Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hunt for Savory Filipino Food

This past Saturday, I ventured out some more towards Abu Dhabi city center. By way of internet search, I had put together a list of addresses for a few Filipino restaurants in Abu Dhabi. The first one I came across was Oriental Korner. It's a small restaurant with a capacity of about 30 to 40 people. They also provide delivery services. I had read that this place was a favorite hangout for Filipino expats looking for a taste of back home. I also read a few good reviews about this restaurant.

The verdict? Not so good. It pales in comparison to the typical Filipino food establishments such as Jolibee or Chow King. For lunch, I had ordered kare-kare, a concoction of oxtail, beef tripe, eggplant, string beans, and other green leafy vegetables in a soupy peanut sauce, served separately with a shrimp paste condiment. It was too soupy and lacking the green leafy vegetables. There was only one piece of oxtail; the rest were cut-up neck bones and various tripe pieces.

I also ordered pancit palabok - again, a disappointment. The noodles were overcooked; the thick pancit noodles should be al dente for this dish. The dish was swimming it its sauce. The dish should not be overwhelmed with the sauce. It should just thinly spread over the noodles as the dish is mixed together. It did not have the right food coloring agent, achuete, and its associated flavor. Also missing from the dish were chopped spring onions, morsels of smoked fish (large rings of squid were substituted), and crushed pork cracklings (chicharon). Except for the chicharon, all the other ingredients should be readily available here.

For dessert, I had a serving of halo-halo -- a mixture of crushed ice, various sweetened items (gelatin, beans, purple yam, sago (tapioca), etc.), sugar, and evaporated milk. First of all, I should have told them to hold off on the sugar. The dessert was sweet enough from all the pre-sweetened fillings. I think I got two weeks worth of my normal fix of sweets. Secondly, the ice was blended to almost puree state. The thrill of eating halo-halo is the crunching of the small specks of ice in your mouth as you eat it. Although a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a large spoonful of leche flan topped off the dessert, the other fillings were mainly multi-colored gulaman (gelatin).

I ate about 2/3 of the kare-kare, and barely half of the pancit palabok and the halo-halo. The cost for each menu item: 18 dirhams (dhs) for the kare-kare, 12 dhs for the pancit, 5 dhs for a bowl of rice, and 8 dhs for the halo-halo, or a total of 55 dhs (about $15), including a bottled water and tip. So the price was not bad. They also serve several combination dishes of rice with one or two side dishes, which were reasonably priced. There were only a few people in the restaurant. It probably gets more customers as the day cools a bit later in the afternoon and early evening.

I've not given up on this establishment. I will try their other selections next time I am in the area. In the meantime, I will venture some more and check out the other Filipino restaurants in the area.


  1. If you can find a branch of Foo King restaurant in the United Arab Emirates, try 'em. It's a good place, decent and they serve Foo King good foods.

  2. You should also stop by the Sofa King. You can get sofas elsewhere, but they are not Sofa King cheap or Sofa King comfortable.