Carren's Pitch

Life by Design

12/14/2008

Fine Friends in Pino

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

ONE gift of age (even a little bit of it) is the increased relish when reminiscing with friends. Add a serving of good food and the recipe for a great night is complete. This recipe is exactly what I followed one weekday night.

If I had learned anything from years of planning, it’s that too much only makes it worse. So, on a rare occasion when I am in a sociable mood, I booked a friend, I booked the day, and I booked the place. None of these three were comfort zones in the least. The friend was one I hadn’t seen in the longest time. Buried under the law books of Rockwell, he seems to have started his inevitable ascent into the land of the living after his bar exam. The day was a random date, based on mutual availability. The place was one I would never know to get to without extra guidance. It was also happily owned by another friend turned restaurateur and chef.

I looked forward to the prospect of seeing old friends and sharing a good meal. I imagined wine, mistakenly thinking Pino was spelled Pinot. I was disappointed, but the food more than made up for the failed expectation.

Pino is a cozy restaurant hidden in plain sight a block away from a school on Maginhawa Street. In the dead of night, one could easily miss the sign. Good thing I brought along directions straight from the chef.

Inside, the restaurant gave way to simple illustrations on the wall, proudly doodled by WeeWillDoodle. It was great in-store advertising, I thought. Subtle and playful. Loyally following the chef’s recommendations, we ordered the Kare-Kareng Bagnet and Tapsilog. What came out from the kitchen was unlike any kare-kare or tapsilog I had seen. It was beautifully nestled on clean white plates, offsetting its vibrant color. Once consumed, the food was equally flavorful. I also appreciated the hint of freshness the bits of mango added onto the Tapsilog’s rice. For dessert, Chocolate Tempura was on the menu. Like its namesake, sweet fried batter covered a tasty cut of KitKat, an appropriate ending to a beautiful night. The affordable bill afterward only sweetened the deal. It looks like I’ve found a nice little corner for good food, fit for great company.

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