You know what’s more insane than Manila traffic? Our food scene. Apart from the slew of restaurants popping up all around the city, here’s another awesome way to enjoy food and drink: a secret supper at a private kitchen. The private kitchen arena is small but steadily growing, with private chefs becoming more and more inventive, innovative, creative and going absolutely crazy in their kitchens.
One such private chef is Dedet de la Fuente Santos, the woman behind Pepita’s Kitchen (see contact details below) who has scaled yet another height for her already-celebrated specialty (she has made a name for herself with her stuffed lechon). Just recently, she started opening her Makati home to host incredible, 13-course lechon degustacion sit-down dinners.
The atmosphere, while not stuffy, feels like a formal dinner at home, complete with a bevvy of black shirt-wearing waiters. The night we were there, the table groaned not only with food, but with the collective weight of a dozen people dining.
The “Hayop na Degustacion” dinner features a wide range of dishes made with a variety of meats (seafood, lamb and pork), hence the name. It starts with alcohol: a magic potion of cotton candy and lambanong, created by Dedet’s daughter “curly Pepita”. It’s a nice way to kickstart the progressive dinner that climaxes with the star of the show: the lechon.
FIRST COURSE: The cotton candy which deflates as soon as it’s doused with lambanog.
SECOND COURSE: The tendon chicharon with sinigang na ube dip.
THIRD COURSE: ‘Hiplog’, or shrimp and itlog na maalat. This is the start of a three-dish fastbreak build up.
FOURTH COURSE: From left: bone marrow, which you douse with oxtail marmalade, and top with Pepita’s special salt.
FIFTH COURSE: The salad surprise is a surprise hit! That’s arugula with homemade yogurt cheese, cashew butter and (the orange thing), watermelon pop rock salt.
SIXTH COURSE: “Sipit Sarap” is crab with taba ng talangka sauce that’s served with rice.
SEVENTH COURSE: “Lucky You” is made of sotanghon noodles, basil, and garlic in a bed of olive oil.
EIGHT COURSE: “The Lambada” is lamb with a nice spiciness to it.
NINTH COURSE: “The Cheers” Palate Cleanser is a toss up between tamarind (above) or ginger sherbet.
TENTH COURSE: One of two new lechon flavors: “Thang Lon noodle-stuffed lechon” that comes with butter and crab sauce.
ELEVENTH COURSE: The second lechon: stuffed with ham and comes with sweet glaze sauce.
TWELFTH COURSE: “Cholesterol Sweeper” dessert made of oatmeal and mixed with Ghirardelli white chocolate.
THIRTEENTH COURSE: Finally, the guinataan brulée with layers of carabao milk flan.
Hayop na Degustacion, a 13-course private dinner hosted by Pepita’s Kitchen, is by appointment only and costs PHP2,500/person (minimum of 15). Call +63 2 4254605 or +63 917 8660662 or visit Pepita’s Kitchen Facebook page for more information.