Located at D-Strip Mall in Kapitolyo, Pasig, Bistro United is a local concept by Round Table and is one of the most intriguing restaurants that opened this year (who wouldn't be intrigued by the Tilapia Ice Cream that keeps bobbing up on Instagram). The big idea behind Bistro United is to epitomize a modern Filipino neighborhood diner serving top-notch Filipino favorites. The restaurant also aims to support local businesses by using ingredients that are locally sourced. Hooking up modern techniques, Executive Chef Mia Capay, engineers local favorites that can compete in the world stage. It's a challenge to make a Filipino dish look beautiful on a plate but Chef Mia's mastery in the kitchen towered above the challenge.
To me, Bistro United is like a picture of a museum with its bright, clean and roomy interior that houses a collection of masterpieces on a plate.
This may be a simple looking dish but do not think too little of this appetizer because each bite will hit your palate with different flavors. Inside each wanton cup is minced pork with ripe mango-tomato salsa on top, signature bagoong Balayan, paprika and sour cream.
CRISPY UBOD SALAD
"A salad for the non-salad eater". A combination of carrots, squash, heart of coconut palm in a wanton crisp. It simulates my mom's favorite lumpiang ubod. A splash of vinaigrette and some candied Iligan nuts takes this humble dish to a different level.
ROASTED SQUASH SOUP
Creamy squash with herbs reminded me of Ginataang Kalabasa. It is topped with bits of Tuguegarao Longganisa to bring a tinge of saltiness to this velvety dish. If you wish to start light and warming, Bistro United's Roasted Squash Soup is perfect.
ROAST BEEF CARBONARA
This had me think back to one of my favorites at Cafe Enye which is Lechon Carbonara. This equally delicious carbonara took a different route with roast beef on top of fettuccini pasta in creamy white sauce. I love the contrasting texture brought by roast beef bits and flakes.
ADOBO SA MANGGA
I don't get excited about adobo when I eat out. It's a staple at home and is there an added value for me to really spend for it at a restaurant? At Bistro United, the answer is one big YES! This is not your usual adobo because it doesn't have the fundamental ingredients in making one. The chicken is grilled then sauteed in green mango puree and bagoong, topped with green mango and garlic served on a sizzling plate.
THE AMAZING ROAST BEEF
Let me tell you why it's amazing. Slices of US prime roast beef is marinated overnight using their own special blend so it thoroughly absorbs all the flavors. The meat is then slow roasted to touch up the taste and soften the meat that will make every bite perfect. Served with either rice or mashed potato, accompanied by au jus gravy.
BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN
What I love about this chicken dish is that the batter firmly hugs the meat, "walang hangin". Boneless breast and thigh are battered and fried to order to ensure that the fried chicken is crisp on the outside, keeping the inside moist and succulent. The chicken is accompanied with three kinds of sauce; Secret Sauce, Hot Damn Sauce and Au Jus Gravy. (Pst! Panalo yung secret sauce! Halo mo sa Hot Damn Sauce para maiyak ka sa sarap!)
DALANDAN CHICKEN WITH UBE RICE
Growing up in Bacolod, I know how to identify chicken inasal versus a regular grilled chicken. Although the menu only characterizes it as grilled chicken, I know and without any doubts that any Ilonggo residing in Manila who gets to try this will feel sentimental. I love that they use dalandan to bring the "asim" element to the dish which Ilonggos love (a fruity sinamak substitute). The acidity is controlled by the signature ube rice served with it. Smart play!
Although I was raised in Bacolod City, my favorite Filipino dish is Kare-Kare and Bistro United's take on this Pinoy favorite is the best I've tried. Sliced roast rolled pork sit atop a delicious vegetable kare-kare (they make their own peanut sauce from scratch). I really love the crackle of the pork skin against the rich and smooth texture of the sauce plus the vegetables are fresh and delicious! Hands down!
BANANA FRITTERS WITH SALTED YEMA
Just like adobo, why would I spend for turon? Trust me, staying away from the usual banana fritters with vanilla ice cream or caramel and using salted yema as an alternative is already enough reason to try this.
TILAPIA ICE CREAM
Okay, I may sound like a broken record but again, I recoil from eating fish and mixing it with vanilla ice cream is just out of this world, crazy! This insane dessert, however, showcased Chef Mia's culinary skills. The ice cream does not have the "lansa" that puts me off but it has the gritty texture of the fish meat. The ice cream is dusted with a little bit of dried chilies that adds a delightful heat to the dessert. In case you're still wondering, it tastes like vanilla ice cream with cheese (my impression). This Tilapia Ice Cream is indeed, a culinary work of art!
I guess you now understand why I am worried to try other restaurants and that's because Bistro United set the bar way too high. They put a lot of thought and effort in each dish and anything that comes out of the kitchen will blow you away, in short "WALANG PATAPON". Bistro United did not modernize well-loved Filipino dishes just to feed the eyes. The only suggestion I have for Bistro United is that they should sell their Tilapia ice cream in pints. :D
Phew! Aching to go back already.
D-Strip Building, 20 United Street,
Kapitolyo, Pasig, Metro Manila