How long has it been since the first community quarantine was put into place? How long has it been since people last went out of their houses to socialize? How long has it been since I last wrote a blog post here? Just like a good number of people, I lost track of time and stopped counting the days altogether. Daily life became a monotony – wake up, log in, work, log out, spend time with family, and sleep. Those six steps day in and day out.
Fortunately, the strict enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was lifted in Manila in favor of the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) – but mainly to allow business to reopen. Among the things I missed doing before the pandemic was the nightly visits to Cubao Expo – especially my usual haunt KatHa Lifestyle Store, a respite from my daily work. The complex known for its counterculture shops and unorthodox businesses has opened its doors, but things will never be the same.
With that said, let me share three memorable eats I enjoyed there – all taken before the lockdown.
A mainstay in Cubao Expo, Fred’s Revolucion has even opened another branch in the Escolta area – a former shopping district in the 1920s which is now a rising counterculture hub. Fred’s is well-known for its craft beers and grub to match these lagers.
I’ve had the chance to try out their Fish and Chips (P248) for takeaway, but I opted not to get the condiments. As soon as I opened the foil parcel, I knew that this wasn’t cream dory (a common cooking fish) as there was no ammonia / bleach smell whatsoever. I surmise tilapia fillet was used for this, which wasn’t a problem at all. The fish fillet chunks were coated in a beer batter and fried until golden brown. Fred’s Revolucion leveled it up a bit with a sprinkling of anchovies, providing a crispy contrast to the breaded fish. Just like the real thing, French fries (or chips in the Queen’s realms) accompanied the fish.
Pepito’s Oven is known for its meat products such as sausages and pulled pork, both available in their Cubao Expo location. From their small corner in the complex, they serve rice meals and sandwiches for the compound’s denizens – all below P200.
One night, I tried out their Breakfast Sausage Patty (P155) with an extra pandesal (P10) for good measure. Just a patty was enough to go with their version of nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk) and egg. The pandesal served as a filler since they ran out of rice that time; good thing I got the last order! The sausage patties were slathered with barbecue sauce, which I preferred more than the mustard condiment. I would have liked it better in between two halves of an English muffin, but this works fine likewise.
One of the new kids on the block, KatHa Lifestyle Store used to be in a small space tucked within Cubao Expo. Today, they have moved to a bigger and more visible location – with edibles (including a coffee shop) at the ground floor and lifestyle products at the upper level.
During one of my visits, resident barista and KatHa partner Jonathan recommended the Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake (P150) for me to try. I paired it off with Cold Brew Latte (P150/bottle) from The Brewman, his main business. What made this cake unforgettable was not the vegan ingredients used, but rather the taste. No overwhelming sweetness, and you could still taste the peanut butter tempering the chocolate taste. The Cold Brew Latte was equally commendable; making use of time instead of heat to brew coffee makes for a smooth drink with little to no acidity!
That caps off this triptych; until the next post, always stay safe and healthy!