What is Bagoong?
Bagoong alamang is Filipino for shrimp paste, made from minute shrimp or krill (alamang) and is commonly eaten as a topping on green mangoes or used as a major cooking ingredient. Bagoong paste varies in appearance, flavor, and spiciness depending on the type. Pink and salty bagoong alamang is marketed as “fresh”, and is essentially the shrimp-salt mixture left to marinate for a few days. This bagoong is rarely used in this form, save as a topping for unripe mangoes. The paste is customarily sauteed with various condiments, and its flavour can range from salty to spicy-sweet. The colour of the sauce will also vary with the cooking time and the ingredients used in the sauteeing. Cincalok is the Malaysian version of ‘fresh’ bagoong alamang.
Unlike in other parts of Southeast Asia, where the shrimp are fermented beyond recognition or ground to a smooth consistency, the shrimp in bagoong alamang are readily identifiable, and the sauce itself has a chunky consistency. A small amount of cooked or sauteed bagoong is served on the side of a popular dish called “Kare-kare”, an oxtail stew made with peanuts. It is also used as the key flavouring ingredient of a sauteed pork dish, known as Binagoongan (lit. “that to which bagoong is applied”). The word bagoong, however, is also connoted with the bonnet mouth and anchovy fish version, bagoong terong.
Shrimp paste in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental
Shrimp paste corresponding in consistency and presentation to Blachang is not found in the National Capital Region of the Philippines but can be found in such places as Dumaguete in the Visayas.
I’ve recently been researching on places to take foreign guests that fly into our country. Being a Foodie, the group I am with usually turns to me when recommending a place to eat at, and since I wasn’t able to take Tim, (my malaysian boss) out to this place I thought I’d give it a whirl and try it out for myself.
If I had one word to describe a Filipino meal or cuisine is, it would be hearty. Most dishes are almost never served in a single serve or plated style, instead viands and dishes are served family style, meant for sharing. Passing one dish to other exchanging stories along the way, this is at the core and heart of every Filipino meal. Rice, soups, viands, all lumped into a bowl being passed along a long table swapping funny anecdotes here and there and the occasional burp in between, are as much as part of the meal as rice. Bagoong club does not disappoint.
It sits tucked away in the heart of Quezon City, among the burgeoning food scene of Tomas Morato. It quietly blends in among the residential homes and nightlife spots, just waiting to be discovered, and discover it I did.
There was ample support for parking along the road and since it was not located along the main road, parking is not really a problem. We arrived on a Saturday afternoon, without reservations, and yet we were able to get a table. (luckily!) I suggest though that if you are heading their way, that you call to get a reservation.
You enter the foyer, and the wall is adorned by snippets of features and the center table has some of the trophies they have been awarded. I knew we were going to be in for a treat. (Be careful though, the plaque on the table says that they were awarded as the best Kare-kare in Manila. I don’t know if my standards are just high, but keep your expectations in check!)
A waitress will lead you inside and around the different dining places. Obviously this was a house before converted into a restaurant and I really appreciate how cozy and homey the entire place felt. From the hardwood tables and chairs to the cracked floors, this strangely felt like home, and home is where the best Filipino Food is usually located.
Upon sitting down, they serve you with complimentary appetizers. Singkamas with Bagoong Asya (asian flavor spices) and Bagoong Umaga (with Chili). I really appreciated this because I was really hungry and it was extra great that it was free. It was already a great chance to sample their bagoong.
Since we were late, they already initially ordered Ukoy or Okoy (Php 215.00) to tide them over till everyone arrived. I was amazed at how huge the serving was. This was definitely a plus. The veggies were crispy and the entire okoy was not too oily. It was tasty and hot when it was served. Perfect way to start a Pinoy meal.
We quickly placed our orders as everyone was getting restless due to hunger. A definite must-order was the Ginataang Hubad na Kuhol sa Malunggay (Php 215.00). I love kuhol. And had I not been craving for Kare-Kare the entire week I would have ordered another dish of this. To anyone dropping by, ORDER THIS!
