Riddles Over Steamed Cakes

“People who love to eat are always the best people.” – Julia Child

After moving into my new job, I have to admit that I do miss my teammates from where I used to work. Before I left, I made them promise never to forget me and that we will always make it a point to find time to bond.

Two and a half years ago, Jana and I were hired as internal auditors of a bank. She was hired two weeks ahead of me though. We were together for our first and second assignments and relied on each other greatly as we learned the ropes of our job. You could say that we have formed quite a bond after everything we have been through at work.

IMG_4326Last month, I got to visit my old workplace and asked Jana to have lunch with me. By that time, we have not seen each other for almost a month and I terribly missed her so. Our feet led us to XO 46 Heritage Bistro in Makati.

Having an English name, I did not expect the restaurant’s atmosphere and ambiance to be heavily Filipino. The servers wore barong Tagalog and Filipiniana gowns. They also had huge smiles on their faces as they curtsied to the customers and greeted them in straight, deep Filipino. 18699308_464711953867983_3013890903851372601_oThe menu made use of the Filipino names of the food they served although the descriptions were in English, probably to help the foreigners have an idea of what the food was made of.

It felt good to catch up with my friend. I terribly missed going home with her. Since her home was in the street next to my place, we shared Uber rides going home every time we were both at the head office. When we worked on weekends, she sometimes brought her car and would pick me up so we can go to the office together. IMG_4329We had lots of plans about stuff to do and restaurants to try but our busy schedules sometime prevented those plans from materializing.

We were served these cute little steamed cakes called puto along with plain and garlic butter. With these appetizers was a rolled piece of paper containing a bugtong (riddle). In the olden times, Filipinos bonded by guessing what the riddles referred to.

For our actual lunch, we ordered Crispy Binagoongan (crispy fried pork tossed in shrimp paste) and Tokwa’t Baboy XO Style (tofu and pork). I am realizing only now how unhealthy our choice of combination was. At least the tofu and pork were accompanied by lots of veggies. Ha-ha!

Crispy Binagoongan (left) and Tokwa’t Baboy XO Style (right).

Theirs was the best binagoongan I have ever tried.The shrimp paste where the crispy fried pork was tossed was not overly fishy. The amount of shrimp paste used was also just right to give the meat a light coating so it was not overwhelmingly salty.

The pork and tofu dish was also delicious. Normally, I only eat the sizzling tofu from Max’s Restaurant (my absolute favorite tofu dish!) and avoid all other fried tofu dishes because I am picky when it comes to that food. This one though, I absolutely liked (although the sizzling tofu is still more delicious in my opinion).

We had a good time talking about new assignments, new challenges and new activities we plan to take together with our other good friends. Conversations do get better when accompanied with really good food.

The food served by the restaurant are truly a bit on the pricey side. I don’t think a regular employee would drop by every day for lunch here because that will really damage one’s budget. From time to time though, one may wish to treat himself/herself to really delicious food. This place looks promising and judging by how packed it was when we went there to eat, I guess it’s worth the price.

My only disappointment though was that the servers tended to look down or focus solely on whatever task they had in mind. For that reason, they would sometimes fail to notice when a customer is trying to get their attention. I believe I spent a good five minutes calling out or waving at the servers to get our bill before somebody approached us. That is something that can be worked on though.

Have you tried eating in XO 46 Heritage Bistro or any other Filipino restaurant? What were your favorite dishes?

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