A couple of weeks ago, I received a little gift from DealGrocer.com for a complimentary meal at Aracama Restaurant BGC. For those of you who don’t know, DealGrocer.com is a site that rounds up must-visit establishments and must-do experiences from all over the Philippines, and then they come up with exclusive deals that will allow their members to enjoy all these things at the best prices. Each deal is available for a limited time and quantity only, but after one deal runs out another takes its place.
And from their current line-up of deals, I was lucky enough to receive two gift vouchers. Yay!
This isn’t my first time using a Deal Grocer coupon but I have to admit it’s been a while. I can’t even remember the specifics anymore. Luckily, you can find the instructions on how to redeem the coupons on your print-out’s (or in my case at the back of my pretty gift vouchers), with each requirement and condition stated very clearly.
For Aracama, I had to call ahead and reserve just to be sure we had a table. I informed the staff that I was going to use Deal Grocer coupons and when we arrived, everything went smoothly. All I had to do was present my vouchers along with a valid government ID and we ordered away. It’s that easy!
I’ve been wanting to try this restaurant for a while, but lately I haven’t had a lot of chances to pay a visit to BGC. With DealGrocer’s gift in my hands, I absolutely had no more excuses. And let me tell you right now Aracama did not disappoint!
Inspired by the food of his home island of Negros, Chef Fernando Aracama decided to open up a restaurant that centred on Filipino food, mostly of the Ilonggo kind. The interior of his restaurant reflects the food he serves: warm and classy, but still able to maintain its deep Filipino roots.
I absolutely adored this native-style “chandelier”.
The ground floor is quite small compared to the second floor, which I understand is converted into a party/club space in the evening. (Upstairs is a deck that is yet another party space.) But for the rest of the day, the wide open windows of the second floor highlight the charms of the restaurant’s natural-toned wooden panels and its many pillars decorated with leaves.
We were seated downstairs and I thought it felt a lot cozier thanks to the ambient lighting and the effects of the curtains. Of course it might also have to do with the warm welcome of the staff. After I gave them my Deal Grocer vouchers and ID, our server promptly took our orders.
I was a bit disappointed to find out that some of the menu items we wanted to order were unavailable at the time, but our server was gracious enough to suggest other dishes to try.
For starters, we went with the Malunggay Mozzarella Dip (Php 240) served with a side of crispy crostini.
This one is basically a creamy mix of moringga leaves and spinach underneath a layer of oozing mozzarella cheese. A very rich and flavourful way to get the meal started, that’s for sure!
Up next came our soup, which is the KBL- Kadyos, Baboy, Langka (Php 420). It’s the Ilonggo version of a pork sinigang, with purple kadyos beans and young jackfruit to boot. What differentiates it from other regular sinigang is that instead of using tamarind to sour it up, the Ilonggos like to use the batwan fruit instead.
To me, sinigang is not sinigang without that sourness, and I thought the soup of this KBL was just rightly sour. I love how it seeps into the baby langka (which is another of my favourite Filipino ingredients!) to make it juicy. One of my brothers felt that the pork was a little salty, but I thought it was okay. Not to mention that pork was cooked into an almost melt-in-your-mouth perfection!
Just as we were about to finish our soup, all our main dishes arrived together. We tried out two rice dishes, and both were actually really good. The KKK- Kalo Kalo and Kalkag Rice (Php 170) is reminiscent of bagoong rice that’s less fishy and more buttery. For added flavour, the rice is sprinkled with garlic and green onions.
The Adobo Fried Rice (Php 195) had just the right amount of adobo flavour in it. It wasn’t too strong, nor was it too subtle. I guess all I can say is, as far as Adobo-flavoured Fried Rice goes, this was done quite well! They really managed to capture the flavours in a very nice way.
Anybody who enjoys grilled vegetables will like this Ensaladang Talong (Php 175). The smokiness of the eggplant in this dish was so apparent, but it was balanced out by the coco-vinegar dressing.
The addition of fresh cherry tomatoes, crispy shallots, and the salted egg adds a different dimension to the flavours of this dish and keeps the smokiness of the eggplants from being too overpowering.
I eat Gising Gising (Php 260) on a pretty regular basis, and I usually prefer my coconut milk a little thicker than what was served here. I also like it a little spicier and thought this was rather mild. But this combination of crunchy sigarilyas (winged beans) with bits of juicy ground pork in a spicy flavourful coconut milk sauce gets me every time.
This Bangus Belly a la Pobre (Php 430) was probably the most straight-forward dish we ordered. It’s basically pan-grilled milkfish steak (look at that yummy fat!) topped with garlic chips. On the side there was a little bit of pomelo-mint ensalada. Because milkfish is my favourite, I wish the portion of this dish was a little bigger. 😛
The Sinugba na Baka (Php 520) was one of my favourite dishes of the day. Perfectly grilled boneless beef ribs that was so tender, so juicy, so wonderful with the sweet and peanut buttery barbecue sauce slathered all over it. Every bite was a burst of joy!
I find myself really loving a lot of Asian dishes that have peanut butter in the ingredients list, and this was no exception.
Ending meals with a spot of dessert has become such a norm for us so we picked two of what I think are the most interesting on the menu. The Dulce Gatas with Bunuelos (Php 295) is probably the most famous and iconic dessert of Aracama, what with that turquoise-coloured dulce de leche can bearing the face of Chef Aracama and all. Dulce de leche is basically a thick caramel sauce with milky notes, made by simmering a can of condensed milk in a pot of water for hours.
The dulce de leche provides a lovely companion to the fried pastry puffs called bunuelos, which to me is like a cross between a cream puff and a doughnut. The pastry itself is quite soft and squishy inside, and since it is slightly salty it helps to intensify the caramel notes of the dulce de leche.
Another super interesting dessert here is the Crispy Suman (Php 230), which is comprised of these delightful rounds of red rice suman encased in a crispy golden shell, set in a pool of muscovado latik.
The slices of mango add a very tropical feel to the dish, but it’s the ginger ice cream that really brings the flavours of this dessert to another level. When you eat the crispy suman with a portion of ice cream, it’s like a nice explosion of opposites in the mouth: cold and warm, soft and crunchy, sweet and spicy– all combining to make this dessert a rather memorable one. I want to eat it againnnn.
The food we had at Aracama was everything we expected, which is to say: great Filipino food presented in a classy and delicious way. I love how Chef Aracama stayed true to his Ilonggo heritage and is now trying to make us city folk more aware of how rich the food scene of the Philippines really is. I’m pretty sure that during our visit, we cleaned up each plate really nicely!
I want to say a big thank you to Deal Grocer for sponsoring this lovely lunch! Hop on to DealGrocer.com to check out all their other dining offerings! I’ve got my eye on a couple of other deals myself. As for the Aracama coupons, the last time I checked they were quickly running out, so go go go! 🙂
Fort Bonifacio Unit C,
The Fort Entertainment Center
5th Ave. corner 26th St.,
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig
Hours: 11 AM to 2 PM, 6 PM to 11 PM
Tel No.: (02) 246 9069
Full disclosure: This post was sponsored by DealGrocer.com, but all opinions stated above are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep The Tummy Train up and running!