I had no idea what Balkan cuisine was. I probably still don’t. So when I found out that a Balkan restaurant opened up I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was it was near the house and that it’s owned by Marko Batricevic, a former basketball player for the De La Salle Green Archers. So on a sunny Sunday afternoon we headed over to Balkan Express at 87 Jose Abad Santos street corner Mons street for a righteous lunch. I came prepared too. I didn’t have any breakfast so I could stuff myself senseless with food I have yet to figure out how to pronounce.
If you’re familiar with the surroundings of Xavier school and ICA, this place isn’t at all hard to find. But if you plan on cutting a path through the web that is Little Baguio, I suggest you consult Google Maps or something first. I’ve lived in Greenhills all my life and I sometimes still get lost in that area. I suggest getting there from Wilson street or Ortigas avenue to make things a little easier.
The place is pleasantly quaint and bright and I can imagine it getting really packed on a busy Sunday afternoon. Fortunately we got there a little bit after lunch hour so getting a table wasn’t a problem. From the car, I made a beeline towards the counter and started to study the menu. Filled with names I wouldn’t dare attempt to pronounce, I focused my attention on the descriptions below the items. Fortunately, Marko was there to assist us with descriptions. Some items there like the Musaka (195 - made to order) are only available if you order one day ahead, so that I will have to try another day. After hearing descriptions about the menu I was very pleased to learn that most if not all the food there involved copious amounts of meat. We ordered three items and sat down.
My sister and I split the Goulash (P230). It was a big bowl of huge chunks of beef and pasta in a very thick beef stew. Right off the bat I figured that subtlety wouldn’t be much of a factor in the food we ordered and I liked it. Eating this for starters struck a chord in something very primal in me. I felt like a caveman. A caveman eating cooked food in a ceramic bowl. With a spoon.
We got to taste next the Pljeskavica (P180). You’re probably trying to pronounce it in your head right now. Let’s just call it the Serbian burger, okay? That’s what is, anyway, technically. It’s a grilled Serbian burger served with the usual onion, lettuce & tomato with a helping of fries. The servings here are rather generous and you could probably split this with someone else if you’re not that hungry. The patty doesn’t taste like your usual burger joint patty, and it is because of this that I like it. Personally, I’m not too crazy with patties that disintegrate on you the further you are along with eating your burger. That is why I loved how the patty was firm but had enough give to it, without having to resort to picking up burger pieces from your plate.
This was my order, the Cevapcici (P180). It’s relatively easier to pronounce (the Cs are pronounces as CHs). It’s served like a burger but instead of a patty, they put sausages made from minced meat, so I guess you could call it a 'sausage burger' even though it kind of doesn’t make sense to call it that. Like the Pljeskavica (read: Serbian burger), it’s got a—I guess you could call it Balkan flavor—that comes from whatever seasoning they put in the meat. I liked this the best although I have yet to try the other items they offer.
All this meat made me think that it might be awesome to have beer with the food although beer on an early Sunday afternoon seems a little bit off. They do serve beer though (Beer - P50) and are open until 10 in the evening.
I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back to Balkan Express again. Next time, I think I’ll call ahead so I can get to taste the other food they have to offer.