I often thought it was crazy to walk into a restaurant, read their menu, and proudly say, “I’ll have everything on it.” After a dinner at Del's Kitchen, even you’d be tempted to share my frustrated-foodie ambition.
Located along the stretch of J. Elizalde Street in B.F. Homes is Del's Kitchen, a house-turned-restaurant that offers its diners to enjoy a selection of comfort food within a cozy environment.
I dropped by on a Saturday night with my brother and got the chance to meet the minds behind the homey haven. Del’s Kitchen is the brainchild of high school barkada mates Julius Lopez and Deb Gutierrez who wanted to explore a business venture of their own. Using Deb’s residence and their combined love for cooking and eating, they transformed Deb’s home sala into the dining area and named the restaurant after Deb’s mother. “We just took out the furniture and kept everything that was here before,” explains Julius. The result of the re-invention is the restaurant’s signature and restful feel.
Since its opening weekend, the usual crowd of diners varies from families who want to enjoy a hearty dinner to couples who are even given the restaurant’s “date table” by the window. Upon entering the wooden doors, diners are immediately greeted and accommodated by the friendly staff. Having no other way to put it: every diner feels the pleasure of being welcomed into another home where they know they will be ridiculously spoiled with good food.
A Twist to the Familiar Food Trip
The menu boasts of dishes that are “home-grown” favorites guaranteed to suit anyone’s palette. We first had the All-in Salad (P140) which had the usual fixings of greens, tomatoes, quail eggs, and cucumber tossed with squid rings, fish cuts and boiled shrimp. This colorful ensemble was decorated with a generous serving of a zesty mustard dressing. After it was served, I sat and admired the presentation. “This is too pretty to touch or eat,” I said.
The Shrimp Bisque (P155) - another “pretty boy” among the soups and salads- came in a deep-shaped bowl that showcased the bright color of the orange soup. Garnished with a few sprinkles of herbs, the dish’s creamy consistency adds to the rich interplay of favors while still keeping it light and subtle to the stomach. It’s every shrimp lover’s fantasy in a bowl.
The appetizers are just as tantalizing, too. The Nobu’s Shrimp Tempura (P275) was unlike all the other tempuras I’ve known. Instead of being dipped in flour batter, the Shrimp Tempura is coated in a various seasonings and fried to give it its signature golden brown color. “This one’s got a kick to it,” I told them after taking a bit and experiencing a mild spicy aftertaste. It is then served alongside a homemade Worcestershire sauce-inspired dip that further enthuses the taste buds. Truly, a different take to a familiar favorite.
Nobu's Shrimp Tempura
Mushroom and Garlic Salpicao (P155) arrived on a sizzling plate. Up close, we can still see the bubbling butter oozing from the mushrooms. It may become a favorite among the appetizers for its simple presentation, yet the garlic-and-butter-infused aroma makes it undeniable to dig in as soon as it is served.
Mushroom and Garlic Salpicao
Pasta lovers can enjoy the menu’s homage to the Italian masters with its selections. They can go crazy with the cream-based and béchamel rich choices in the Surf Lasagna (P215) and Chef’s Tuna Carbonara fettuccini (P145). I sampled the Mussels Putanesca (P155) where linguine pasta is tossed in an herb and tomato-based sauce. An order can be either tweaked to be mild or spicy – depending on the diner’s preference and love for spicy sauces.
Chicken ala Mexicana (P235) is another favorite. Boneless chicken leg quarters that have been marinated in a sauce of herbs and spices and grilled to tender perfection are served with flour tortillas and a corn and mango relish. Being a lover of tex-mex cuisine, it was a delight to have since it looked like my own “fajita factory” on a plate. Diners have the option of eating the three servings individually or playfully make their own “ala Mexicana” wrap to experience the interplay of different flavors encompassed in the dish.
Chicken ala Mexicana
The Osso Bucco (P425) is a salute to the voracious carnivores. With a beef shank braised in wine and cooked to tender perfection, it is served with mashed potatoes and dried greens with parmesan cheese on the side for color. The dish is hearty enough to share for two people.
Capping off the meal was a serving of their house specialty, the Crispy Bagnet Kare Kare with Aligue (P295). Again, de-familiarizing the (typical) diner who associates Kare Kare with a stew, the dish has decadent and crispy pork belly pieces with vegetables that are topped with the flavorful peanut sauce. The generous portions of typical fixings such as bagoong and aligue are served on the side. It is a tribute to the home-cooked Filipino dish with a touch of gourmet panache.
Crispy Bagnet Kare Kare with Aligue
The Dessert sampler platter had sample servings of the menu’s sweet concoctions: from the familiar favorites in carrot cake, lemon squares and chocolate chip cookies to the indulgent delights of their Dulce de Leche and Blueberry cheesecakes. The Triple-decker Chocolate cheesecake (P155) has also been recognized as a sinful treat and a delectable favorite among the chocolate enthusiasts and non-aficionados alike.
Dessert sampler platter
Triple-decker Chocolate cheesecake
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the vast selection that arrangements have been made to satisfy the diners’ “little bit of everything” curiosity and craving. Every weekend, they have Degustation Sets that feature items from their menu. Those who choose to order from a set are treated to sample menu servings of their feature appetizers, a main course, and a dessert. Eliminating the possibility of going into a gustatory frenzy, the Degustation Sets adds to the restaurant’s features of having its diners to simply relax and enjoy the dining experience. With Del’s Kitchen, “coming home to good food” has never been this much of a delightful guilty pleasure.