When my family dines in restaurants, we rarely go to those that serve Filipino food. And in those rare instances that we do, we only order things that we do not cook in the house. Like the chicken at Max’s or the barbecue at Aristocrat’s. So when Kuya J Restaurant opened a branch at our neighborhood mall, none of us felt any urgent desire to try it.
However, I became curious when I saw the filled tables and a long line of people waiting to be seated during lunch time. So the next time my Aunt and I were in the mall, I brought her to Kuya J Restaurant.
We entered the restaurant at around 11AM and we were among the first people who were seated. I noticed that most of the diners were families, confirming my initial hunch that this was restaurant was not for solo diners. When we asked about the serving sizes, the waiter told us that each serving was good for 2-3 persons. We ordered the basics: Inihaw na Liempo (grilled pork belly), Pinakbet (mixed vegetables cooked in shrimp paste), Pork Sisig (minced pork cheeks and ears cooked in onions and spices), and Crab Meat Fried Rice.
While waiting for our food, I noticed that the restaurant had filled up with customers. When the pork belly was served, we were a tad disappointed by its size. Didn’t the waiter tell us this was good for 2-3 people? It probably was, if those 3 people ordered other dishes. It was tender and cooked well, although I must admit I’ve had better. The fried rice didn’t disappoint in the amount of crab meat; I didn’t have to look closely to see those precious white meat among the well-seasoned rice grains.
The Sisig was great, simply put. It had good crunch, just-right savory with a nice jolt of spice. And the serving was really generous. In fact, when my aunt and I finished eating, we bagged a lot of Sisig, fried rice and the Pinakbet. Oh, before I forget, if the Sisig was great, the Pinakbet was top notch! The vegetables were cooked perfectly. My aunt raved about the ampalaya (bitter gourd) not being bitter at all. The rekados (pork and shrimp) were ample. And for me, its best part is the bagoong (shrimp paste). It made the dish excellent, in my opinion.
So there we were, pleasantly surprised that we had a more than decent meal at Kuya J Restaurant. Their price range is within reach as well. My aunt and I spent just about PhP 800.00 (about $17.00). The experience was enough for us to return and try their more exotic (to our eyes) offerings.