Entrepreneur and former PBB star Kian Kazemi reconnects with his Filipino roots through his Poblacion restaurant, Lobo Filipino Tavern. Located along Durban street right next to workspace-resto Wokby 4900 (which he also co-owns), Lobo pays tribute to Kazemi's Filipino mother, a great cook who filled Kian's childhood with good comfort food that is simply the best when served with heapings of rice. At Lobo, they serve affordable 'progressive' Filipino food — nothing fancy here, but down home comforting eats with little fun twists here and there. It's the kind of food good to share over a round of drinks (or more, depending how your day has been).
On your next visit to Poblacion for a foodtrip, come hungry and bring your wolfpack along to Lobo and try these six dishes — they're all for sharing and won't burn a hole in your wallet, too!
1. Kesong Puti (P85): these skewers of lightly breaded carabao white cheese gets the chicken inasal treatment — slathered with the orange-tinged garlicky achuete oil, then charcoal-grilled for a smokey finish.
2. Stuffed Stuffed with Black Ink Rice (P175): another item from their inihaw line, this inky squid is a steal for less than 200 Pesos! The slits on the squid reveal a stuffing of rice laced with squid ink, and the serving of soy sauce, calamansi, and sili for dipping makes this a complete seafood meal you can already imagine digging into by the beachside.
3. Baba's Boneless Bangus (P225): I'm a sucker for anything milkfish, especially one cooked in a lot of garlic. Lobo's bangus is extra special, the Dagupan fish abundant in garlic before being grilled in a banana leaf. You get this earthy, smokey finish with every bite and the spicy vinegar ties everything well. White rice is the best partner for this (and a cold bottle of beer).
4. Pasta Negra (P185): Once you go black with pasta in Lobo, you will be spoiled. Their squid ink spaghetti is one mighty fine version, extremely luscious and saucy and dowright delicious. There's a hint of coconut milk that makes each bite more memorable, and once you've squeezed some calamansi or the orange topping, each forkful becomes incredibly flavorful and nuanced.
5. Lobo's Lamb Adobo (P275): adobo here uses Australian lamb decked with garlic cloves, and while it is not as saucy as your typical adobo, it does deliver interesting flavors, and that it is ginataan (cooked in coconut milk) is another way it stands out. The lamb adobo is served with pickled mango and atchara, and as all good ulams go, must be consumed with ample amounts of rice.
6. Signature Kare-Kare (P295): While I admit that I'm not the biggest fan of kare-kare, the saucy dish will always become something to look forward to when it's done the classic, slow-cooked way — real peanut sauce becomes the highlight here, and you have your beef in three cuts: short ribs, tripe, and tongue. Each piece of meat is tender, and the bagoong that comes with it has just enough salty and sweet to play off well with the thick and savory sauce.
Visit Lobo Filipino Tavern at 4898 Durban Street, Poblacion, Makati. The restaurant is open daily from 5pm to 3am. Call 805-9380, like Lobo on Facebook (/LoboFilipinoTavern) and follow on Instagram (@lobo_filipino_tavern).