Comfort Food: Northbound Dining

By franco on 25 June, 2008

Fried Bean Curd Skins in Oyster Sauce from North Park
Fried Bean Curd with Shitake Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce

Franco’s Note: Small change this month. The Three will be writing about comfort food we love–where we go or what we make when we need the soothing fix that our favorite foods can provide. Enjoy.

I’m sitting at a table of female fashionistas, feeling a bit out of place.

When a fashion editor turns to me (trying to make polite small talk) and asks, “So I hear you are a serious foodie, what restaurant do you like?” Without batting an eye, I respond, “North Park.” She looks surprised by my answer. “North Park?! I thought you were serious about food?”she inquires in a perturbed tone. After a moment of thought, I turn myself toward her and say, “I love food. And why not North Park? The service staff is fast, polite and efficient. The decor is functional yet stylish and the food is great value and consistently good. What more could anyone ask for? ” End of small talk.

When people label of you as a foodie, they always assume that your choice of favorite restaurant will be formal, expensive and always fine dining. Admittedly, I do enjoy the Antonios’, Lolo Dads’ and Tsumuras of the world. Believe me if I could eat at such places more often, I probably would. But honestly, who could possibly afford it? Beside, isn’t too much of a good thing just too much?

I’m getting off point.

As I’ve said before, the one thing that any restaurant guest wants (beyond the obvious: delicious food, great service and interesting ambiance) is consistency. Sometimes, all I want is the comfort that comes with the knowledge that when I sit down for a meal, I know exactly what I’m getting. More often than not, it’s always satisfyingly delicious. So, why not North Park?

The order is always the same. The ever-reliable Pinsec Frito (P67 for 4) and the crispy-on-the-outside-but-tender-on-the-inside Salted Garlic Squid (P165) are definitely must-orders.

But what I truly love are the Fried Bean Curd Skins with Shitake Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce (P114) and King Dao Spareribs (P160). It’s hard to resist biting into those deep fried bean curd skins shaped into cocoons of airy crunchiness. Accompanied by the contrasting texture of the soft, smooth shitakes and lightly covered with a sweet, tangy oyster sauce, this dish is North Park simplicity at its tastiest. Maybe it’s the pork covered in gooey, red glaze? Or maybe I just love eating my food with my hands? Whatever the reason, I love the King Dao Spareribs. Normally, I have an aversion for brightly colored food. But this Cantonese dish of deep fried pork ribs keeps calling my name every time I visit. There are many other items I haven’t tried on the menu but why struggle against the urge?

King Dao Spareribs from North Park by Table For Three, Please
King Dao Spareribs

There are as many definitions of comfort food as there are people. For some, comfort food is feasting on mom’s steaming hot, home-cooked tinola at the family table. For others, it’s a garlic and cheese, thin-crust pizza shared with friends. While for others, it’s munching on a warm chocolate chip cooke while in bed, snuggled under the blankets. However you define comfort food, it’s always about savoring the memories, the emotions and the sense of well-being that only these foods can provide.

North Park

P. Guevarra Street

San Juan, Metro Manila

Telephone: (02) 73737 (for delivery)

LABELS: , , , ,



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  • JUNE 25, 2008 2:27 AM

    Socky said...

    I can so relate with you. I love North Park's Garlic Squid, Pinsec Frito and Tofu Skin. When friends come over and I'm not cooking, that's my default delivery food. And I love the leftovers, that is if my guests don't wipe out everything.

  • JUNE 25, 2008 2:57 AM

    Sakai said...

    i lvoe the sweet and sour fish fillet and the salted fish friend rice without peas.....

  • JUNE 25, 2008 4:15 AM

    ayen said...

    North Park is also my comfort food. I love their toast noodles, yang chow rice, spicy squid and siomai. And now I realize that I still haven't made an entry about it. Not all expensive restaurants are good. They should be, but not necessarily that they are.

  • JUNE 25, 2008 10:25 AM

    Franco said...

    Hi Socky. I don't think we've ever had leftovers. :)

    Hi Sakai. I'll try them out, if I ever decide to order something else. :)Which I imagine won't happen soon.

    Hi Ayen. Sadly, sometimes expensive restaurants are just simply expensive. :(

  • JUNE 26, 2008 3:02 AM

    Lori said...

    I know exactly what you mean. Since I'm a food writer, I get even more perturbed looks when I reveal what my favorite restaurant is:

    Pancake House.

  • JUNE 26, 2008 6:35 AM

    Cushee said...

    I agree with you on consistency and taste and it being a comfort food.

    End of small talk. *Smile*

  • JUNE 26, 2008 11:53 PM

    mtan said...

    I always order the steamed dumplings, the salt and pepper ribs and the spicy squid. I call it my late night, rainy day comfort food. Plus have you had their century egg-pickled cabbage congee when you're sick? Perfect.

  • JUNE 27, 2008 3:00 AM

    Socky said...

    I always over-order, he-he.

  • JUNE 27, 2008 5:49 AM

    ragamuffin girl said...

    I totally agree with you Franco about consistency. My fave restos here in HK do not exactly merit 5 stars for ambiance or service but if the food is consistent, I'm happy, very happy. And some hyped-up places do suck! And I tell them so. I especially hate paying top (HK)dollar for lousy food. Service I can forgive, living in HK and all. I like North Park's king dao spareibs. And Pancake House's waffles, pancakes, tacos and fried chicken.

  • JUNE 27, 2008 9:17 AM

    Katrina said...

    Socky, we always over-order from North Park, too! We don't always get the same dishes, as we like to try different things. But we ALWAYS get the Salted Fish Fried Rice. Recently, my friends and I had North Park deliver our dinner. They were ordering the usual dishes, and of course, the usual Yang Chow rice, as well. I said that my one request is the Salted Fish rice. None of them had tried it (!!!), so they got one bowl of that, and one bowl of Yang Chow. As I expected, once they tasted it, "my" rice was the first to disappear.

    Oh, and for comfort food dessert from NP, I get the fried bread with "cream" (really condensed milk). Seems overkill to have bread after all that rice, but it's a yummy way to go into a food coma. :-)

  • JUNE 28, 2008 10:36 AM

    ApplesH said...

    Ditto on the King Dao Spareribs. Its never missing from our order when we eat at North Park. Yummm.

  • JUNE 29, 2008 5:24 AM

    Franco said...

    Hi Lori. I love Pancake House. Love the new branch in Bonifacio High Street. Great vibe.

    Hi Cushee. I wish all restaurant were more consistent. Btw, I think mentioned fashion editor doesn't like me much anymore.

    Hi Mila. I find it funny that we can write about all these fancy, out-of-the-way places and yet, the most reactions we get are for places like North Park. :)

    Hi Socky. No such thing as over-ordering in my household.:) Everthing disappears.

    Hi ragamuffin girl. Will be in your neck of the woods soon. :)

    Hi Katrina. Chinese bread pudding? Sound interesting.

    Hi applesh. After reading the comments, I'm considering trying other menu items...or maybe not. :)

  • JUNE 30, 2008 1:44 AM

    mtan said...

    Franco, ooo! hk food binging! Have a great time and hope to see the photos. The fried bread and condensed milk isn't a pudding, it's just fried mantou dipped into a bowl of condensed milk. One of the best chinese desserts in my books, but I only learned about it when I was living in China! Imagine how glad I was to find they served it in NP too!