Regina Bldg., Maharlika St., Sindalan, San Fernando City, Pampanga
- 3 Reviews
- 0 Recommend
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Den Lim's Kitchen is indeed a gasrtronomic feast in itself.The delicious food that he serves per group or family is always a reason why people go back regardless if you have to wait for a year just to get a reservation.Ambiance is awesome! You get that "Tuscany feel" and the "organized clutter" of all his collections from cookbooks,cookwares,kitchen utensils,plates and what not makes it more appealing.I tell you,his collections are endless!
Cashew salad,Shrimp Scampi ,Cave Man's Shank,Smoked Fish and Chili Pasta,Mexican Chicken Wings and of course the bomb ...which was the Pugon Wrap was a delight ! We all ate with "gusto" with good old 80's music as our background.Isn't that cool!
I wouldn't mind waiting for another year just to take a glimpse of Den Lim's Kitchen and eat my heart out with his delectable dishes! Truly a highly recommended place and one best reason to go to Pampanga!
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This is the restaurant with a 1-year waiting list. Seriously. And I hadn't even heard of this place until two weeks ago. It was merely by chance that I got to go. The owner (Dennis Lim, hence the name of the kitchen) hosts only private dinners for a minimum of 12 persons and maximum of 34. Last Saturday, I came with my officemates, Kenny M Richie R and Mars, but the rest I didn't know from Adam. They were friends of friends gathered to reach the minimum number of diners required. But as I've learned from Looloo, eating with total strangers who happen to love good food as much as I do can be a lot of fun. People generally tend to be in a good mood all throughout.
We had a pre-ordered 10-course meal consisting of the following:
1. Focaccia bread and banana blossom spread. Maybe we were too eager, but the bread quickly ran out.
2. Mussels 420. Mussels in spicy sauce topped with a thick layer of melted cheese. I don't normally eat mussels because I have a weak tummy, but this I could not resist. When you're done stuffing yourself with cheese (and more cheese) on mussels, you can mop the leftover sauce with the bread. Must be why bread became scarce. Oh, it's called 420 because Den had served it on April 20 this year and, not having thought of a proper name for it then, simply adopted the date.
3. Summer salad. Greens, candied walnuts, shredded turnips, sliced apples, black sesame, raisins, cheese, and toasted pinipig with yoghurt and sour cream dressing. This was a welcome break from the vinaigrette dressing that seems to coat most salads nowadays. The milky flavor from the cheese and yoghurt was a good counterpoint to the spiciness of the previous dish. With the toasted pinipig, this almost seemed like a dish fit for breakfast. I loved this salad (and I wish I'd eaten the little that was left on the dish before the server swiped it from right under my nose)!
4. Shrimp corrito. Loads of perfectly cooked shrimps with chopped bacon and sun-dried tomatoes. If you love shrimps (like I do), this dish is heaven on a plate! I had to hold back a little though because it seemed that, unlike some multiple course meals I've tried where there are hills and valleys, this is just one continuous build-up to something I may not have the fortitude to endure.
5. Pasta Socorro. We read this from Rajo Laurel's review and requested Den if he can include it in our line-up. Perfectly cooked pasta with blue cheese and crumbles of longganisang calumpit. I thought this was a great way to incorporate local flavors in an otherwise foreign dish. The garlicky flavor from the longganisa and the richness of the blue cheese made for a very bold dish.
6. Broiled salmon. I love salmon and this dish nearly made me cry. The salmon was moist and had a delicious sweet and spicy torched crust on top (very much like the top of a creme brulee). I wanted to eat more, so much more, but I knew I had very little space left in my tummy and there were still four dishes to go. Two days later I still think of this dish and wish I had an extra stomach or three where I could have stuffed this. Oh, those cows are so lucky.
7. Caveman's shank. I have never before seen a whole shank until that dinner. Actually, I did not even know what part of the cow a shank is from (it's the leg, for the uninitiated like me). That was one HUGE shank. Smoked for two hours, boiled for four. Den placed the marrow on a separate dish seasoned with garlic and some oil I think, and then torched the living daylights off the shank. You could hear the fat crackling. This baby was big and beautiful. The meat was fall-off-the bone tender. Den used a different kind of corn on the cob than I was used to. It was starchier and more substantial. I was so tempted to ask for rice but dared not, lest I be kicked out. I jest, of course, since Den was the perfect host that night.
8. Pugon liempo wrap. They brought in a whole slab of pugon-baked liempo covered in a bed of cogon grass to keep it moist. Den cut it in smaller portions and proceeded to arrange it in a bowl with a bouquet of lettuce, homemade fermented rice (buro made of pork instead of the usual fish or shrimp), and chopped tomatoes. Den then demonstrated how to make the wrap -- first by laying a whole leaf on the palm of your hand, placing astride a teaspoon of the fermented rice in the middle, a cut of liempo beside it, and finally a wedge of tomato, before rolling it into a wrap. At this point, I could barely breathe. I finally got my wish for hard abs, but it sure looked different from what I'd imagined. It was rounder than I expected. Still, I managed to pop one wrap into my mouth. Maybe I was just too stuffed, but I found the pork skin a tad thick and difficult to chew.
9. Pepper crabs. I love crabs, just as much as I love salmon. I knew I didn't have it in me to enjoy this dish as I normally would. Still, I could not disrespect the crabs who gave their lives for our meal so I got a piece and gave thanks before devouring it with the little strength I had left. Yes, there was aligui and it was sinfully delicious!
10. Quezo de bola cheesecake. This was ordered from Teaspoon Cafe located also in Pampanga as I understand desserts are not Den's forte. It was light with a hint of dayap, I would guess. It would have been perfect paired with hot tea or coffee (which would have helped ease the burden we were carrying in our tummies).
My takeaway from it all? Bring a Tupperware so you can still enjoy the food once your tummy has recovered.
Ok a few notes to consider for those who may be interested in trying this gastronomic feast:
a. The place is booked every day (as in Monday to Sunday!) until March 2017. Can you believe that??? If you want to book on a weekend, the next available slot is in September/October 2017. Really! But you can try and check if there are any cancellations within the month.
b. The dining area is below his home. It's rustic and you get to leave your mark anywhere (just not the appliances). It's fun trying to figure out how people got to write on the ceiling and overhead lights. Bring a pentel pen, maybe gold or silver if you really want to stand out. No spray paints though.
c. Damage is P1,700 per pax. We had an extra dish though. The original 9-course meal he suggested cost P1,600 per pax.
d. Den claims he is not a chef and prefers to be called simply by his name. He is self-taught but his passion for cooking is clear from the way he handles the food to the way he talks about it. It's lovely watching him.
Much as I tried to describe it, this is an experience that you can only completely understand and appreciate by going through it. I promise it is worth the wait to see a man create something he loves and offer it to you wholeheartedly.
p.s. Thanks to Kenny for the photos and notes. This is properly a joint review, although all the emotional stuff is mine.
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So I didn't know my friend's dad owns this place. I was really glad that he invited me for a birthday dinner cause this was a well known restaurant so pretty excited. I was blown away at how good all the food were but my favorite has got to be the Shrimp Elena! He cooks there where the guests are seated so you can ask what's this and that so it's quite interesting. The place was an organized mess very very refreshing and it was quiet. And the fact that you don't have any service in your phone in the place makes it a good place to catch up. I'm impressed, very impressed
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