I am ecstatic today. Leslie, a good friend of mine from Fish Project, drags us to Lapulapu City to let us experience an authentic Asian cuisine.
Together with Glo and Gilda, she brought us to a small place called The Oriental Spice Gourmet (telephone 032.514.7112) in Basak Road, a few steps from a Jollibee outlet in that area and lost in a crowd of flying schools and grill stalls there. Be sure to look for their signage. They are located in the second floor.
The place, I believe, is authentic so that most Indians and our Asian neighbors Indons and Malays frequent there. When we arrived, some are still in their pilot uniforms.
The owners are a bunch of cheerful couples from Malaysia who said they have to go back to their place from time to time just to get the spices needed for their specials. The wife (I forgot their names) speaks an accented Bisaya and the husband speaks perfect English, he being schooled in London. She entertains the customers and checks the orders if they were right and also acts as the cashier, he the chef and master of the place.
Their restaurant is very simple and attempts to make an Asian setting by putting bamboo branches and a few framed Asian textile art. The tables and benches are made of planks of wood reminiscent of tables in Batuan, my hometown.
Everything in the menu is with rice except the noodles and soup. But we do away with the standard rice inclusion because we ordered a plateful of Oriental Spicy Rice. The rice looks and tastes more like nasi goreng only less oily and more appetizing.
We also ordered Spicy Beef, a beautifully spiced with curry beef, so tender you fear they will crumble at the touch of your fork.
We also ask for Spicy Chicken in Tomato Sauce (their new dish), Hokkien Mee, a combination of vermicelli and noodles with seafood, onions, beansprouts and Chinese leaves. As if the world would end any minute, we order another dish, a Sambal Chicken it is called, because I wanted to taste the real sambal.
I requested for hot sauce or chili powder and the Mrs said, No! You have to taste the real chili. She meant the real sambal and I floated in heaven she asks me where am I from. I said I am from Bohol. She stated matter-of-factly that she never knew Boholanos like sambal. I told her I am the only one. Our smiles collide with the flavors of the kitchen.
The Mrs thinks we were done but with the insistence of Glo, we order a Malaysian-style gravy Curry Chicken with potatoes. We devour it like we could not get enough.
I asked the Mrs if they have a Malaysian dessert to close our meal but she said, No more. Her husband the chef doesn’t want her to introduce another specialty. She told us her husband wanted to present different specialties in time, letting each food in the menu be absorbed by their customers. Smart chef.
We go home bloated for less the price. All meals are reasonably priced at 98 pesos. The soup is 118 pesos. Drinks at 35.
Spicy Chicken in Tomato Sauce (Their new dish)
Spicy Beef (Slowly-cooked curry-flavored beef cubes)
Hokkien Mee (Vermicelli and noodles together with prawns, squid, taugi and onions)
Chicken Curry (Malaysian style gravy curry with potato)
The real Sambal!