Episode 72: A Pilgrimage for Unique Filipino Food at St. Nicholas


St. Nicholas Restaurant is, perhaps, one of the most interesting places that the crew of “Foods Tayo”.  The restaurant is sought after for serving Filipino cuisine with a unique twist. Now, I for one have been through several Filipino specialty restaurants, and we have covered other similar places, but St. Nicholas definitely is on a class of its own, so to speak.

The restaurant is neatly hidden at a subdivision in Mandaluyong. The place resembles an old-fashioned Filipino house, pimped up with a fancy garden with an Al Fresco set-up, statues of Catholic saints, a golden Buddha, curtains, antiques, and other Asian-inspired decorations.

Much of the place is lit up by small, colorful lanterns. There’s a smaller garden inside the main dining area, and a small stage on the other side. Kundiman music plays in the background, giving the restaurant an old-school Filipino feel. It’s an ideal place for a nighttime dinner date.

Chef Nick Pelaez is the sole owner, general manager, and executive chef of St. Nicholas, which was named after his late father. He has managed the restaurant’s catering services for ten years (though the restaurant itself opened only last April).

Chef Nick introduced us to some of St. Nicholas’ specialties. First his chefs held for us a short demo on how to cook Tinola sa Pakwan, chicken tinola sweetened with watermelon slices.

Next up was their Ensaladang Gulay, vegetable salad with native fish bagoong.

Then there’s Chicken and Pork Adobo sa Dilaw, an adobo recipe that uses turmeric instead of the usual vinegar and soy sauce combo.

We also had a platter of Okoy, deep-fried vegetable fritters for appetizers, while for dessert, we had Turon with chocolate dip.

The vegetable salad is as simple as it gets, but there’s something about the bagoong that makes it special. The okoy is crispy and delectable, especially when dipped in vinegar (I preferred the okoy plain though). The Adobo sa Dilaw leaves a fragrant, appetizing aftertaste in the palate that is way different from the adobo we’re all accustomed to.
The Tinola sa Pakwan, on the other hand, is a mystery to me. It’s basically a bowlful of distinct but matching flavors. The broth is sweet, thanks to the watermelon juice and bits, but the rich and gingery taste that is familiarly tinola lingers in every sip. It gives off some sort of rush of familiar and new flavors, which is probably why this tinola is one of their best-sellers.
Aside from the usual Filipino dishes, St. Nicholas serves exotic viands for more adventurous foodies. Dishes to look out for include Adobong Crocodile Meat, Crocodile Sisig, and Tapang Kabayo. Stuff like these deserve a bottle or two of San Miguel Beer to wash down.
The best part about St. Nicholas is that it’s open 24 hours a day, and to accommodate the cravings of night owls and early birds for Filipino cuisine, they serve rice bowls for as low as P65 each.
Also, if you want to spice up your wedding, birthday party, or family gathering with a luxuriously Filipino feast, St. Nicholas offers catering services at reasonable prices, and your group can dine on site too.
Visiting St. Nicholas Restaurant admittedly requires patience and a good sense of direction, pretty much like a pilgrimage to its namesake saint, but once you’re able to drink in to your surroundings and wait in anticipation for your food, you’ll be surprised that it’s worth the trip. It’s a great place to savor Filipino food any time of the day in a unique form and setting.
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St. Nicholas Restaurant / Catering Services
#4 Fatima corner San Rafael Street,
Plainview Subdivision, Mandaluyong City
Tel. No.: 535-7637 / 788-6426 / 569-1437
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