Last weekend, we had a late lunch with other foodies at Serye in Santana Grove, Sucat. It’s just about a kilometer (right side) straight from the Skyway Sucat Exit. Parking in Santana Grove is FREE!
The food at Serye is very, very good. They serve Filipino food the way it was meant to be – no shortcuts! I particularly love their Laing and their Binagoongang Lechon Kawali, and they are also known for their Classic Kare-Kare and Boneless Crispy Pata.
A LITTLE INFO ABOUT SERYE
Serye owner Alvin Reyes Lim is a 5th generation Reyes of The Aristocrat fame. Serye is an anagram of the surname Reyes. It is also a representation of generations of cooking and eating traditions from the owners’ families.
While studying in France, Alvin noticed how the bistros there served everyday French comfort food in a nice, cozy setting and wanted to do the same for Filipino food.
Serye’s “new look” is a modern rendition of an illustrado’s house. I love the use of the jalousie windows as a divider – I felt such nostalgia seeing it – it reminds me of our old house.
Serye has that old Filipino home feel, circa early to mid 1900s, but with modern touches.
They plan to have a Halo-Halo Bar soon, hence this Akatsuki ice shaver, which made me think of Naruto… the last few episodes of which I still have to marathon…
If you’re thinking that Serye is just another Aristocrat, it’s not. The ambience is a bit more cozy, a bit more bistro, while still keeping to the Filipino food theme, without going “native” (by this, I mean bamboo accents, nipa hut decor, banana leaves, etc…). It sits on that middle ground between general population, everyday food restaurants, and fine dining. Pricing is also a bit higher at around P500 per person. At this price point, Serye can afford to use better ingredients and can have the luxury of not using shortcuts.
Both Alvin and Gretchen come from families that cook very well, and both have high standards when it comes to food. The dishes at Serye are created according to their taste buds, based on how their families have been preparing food.
My favorite dish was the Laing con Camaron Rebosado (P350) – the laing was sweet and mellow, with saltiness and depth from bagoong. The sweetness comes naturally from the coconut milk and not from sugar. The gabi leaves were tender without any harshness or kati (itchiness). This is simply the best laing I have ever had!
Here it is served with some breaded shrimp. The coconut milk was cooked down and the resulting sweet, nutty, caramelly coconut oil is sooooo good! It looks so clear, like green extra virgin olive oil!
Another dish that I really loved was the Binagoongang Lechon Kawali (P475). The pork skin is still cracklingly crispy, with a lot of the fat rendered out. It tasted sweet and salty and clean, with none of the funky porky taste. It is a very nice flavor combo of crispy pork, cracklings, pleasant sweetness and complex saltiness from the bagoong (fish paste). Delicious!
This is the bestseller – Boneless Crispy Pata (P140 per 100g). These are boiled in broth to flavor and tenderize, then baked, and then fried to crisp up the skin! It’s nice to be able to eat crispy pata easily without having to work around the bone. Each slice has some crispy skin, tender meat, fat, and tendon. It was a tad dry, but not by that much, and I just attribute it to it sitting out, waiting for ages while we took our sweet time taking pictures. It is served with a slightly spicy, vinegar soy sauce. It is also served with some vegetables on the side.
Another customer favorite is the Classic Kare-Kare (P475). The Kare-Kare is served in a clay pot heated with a candle. It is made with ox tail and tripe. The tripe is boiled 3 times to make sure that it is really clean. The Kare-Kare is made from scratch – they toast and grind the rice and peanuts themselves and even make their own bagoong (fish paste) to go with the Kare-Kare.
The sauce of the Kare-Kare is thick but not heavy. I normally don’t get second, or third, helpings of tripe, but I was hunting for the tripe here! It tastes really clean, with no off flavor, and melts in my mouth!
They also have a vegetarian version of the Kare-Kare and also have vegetarian bagoong made with tausi and other spices.
The Bangus Belly ala Bistek (P395) was also quite good, teasing one with the aromas of calamansi, onions and soy sauce. However, it was left on the wayside when everybody went for the Kare-Kare and Crispy Pata.
We also had the Pancit Miki Bijon (reg P195, large P390). It was okay, but sort of forgettable compared to the Laing, Binagoongang Lechon Kawali, Kare-Kare and Crispy Pata. Still, it’s okay as a filler dish.
For dessert, we had the Bibingka Classic (P135), which is made from galapong. It gave me that “it’s just how I remember it!” feeling Really. Imagine how bibingka tastes and this tastes like that.
The Mango Pie Fleurette and the Banana and Chocolate Cream Pie (both P150) were really good. If I had to choose one, I’d probably go for the Banana Chocolate Cream Pie just because I like the banana, pastry cream and chocolate combo better, although both had similar, delicious bases. The pastry crust on these pies were amazingly flaky! They were not soggy, nor were they dough-y. They are just a perfect texture contrast to the pastry cream filling.
When I told Alvin how awesome the flaky pie crusts were, he said that the credit should go to his wife, Gretchen Consunji-Lim, of Manila Bake. Manila Bake supplies Serye with desserts and pastries, now I am excited to check out Manila Bake one of these days to get more of those flaky pies!
The Macapuno Pandan Cake (P150) is made from real pandan leaves (no artificial coloring or flavoring). The green cake actually turns a bit brown when exposed to air! It was so fragrant with pandan, that with every bite I take, that smooth pandan aroma engaged my olfactory senses.
They are just launching Klub Serye – you can register for free – just visit their stores and sign up in their registration sheet. Members are entitled to special discounts and freebies. Right now, they are giving away 20% discount e-coupons upon sign up, which you will receive via SMS.
I would heartily recommend Serye to anyone who enjoys classic, traditional Filipino food done right. Serye doesn’t scrimp on the ingredients and the process. Cooking takes how long it takes – no shortcuts. This is evident in the flavorful laing, sweet with coconut milk (not sugar), and where the coconut milk is so clarified it looks like extra virgin olive oil. The consistency of their Classic Kare-Kare is just something that you’ll only get using traditional ingredients and patience.
For the amount of effort that goes into cooking these traditional Filipino dishes, the P200-500 price tag for the dishes (good for 2-3 persons) is quite reasonable.
Serye is also the place to take someone who wants to be introduced to Filipino food, and also for those who have been away from the Philippines for a while and miss Filipino comfort food. The food is Filipino comfort food but cooked with attention to detail and no compromise on methods nor ingredients. It is quality Filipino food you will be proud to show off to foreign guests.
Overall, I am very happy with Serye Restaurant & Cafe. It is a bit too far for me to go all the way to regularly, but I would make the trip for special occasions to have the best laing ever!
Serye Restaurant & Cafe
Quezon Memorial Circle, Diliman ; Santana Grove, Sucat, Paranaque
Email: [email protected]
Landline: +63 2 505-5223
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