We of course had to order the Binagoongang Combination (Php 390.00) which was pork either fried or grilled. For me it was just ok. Nothing worth saying. The bagoong was not too evident and needed some extra bagoong to make it tasty.
Another winner was the Inihaw na Pusit na Binusog sa Bopis. (Php 320.00) The squid was excellently cooked because it was not chewy at all. The Bopis (Bopis (bÃ³piz in Spanish) is a spicy Filipino dish made out of pork lungs and heart sautÃ©ed in tomatoes, chilies and onions. Bopis is a uniquely Filipino dish traditionally prepared from assorted pig parts. These assorted parts are usually the heart, kidneys, lungs, and intestines. The liver and brain, along with the ears and the face is reserved for use in cooking sisig.) went well with the smokeyness of the squid.
We also ordered some Laing Espesyal (Php 205.00) so we could have at least some vegetables! The laing went down smooth and the coconut milk did not overpower the leafy taste of the Taro leaves. The shredded pork rinds which acted as a garnish actually highlighted the dish and made it really explode with flavor even more.
For those who have problems with Uric Acid I don’t recommend this one, but it’s really good! Bulalong Munggo (Php 330.00, good for 2-3 people) was another surprise which got me slurping up every last drop of the soup!
I’ve been craving for Kare-kare (Php 390.00) Â these past few days and I’ve been wondering how to convince my mom to make some for Sunday Dinner. Â Remember I mentioned how they got the different accolades they have received on the foyer? I definitely noticed this one.
Bagoong Club is one of the Top 10 Restaurants in the Philippines with the best Kare-Kare – from Sooo Pinoy Evolving Filipino Flavors: The National Search for the Ultimate Pinoy Dish.
Paired with the a restaurant known for its bagoong I knew I chose right in getting Kare-kare. I ate this a lot! I really do love kare-kare and I think Sooo Pinoy was right in awarding the best kare-kare to this place. Aside from my house, this definitely was one of my top picks for best kare-kare. The tripe and tail were all so tender that I was sucking the bones and cleaning my plate. I wanted to order another serving of rice but I controlled myself. I’ve already eaten so much.
We also ordered Bagoong Club Calamares (Php 210.00) for the kid with us and I think she ate most of it since she really did not fancy the bagoong I think.
It was indeed a hearty meal and definitely was not over yet. What kind of meal does not end with dessert?
Quezo De Bola Cheesecake. (Php 170.00)
I love this dessert. I think its even better than New York cheesecake. I love queso de bola, but going beyond this, the cheese was not too overpowering and the cheese taste was just right. If not for anything else, I will comeback for the cheesecake. Trixie and Denise, you guys will like this.
Calamansi Torte (Php 135.00)
This was reminded me of Heny Sison’s Lemon Walnut Torte. It was strangely familiar as well as really good. Cakes are good enough to be eaten alone or to be shared.
The verdict? For the amount of food we shared and number of people there it was definitely worth it. I ate with 7 people and we all paid Php 420.00 each. The service was really fast and the waiters were really courteous and attentive despite having a half full house. I would definitely come back. This is a well recommended filipino restaurant.
The Bagoong Club
122 Scout Dr. Lazcano, Sacred Heart, Quezon City.
Tel. 929-5450 and 929-0544
11:00am-3:00pm; 6:00pm-11:00pm Monday to Sunday
HOW TO GET TO BAGOONG CLUB:Via Tomas Morato
- along Tomas Morato going towards ABS-CBN, make a right at street after Anabel’s and Starbucks. Bank of Commerce is in the corner.
- along Tomas Morato going towards E. Rodriguez, when you see Alfredo’s on the right, take a left on the opposite street with Bank of Commerce and Starbucks in the corner.
Via Scout Torillo
- on Timog going to rotonda from EDSA, make a left at street with Metrobank in the corner (Scout Torillo). Take right on Scout Dr. Lazcano.
- on Kamuning Road going to T. Morato from EDSA, make a right at 3rd stoplight (Scout Torillo) and left at Scout Dr. Lazcano.
OTHER BAGOONG CLUB ARTICLES:
WIKI -FOODIE ON THE BAGOONG CLUB