My Southeast Asian Culinary Journey At Ninak Restaurant

Ninak is a new restaurant which offers a plethora of flavors with their Asian comfort food menu. Spearheaded by Chef Quito Jose, one of the Jose trio who are behind Brothers Burger, I would like to welcome you to their newest baby which is situated at the foodstrip in Kapitolyo, Pasig City. 

Although one might be intimidated with the name Ninak, it is simply 'Kanin' (cooked rice) spelled backwards, and I am positive that soon Ninak will turn into another successful brand which boasts of the best in Asian dishes. I am really fascinated to try and share to you their delicious food, which I highly recommend if you guys would like to try something new in the Kapitolyo area. It's a one stop shop for the best in authentic Thai, Singaporean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Filipino flavors with a twist. Read on and discover their heavenly dishes along with my honest opinion on each one.

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Ninak itself actually started way back, as it started to accept delivery orders from the Pasig and Ortigas area. But the restaurant officially opened sometime last May 2013 and is conveniently located in Sta. Rosa Street corner East Capitol Drive. You can clearly see their sign as soon as you take a left turn to East Capitol. And as soon as I entered, Ninak's interior is minimalistic with green and black hues. The kitchen can be seen across the entrance area and diners can  easily have access to television while waiting for their orders.

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The stairs leading to the second floor area is a bit narrow but impressively furnished with black and white artwork.

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There is even an extended area for possible private functions, and I find it perfect for business lunch or dinner meetings as well.

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I loved the simplicity of the chairs and tables that are great for customers in twos, fours and even for family gatherings.

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A lot of restaurants normally serve fresh fruit shakes for their customers, but Ninak stayed unique and offers Berry Mango, Watermelon Lychee, and this Green Grape Basil Slush which I just love. I would call for mint with this one, but who would have known that basil would work very well to compliment the sweetness of the grapes.

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These Fish Cakes are served with sweet chili sauce, and it's Singaporean streetfood at its best. Perfectly cooked, these babies takes off as a savory, sweet, and a bit spicy start while waiting for their other dishes.

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Ninak also serves some mean and authentic Chicken Satay. Marinated, skewered and grilled to perfection and served with cucumber relish and spicy peanut sauce. The chicken is so juicy and the flavor is but true to its inspiration. Good thing I had extra meds to fight off the allergies from my system so I can enjoy eating these yummy chicken skewers.

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At Ninak, you don't look for the usual salad. Try their Bean Sprout with Salted Fish and you can just feast on its clean refreshing taste with a bit of heat and tang thanks to its dressing. It compliments the other meat dishes very nicely and the serving is quite impressive for it's affordable price of P160.00

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I am very happy when the rice dishes came to our table. What is Ninak without the rice, right? With all the right ingredients plated wonderfully for our inner camera whores coming out, one question was running through on my mind.

"Who needs a diet today? Seriously, who needs it!?"

Ninak's Bagoong Rice is honestly like a dish on its own already. What you do is mix in the rice cooked with shrimp paste, along with the julienned green mangoes, green beans, onions, chili, sweet pork, scrambled eggs and a spritz of lime. The flavors are all incredible. I mean, that's all flavors imaginable right inside one dish! Just wait til you see my plate later on.

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They also serve Ninak Rice, which is a basic garlic fried rice with their special Ninak sauce, topped with fried shallots and spring onions. I can never really guess what their sauce is made of, but I can tell that it's soy based.

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Obviously, a lot of their dishes goes well for 3 to 4 people, but just in case you wanted to cut down on portions, Ninak also serves Chicken Rice made from jasmine grains. I wasn't able to try the Chicken Rice though, but I tried their Tinapa Rice below. Much like the Bagoong Rice, this one is topped with a lot of things such as tomatoes, salted egg, spring onions and tinapa flakes. I really like how Ninak has integrated the tomato-salted egg combination with this one. This reminds me of the days where I prefer to eat only a tomato/salted egg ensalada with red chillies and a bit of soy, topped over hot white rice. Oh how it never failed to satisfy me.

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Think I've eaten enough already? We haven't even passed through the main dishes, but to start it off, here is a Lamb Massaman Curry. Tender lamb pieces simmered to perfection and served with marble potatoes, pearl onions, and topped with fried shallots. I really liked the flavor of lamb if it's cooked right. Really flavorful and I can tolerate its heat well. Although I warn you, for those who are allergic to nuts though, because this dish has toasted peanuts in it.

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One of Ninak's signature dishes is their Fish with Mango Sauce, a dish made with dory fillets breaded with panko crumbs, topped with a green mango and sweet chili sauce, sweet red peppers and cilantro. A mix and match of sour, sweet, crunchy, tender, and a bit spicy on my mouth now. It is only now that I get to understand how green mango works perfectly on savory dishes.

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Ninak also has this Green Chicken Curry, a blend of chicken, veggies like carrots, young corn and eggplants infused in coconut oil , simmered in a concoction made with Thai green curry paste. My boyfriend almost ate eat like a soup and he really liked this the most because of the heat in the dish.

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If you or your companions would like to have chicken wings instead, try Ninak's Vietnamese Chicken Wings, which is dressed with nước mắm glaze. Nước mắm is a Vietnamese dipping sauce and Ninak did it without the added salty taste to the chicken. This is definitely a must-try.

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Another must-try (and must share) is their Phad Thai, which is basically stir-fried noodles in tamarind sauce and chicken bits, topped with fried eggs, peanuts, bean sprouts and cilantro. I can also see specks of chili flakes in this dish which made it damn better. Being a fan of noodles, and this is a breakaway from the usual pancit canton and spaghetti. I just love the taste and freshness of this dish, especially if you spritz some lime on top.

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Of all the places I have been to, never have I encountered Crispy Beef Belly. It's amazing to taste this dish because even though it gets cooked as such, you cannot underestimate it's spicy and tender interior of these big US beef belly pieces. This is just a wonderful thing to eat with one of their rice dishes. Uniquely presented, as it's topped with chopped fried garlic and chilies.

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Ninak served this Grilled Vietnamese Pork straight from the kitchen to our table. It's marinated and served with singkamas relish and nước mắm sauce. