Two days before leaving Manila, I had lunch with Nina, my former thesis adviser, and Dom, my former officemate. It’s been more than 5 years since we all got together and there was a lot of catching up to do. And Nina picked Ninyo, a small restaurant off the busy thoroughfare of Katipunan Ave that is all about French-Japanese fusion cuisine.
The BF and I arrived 15 mins late and after initial his, hellos, and besos, we went straight to the business of picking what to eat.
While we were deciding which one of the many enticing entrees to order, the waiter gave us 2 slices of soft bread and herbed butter. It was sitting there for a while (2 minutes), before I buttered my first slice and I was pleasantly surprised that the bread was still warm.
And then our appetizer, the Wasabi Fried Oysters, arrived. It’s six pieces of deep fried wasabi-encrusted oysters with citrus mayo dressing and caviar (Lumpish caviar was how it was stated in the menu. What’s lumpish caviar? A lump of caviar but not really?)
The crust was not as spicy as I expected and I only tasted hint of wasabi. David spoiled me on this one when he said it was one of his favorites in Ninyo. I was about to say “Oh it’s ok” until I reached the part with mayo dressing on it, and then everything made sense. The crunchy crust combined with the citrus mayo dressing, for the lack of a better comparison, reminds me of dipping crispy french fries in mayo. And pretty much everyone enjoys that.
The first serving I ate was a little too oily for my taste but the second one I shared with the BF was without the excess fat.
Our entrees came a little bit later, because it took a long time for Dom and Nina to grab their second piece of oyster, and the wait staff did not want to serve entrees while there are still pieces of appetizers left. After they took the oyster plate, our main dish came almost immediately.
I ordered Duck Confit which was a leg of duck confit with mango pilaf onigiri, balsamic teriyaki sauce, grilled fruit skewer (grape, watermelon, melon, pineapple) crispy potato strings, and tomato in confit. Wow, that’s a lot of components.
The tomato in confit had a savory taste with little pricks of saltiness brought on by the small amount of salt that was spread out on its surface.
As an edible decorative element, I like the idea of the grilled fruit skewer. I can’t really say anything else flavor-wise because it’s just fruits. Skewered. Then grilled. Voila.
Crispy potato strings gave me something to munch on while delaying my gratification (eating the duck). It provided a smooth transition from the soft texture of the tomatoes and fruits to the crispy leg of duck.
Ah now the duck. The outer shell was crunchy. A little too crunchy in some areas that I thought were somewhat dry. But hey this is my first time to eat duck confit so I’m not sure whether it’s supposed to be like that. Good thing I like crunchy poultry.
With each forkful made up of a piece of duck, some mango pilaf, and the balsamic teriyaki sauce, the sensation was really that of a fusion. Sweet, savory, with some sour notes, all the necesary components for an Asian dish over a French cooking technique foundation.
I wish I can write in detail how the others felt about their food, but we were too engrossed catching up that they never really talked about their food. Here are some tidbits though.
The BF had the US Hanging Steak with pumpkin risoni and buttered vegetables. He was complaining that his “risotto” did not taste like risotto. Well dear BF, it’s because it’s not! It was pumpkin risoni (thank you Google). He did finish his plate ahead of everybody. One because he never really spoke a lot. Two, deep in his indignant heart, he probably actually liked what he ordered.
Dom ordered the Sauteed Seafood Medley with Wasabi Coconut Sauce. Because he was sensitive to spicy food, he asked the waiter if he could have the wasabi on the side and the kitchen complied.
Nina ordered the Grilled Cream Dory Filet. Dory. Yeah Nemo’s friend. Hers had a foam on the side that of course brought out the “Ooh! Foam!” from her.
As for desserts, the BF and I shared this chocolate ice cream + meringue slice. I can’t remember the name exactly but it ended with Brav. Help anyone? I really loved it and would order it again when I come back to Manila.
Dom ordered the Mango Pavlova, which had more meringue than mango much to his disappointment because he really wanted the mangoes. But I don’t think he found it difficult to polish off.
Nina had the Trio of Crème Brulée. Made her wish for a kitchen blow torch (I am adding this to Christmas 2010 shopping list).
Regarding the service, the wait staff made themselves scarce when they are not serving ergo more privacy for us as we chatted about anything and everything. Food was on time, the entrees were warm, and the desserts cold. I guess we received excellent service that day as we were the only patrons in the restaurant that cloudy Sunday.
Overall, I liked my lunch at Ninyo. Had I stayed in Manila, I can picture myself dining here with my HS girlfriends for our monthly meetups. I will have to wait another 1.5 years for the opportunity to try their other dishes.
Ninyo Fusion Cuisine
66 E. Abada St.,
Loyola Heights, Quezon City
I apologize for the quality of the photos. My point and shoot can only do so much under the dim indoor lighting of the restaurant. Photos have been GIMPed to perfection