Every Filipino has his or her own preference regarding food, most especially when it comes to Filipino Food. It is a tough task to enter native cuisine restaurant business, somehow you just can’t get it right. Whether it be too salty, or too sweet, or not enough seasoning, one has the tough task of having to live up to the dishes your mom or grandmom used to prepare. Its just the way things are. Nothing can live up to your mom’s cooking. But every now and there breaks unto the scene a star and man among boys and this is Kainan Au Gusto. With its peculiarity and in your face character, you would be surprised why I would regard this as the quintessential Filipino restaurant I’ve eaten at to date. Cheap, full of flavor and character, and most of all tasty, this restaurant, to quote our most prolific mall, has got it all.
Nestled in suburban Pasig, just within the gates of Barangay Kapitolyo, Kainan Au Gusto opens its tiny little doors to the pubilc. With the looming Cafe Juanita sign, one would usually miss out the tiny signage tucked in between the foilage as if to say that only the knowledgable may enter.
And knowledgable you must be! Because if you do not know where it is, it is quite a task to find!
No neon lights or tarpaulins here, a tiny plank of wood crudely painted in the mustard yellow with hand painted letters of Kainan Au Gusto hangs over grilled gates as simple as the food fare it prepares.
After the initial grilled entrance, the foyer is littered with wooden antiques of dressers, cabinets, and patron saints all lined up at the side already preparing for the ambiance within. As if stepping into another world through the beads, it reminded me of the Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus as the hostess led us into literally another time, era, dimension. They say that in Kainan Au Gusto you miss out on the ambiance you pay for at Cafe Juanita but I didn’t think so. If not for anything else, this is WHAT it had in common with Cafe Juanita. (Aside from sharing the same kitchen!)
Yes the decor and ambiance does not stop at the door with antiquities lined up on the walls. There was nothing uniform about the place. No airconditioning either. This was how the common filipino eats. Nothing fancy. You queue up, pick your food from the milieu of choices and you pay. That simple. The line may be long but definitely moving.
I’ve already said a mouthful and I haven’t even begun with the food. We quickly queued up and luckily we quickly got a table. Again no table cloths, just placemats and condiments. The bare necessities. I decided to get Orange soda and reminiscent of more innocent times, the bottles came in more peculiar shapes.
I was hungry. Initially I wanted to order everything, but of course settled on a few things. Since we ordered a lot, and when I say a lot I mean A LOT, I will be just featuring the highlights for me. One highlight was the definitely the Beef Kaldereta. I rarely gush over beef kaldereta, but with was so expertly made that I can’t help but give it, its due praise. The meat was literally falling off of itself. This was what I called pull apart beef. The meat was succulent and flavorful. Because it was obviously stewed over a long period of time, the meat was neither dry nor tough. It was just right. The kind of rightness (ok is that even a word?) that comes with doing it over and over again for a very long time. I will definitely come back just for this. The order costs, 100 pesos for about 5-6 cubes of meat.
We also ordered the Dinuguan primarily because of my urging. I am very very picky with Dinuguan but I would definitely try anyone’s Dinuguan at least once. I was amazed at how well done the Dinuguan was made. It was also very tasty and it wasn’t slimy at all. The flavors of the meat and innards as well as the blood was very prominent and yet the aroma and spices that come with the sweet peppers quickly engulfed everything. Best eaten with a local delicacy called Puto, I downed an entire serving by myself. Cost? 45 Pesos!
At this point in time, I would like to make a disclaimer that most if not all servings are only good for one person. Any attempt at sharing would just leave you hoping you didn’t share because it was damn good!
Of course I couldn’t let myself eat everything pork and beef only, I ordered the Bagiuo Beans sauteed in pork and onions. It was well done because the beans were not soggy. Soggy beans are not good because basically you cook all the nutrients out of them.
Alas all good things must come to an end, but in eating sometimes the best part of the meal IS the end! Dessert for us was a huge glass of Halo-Halo and a bowl of Iced Banana. For 25P and 20P respectively, who could complain?
The legend behind Kainan Au Gusto is that, Cafe Juanita wanted to serve or cater to the construction workers working nearby. So they opened up a shack nearby and served quality food for low low prices. Doc Boy Vazquez, owner of both Cafe Juanita and Kainan Au Gusto, saw the poor conditions by which these workers would eat at under the heat of the sun and decided to use the backroom of his house, an old bodega, as the venue of the place to eat. It is said that the old patrons were intimidated by the new place, that they stopped going. Nevertheless, the good food, ambiance, and cheap prices attracted new patrons from the surrounding offices.
Kainan Au Gusto is definitely one of those hole-in-walls that you definitely must visit. This is real value for your money food.
Kainan Sa Au Gusto
21 United Street,
West Kapitolyo, Pasig City