simply are. There's an interesting sweetness from the Cagayan De Oro homemade ham to cut through the cheesiness. When ordered alone, this is enough for an afternoon merienda or a filling brunch.
The Deep Sea Pasta, at one bite, became an instant favorite. With garlic, shrimps, and crab fat on it? How can it not be?
Deep Sea Pasta
This sizzling plate with a generous pouring of bright orange sauce looks sinfully rich but it really isn't. The usually strong flavor and aroma of crab fat is well subdued by the more plentiful fresh garlic bits. The use of coco milk as base for the sauce is also to thank for its mellow appeal. Overall, it's flavorful, but not at all cloying. A serving could be shared by two ladies as light lunch.
Bigby's is most famous for its rib platters. With the Rack a Bye Baby priced affordably at P399 for a whole slab and P299 for a half portion, there isn't much to wonder why this plate is an all-time bestseller.
Rack a Bye Baby
Though the ribs aren't literally fall-off-the-bone soft, the meat part is tender enough to come off cleanly with minimal effort. I was told that only the best section of the pig guarantees this. It is well-marinated and glossy with tangy and sweet barbecue sauce. It becomes even better when double-dipped in its accompanying hickory sauce.
At its price, the Rack a Bye Baby is a bang for the buck, especially when shared by two serious carnivores. A heap of rice underneath it guarantees that you'll be filled to the brim at the end of your meal.
For larger groups, there's the Belly Buster (P495), a sampler of the best of Bigby's meat dishes, which can be shared by four hungry people. Imagine sampling the Rack a Bye Baby Ribs, Grilled Rodeo Chops, and Smoked Pork Belly for just over a hundred pesos per person. Now this is what you call sulit!
It was after our group finished devouring the Belly Buster when Henrik asked if we wanted to have the Titanic Treat (P999). According to him, it's a “big, big serving” of ice cream. They currently have a contest for the Titanic Treat in the store. Finish it in five minutes and it's for free. “But! Only two people are allowed to participate,” Henrik reminded.
I was hesitant but the rest of the table is up for it. After around fifteen minutes, two waiters carried it to our table.
“My goodness,” I immediately raised white flag upon seeing purple, pink, brown, and white ice cream stacked atop each other. “There's 32 scoops in total,” Henrik informed us a little too late.
As expected, we lost the ridiculous eating contest. But on the brighter side of things, we enjoyed stuffing ourselves with as much ice cream as we can and I got another picture that will well fit my collection.