Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Meal in the City: "Crispy Dinuguan" at Kanin Club, UP-Ayala Technohub

I have realized that UP-Diliman seems to be one of those places that attracts good eats. I'm lucky that I can still go back to the old uni, enjoy its sights and sounds and the bustle of student life, and then drop in on one or another of my old haunts for an always-satisfying meal.

Now UPD's sphere of eating influence is expanding to the swank new BPO campus nearby. Named the UP-Ayala Technohub, it's a bunch of call-center locations and office space, clustered around a retail services hub: there are banks, a beauty salon, a 24-hour convenience shop that also doubles as a small pharmacy, a gaming center, and a bookstore.

And food outlets. This is the Philippines. Mustn't forget the food outlets.

On a recent weekend my partner and I dropped in at the Technohub to try one of its newest tenants, called Kanin Club. "Kanin" is the Filipino word for rice, and we eat a lot of it. We're a lot like the Japanese: no meal is complete without rice (a bowlful of white is standard, or several mouthfuls if you're eating sushi, or mixed with all sorts of things up to and including raw eggs and/or natto).

Kanin Club has already achieved a measure of fame in food-obsessed Metro Manila, but previously it had been dauntingly unreachable because the only branches had been rather...FAR...South. The type of far that needs a car because one needs to drive down a tollway to reach it, or the type of far that needs to cross into ANOTHER PROVINCE just to get there.

And that just hadn't been possible for us - until now.

Sunday lunchtime at this newly opened branch and the place was already getting packed. It was promising to see that most of the tables had been pushed together so that whole families could dig into Filipino food with a twist.

Warning for the faint of heart: Filipinos like to eat, er, strange things.

One of the specialties of the house at Kanin Club is their Crispy Dinuguan. "Dinuguan" is, essentially, pork and innards cooked together and then dropped into a stew with pork blood as the major thickening agent. The blood is cooked with spices and vinegar, boiled down slightly, and then mixed with the meat. And many households like to put in a few finger chilies to add more heat and flavor to the stew.

Still with me so far? Good. You MUST try this dish. The reason why Kanin Club calls its Dinuguan Crispy is because they make it with pork and innards that were first DEEP-FRIED to crackling perfection. You could HEAR the crunching going on at several tables, all of which had ordered the specialty of the house. The crunch enhances the essential savory nature of the pork meat and emphasizes the tastes of the various bits of innards and organs perfectly.

And the pork blood! Good, good, good. Faintly gamy and faintly sour, it's full of a deep, elaborate flavor that goes just perfectly with bowls and bowls of plain white rice. The folks at Kanin Club have come up with a mix of vinegar and spices that really brings out the inherent savor of the blood. It's so rich that you might only want a bite or two - but it's so flavorful that you keep eating the whole thing.

I loved every bite of this and will go back again for it. And you should try it, too - don't let the blood put you off. This is good Filipino food.


Emrys said...

A friend of mine just pointed this location out to me. Now I'm really hungry. Do you review locations outside of the UP Diliman area?

PJ Punla said...

@ Emrys

I certainly intend to. It's a coincidence that the first two Meal in the City posts were located in and and around the UPD area.

I actually live in Novaliches and work in the Scout Area, so those locations are fair game for reviews too. :) I'm making lists. If you've got suggestions, I'll be happy to include them.