A shucking weekend

8 05 2011

Freshly shucked... Just a squeeze of calamansi away from being slurped by me!

I KNEW at some point I would have to raise the white flag.  But even I managed to surprise myself that the white cloth stayed tucked away, never coming close to being hoisted.

It all began with a potluck lunch with family and friends.  Little did we know, we would spend this weekend day stuffing ourselves like crazy.

Who knew arroz ala valenciana, stir-fried egg noodles, menudo, homemade fried chicken a la KFC (read: yummy breading!) and lots of steamed fragrant jasmine rice could still leave space for favorites at Yellow Cab (I don’t think this was meryenda.  What’s the “afternoon” equivalent of brunch?), and for amazing seafood at an unexpected choice for a dining place.

My first experience with Yellow Cab was at their restaurant in Tagaytay.  Not being a pizza person – up until “Dear Darla” came around – I gravitated towards the part of the menu away from headers that said “Classic Pizza” or “Specialty Pizza” while my friends ordered pizza like there was no tomorrow.  The name “Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta” caught my fancy.  Even when ordered in, the dish came in a white cardboard box normally reserved for takeaway food.  I said to myself, “No frills.  Straightforward.  No cleanup to worry about.  Grab-and-go.  Fast-paced.  How very New York (the city that inspired the establishment’s name and interior decor).”  Which was quite the opposite of what I discovered on the inside – a delectable, almost insidious pasta creation using al dente spaghetti cooked in, as opposed to tossed with, lots of fresh shiitake mushrooms, chicken strips, and roasted peanuts in a really spicy oriental sauce.  To this day, it’s the dish I truly associate Yellow Cab with.

Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta

Quite expectedly, for this meal, that was the only order I made and the rest, I left all up to them – a couple boxes of chicken wings (I lost count how many wings actually), Chicken Alfredo Pasta, and the biggest New York Pizza.  I had only one wing, I didn’t touch the alfredo, and as for the pizza, I just picked the onions rings which were so sweet after being roasted with the rest of the toppings.  It was not because I was feeling full from the lunch we just had earlier.  It was because I was concentrating on my own box of Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta!

Chicken Wings


Flying high upon... a wing of love


Chicken Alfredo Pasta


New York's Finest Pizza


I only cared for the onion rings!


Charlie Chan Chicken Pasta is chockful with slices of fresh shiitake mushrooms!


Whenever I eat Charlie Chan, I "deconstruct" it. I save the best for last!

We knew we had to take a break before we met up with my youngest brother’s family for dinner.  Break meant coffee at Starbucks.  And for me?  An old-fashioned oatmeal cookie as well.

On the way to dinner, made a quick stop at Makati Supermart!

Already really stuffed and expecting to be accused of weighing down the car’s right tire at the back, I took my place on the excited albeit short drive to our dinner destination heralded in the dusk by bright lights that said, “Seaside Seafood Paluto Restaurants.”

Seaside Seafood Paluto Restaurants

We were met by my brother and sister-in-law right after the turn at the parking lot entrance, and, after much coaxing from a gang of eager wait staff speaking in obsequious voices, went in to Shylin Restaurant.

This being my brother’s treat, I allowed him and my sister-in-law to take charge with the marketing and the ordering.  Marketing meant having to market for our meal at the complex’s wet market conveniently situated right outside the doorstep of the restaurant we chose.  Ordering was actually just giving directions to the kitchen on how each dish was to be cooked.  Being the self-proclaimed chef wannabe and foodie in the family, they had to tag me along.  And that meant one perk – I was able to charm my way to having a vegetable dish included in the spread, Ampalaya Con Carne.

Fish so fresh!


I wanted to ask to be let in in the kitchen so that I could make dinner myself!


Squid adobo dreams!


Manila clams


Live oysters


"Sir, ito po sariwa!!!"


Large shrimps


Live crabs


"Ito po mataba!"


There was a lot where they came from!


To Market! To Market!

This evening, we veered away from my own predilection for the taste of Singapore and asked for the crabs to be cooked in oyster sauce.  In place of the happiness that deep-fried mini buns mopping up chili crab sauce could bring was the prospect of happiness by way of steamed white rice stained with oyster sauce infused with the goodness of the same crustaceans.  And I wasn’t disppointed.  I was shy at first, keeping to myself with half a crab.  But my youngest brother probably saw me as a growing up boy and kept moving food my way.  “Here, there’s more.”  “You want another?”  By the time the Buttered Shrimps managed to call my attention, my tally was already a shameless one and a half crabs.  But there was still a little altruism in me – I would give the claws away.

Crabs in oyster sauce


That's a fat claw!


Claw to me =)

The shrimps were swimming in a sauce made of equal “lots of parts” of butter and ketchup.  For a split second the dark reddish sauce pulled me away from the oyster sauce I’ve been slathering on my rice.  While the flavor was nothing extraordinary, the redemption came from the freshness of the large shrimps.  They were taken off of the flame the very moment they turned color.  I could taste it in the sweetness that broke through the smothering of the sauce and in the texture.

Buttered Shrimps


We've got a large one!

Our Filipino meals would always have “sinigang” (meat or fish and vegetables in a broth traditionally soured with tamarind).  And tonight was fillets of fish (I forgot which kind) with fermented soy bean paste and lots of mustard greens.

Fish Sinigang in Miso (fermented soybean paste)


Ampalaya con Carne

But the pièce de résistance turned out to be the live oysters, just bathed briefly in running boiling water.  Nothing fancy.  The joy of consuming – see, I didn’t say just “eating” – oysters is in the shucking.  Shuck one, squeeze calamansi on the mollusk, then eat.  Or slurp.  The huge order that landed on our table was daunting.  With all the food, I thought it would be easy to dismiss the oysters’ existence.  But I couldn’t have been so wrong.



Now that's a plump oyster!

Before long, a mound of emptied shells had taken up residence right on my plate.  And my brother and I knew exactly what it meant.


It was time for a second order.

Once more with feelings!


A sumptuous dinner worth all the mess! Yes, Mikey Bustos, it was a "pack, pick, and push" dinner! Hahaha! Gee whiz.


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