Literary Eating: Restaurante Pia Y Damaso

By Guest on 16 January, 2009

Smoked Tapang Usa
Tapang Usa from Restaurante Pia Y Damaso

I have eaten in several restaurants inside Greenbelt 5 to say I am familiar with Restaurante Pia Y Damaso. I have never thought of trying it out because their name implies they serve either Filipino or Spanish cuisine, both of which I feel I already eat too much of at home.

Nevertheless, I was excited when I got an invitation to write about the food served at Pia Y Damaso. It gave me an excuse to eat out and at the same time an opportunity to change my view of places that serve Filipino or Spanish fare. I immediately set out to do some research before my planned trip to the restaurant with hopes of maximizing the dining experience. I wanted to pre-select my choice dishes so that I can build the anticipation with each day that passes.

I chose two items out of the restaurants main course selections. The adventurous side of me chose the smoked Tapang Usa (salted deer meat) and my fallback dish was Callos (ox tripe stew).

Callos from Restaurante Pia Y Damaso

They served us the Callos (P300) first when I was there. I could smell the garlic rice from a mile away and watched as the server carried the plate over and laid it in front of me. I had to take an extra whiff of the aroma that filled the air which can only be caused by freshly cooked food. I thought that if the rice already smelled great, I can be hopeful about the actual dish.

The ox tripe stew was served in a deep white bowl which highlighted the rich color of the tomato based dish. It was definitely a delight to see such a boldly colorful version of callos as I must admit my previous encounters with the dish left me with memories of a pale-colored watery stew whose sauce reminds me of what is inside a can of pork and beans (aka Hunts as that is the only one I have tried). Most of the time, the taste would be an even worst disaster than the image I just recalled.

I was not disappointed this time with the callos as the stew was very tasty. The tomatoes have not been cooked to a pulp that you were allowed to have bits and pieces of it with every bite. But it was missing one thing. It was missing that distinct flavor that can only come from stock created out of slowly cooking the ox tripe until it becomes tender. Without that, callos can only be comparable to any other beef stew you have ever tasted (i.e. imagine mechado). And that it was. The taste was pure tomato. Not that I don’t like tomatoes because I really love them, but they are not supposed to be the highlighted ingredient (or I might have been underexposed). Do you watch Iron Chef America? I can imagine myself as Jeffrey Steingarten saying “I just can’t taste the secret ingredient”.

I have not had Tapang Usa (P420) before, or ever, so I really did not know what to expect from my order. My friend teased me about having such an adventurous palate and I comforted myself with the thought that if I love the distinctive flavor of lamb then deer meat should not be too different for me.

My dish came without too much fuss. There was no garlic aroma emanating from the plate and it may be because the garlic rice was fully covered by a mass of bright yellow scrambled eggs. Like a pyramid, the dark brown meat sat on top of the eggs and in turn it was topped with pickled mangoes. I cut a tiny piece of meat to taste before I started my meal. I wanted to know what I got myself into by deciding to order this dish.

The meat was very tender and tasty. I am not sure why I expected something that was either salty or sweet but there was none of that. There was a taste that reminded me of some home cooked meal that I could not immediately put a finger to. If I were to describe it, I would have to say tapang usa tasted like meat that was left out to dry. I am thinking of something similar to making bacon with less of the saltiness.

Knowing I was ok to dive into my food, I tried combining the meat with the rice, meat with eggs and rice, and finally meat with eggs, rice and mangoes. Each spoonful gave me interestingly different experiences that I could only applaud the chef (or whoever created the dish) for capitalizing on how breakfast food almost always hits the spot.

The roasted peppers added some sweetness to the eggs while the slightly sour pickled mango provided the acidity to every bite that refreshes the tongue after all the intense flavors go through. The combination on my plate meshed so well together that I was halfway through my meal when I noticed my friend staring at me and laughing. He was laughing because he was amused at how much I appeared to like eating the tapang usa. And I did. I loved it so much I think I am going to go back and order it again, and again, and again.

Franco’s Note: Many thanks to Apples of Kubiertos

Restaurante Pia Y Damaso
Unit 2-053
Greenbelt 5
Ayala Center, Makati
Telephone: (02) 729-5511

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  • JANUARY 21, 2009 1:22 PM

    Hapi said...

    Happy Wednesday! Bloghoppin' here... Hey, I have an interesting tutorial for you that I have written myself. It is about adding Adsense on your Single Post in XML template. I hope you'll like it! God Bless you!

  • JANUARY 22, 2009 7:44 AM

    Topaz Horizon said...

    I'm a journalist myself. When I was invited to Damaso, the food was amazing. So I brought my husband there for dinner and had the callos and bakalaw. Both were a big disappointment. My hubby teased me and said, "Your standards have gone down but the price range is still up!"

    I thought it was just a fluke so after a month, we went there again. This time, we had the usa and bangus. My brother-in-law had parwns with chocolate sauce. Again, hindi masarap!

    So siguro they only cook well for media, but compare how Damaso is almost always emty while the Fely J beside it, nakapila yung mga tao!

  • JANUARY 22, 2009 7:44 AM

    Frances said...

    (sorry for the typos above!)

  • JANUARY 22, 2009 2:59 PM

    ApplesH said...

    Topaz Horizon - I just want to clarify that I went to Pia Y Damaso as an "ordinary" individual (for lack of a better term) so to give credit to them, I doubt they changed any of their routines just for me. Its unfortunate you did not like the food and as a matter of fact, Damaso was packed at the time that I went there. :)

  • JANUARY 23, 2009 12:39 AM

    Anonymous said...

    Reading some of the comments here, Im kinda sitting on the fence if I should try Damaso. What should I order?