Because of its elevation, Antipolo offers a panoramic view of Metro Manila. The view is spectacular at night. It’s not surprising that the restaurants that made Antipolo a weekend getaway from work-weary city folk were more watering holes than anything else. Sumulong Highway is dotted with pubs and bars, and business is always good especially on Friday and Saturday nights. While these establishments (some of them, anyway) are great places for hanging out and unwinding, they aren’t exactly the right places to go to for a quiet family meal.
It pleases me that so many new real restaurants are sprouting in Antipolo. Not drinking places but real restaurants that don’t capitalize on the view. We already tried Monte Café; a couple of days ago, we had dinner at Marison’s.
Marison’s offers Filipino food cooked and served with a modern twist. The specialties are kare-kare with crispy tripe and binagoongang baboy. Alex does not eat kare-kare. I cannot eat binagoongang baboy because I am allergic to shrimp. So, we ordered two appetizers and two fish entrees for dinner.
The best way to describe the first appetizer is a local take on spanakopita. But, instead of feta, the filling was kesong puti, a local white cheese. The wrapper was thin, crisp and perfectly fried. The filling was generous and sublime. But the dipping sauce (described in Marison’s website as “pineapple sambal dip”) was much too sweet. TOO SWEET. The fried cheese was really better without the dipping sauce.
The second appetizer was chicken fingers — moist chicken fillets wrapped in crisp golden bread crumbs. Perfectly fried just like the cheese. But the chicken was underseasoned. Instead of creating a pleasing contrast, the honey mustard dipping sauce overwhelmed the chicken.
The salmon with honey-miso sauce was the dish that I eagerly anticipated. Sadly, while the fish was perfectly cooked, it was also underseasoned. The oh-so-sweet honey-miso sauce might have worked better if there were more miso than honey in it. Speedy and I were beginning to wonder at that point what the cook had against salt while being obviously heavy-handed with the use of sweet ingredients. Alex described the salmon in one word — matabang (literally, bland).
The sinaing na buntot ng tuna… Okay, when I was considering ordering this dish, I asked the waiter what sinaing meant. Sinaing means cooked rice — if it had another meaning that described a cooking method, I’d never heard of it before. So, I asked. But the waiter couldn’t explain. He knew that the dish is essentially a fried fish with sauce but that’s it. If management had provided better training, the waiter would have been more informative.
I took a chance anyway with the sinaing na buntot ng tuna. And it was good — crisp outside while moist and gelatinous inside — but it would have been a more memorable dish if the tuna weren’t underseasoned. The sauce — more salty than sweet this time — had to be generously drizzled over the fish with every mouthful. Otherwise, the fish is crunch and moistness, and not much else.
Marison’s isn’t cheap, as you can see from the receipt. While Speedy and I felt that the food wasn’t bad, it wasn’t so spectacular either. The cook knew how to give the food perfect texture but not the ideal balance of flavors.
Will we go back to Marison’s? Yes, we want to take Sam there too so she can try the fried cheese with, perhaps, a salad (there being no other vegetarian dish in the menu). Next time though, we’ll make sure to tell the waiter to please inform the cook that we’re not scared of salt at all.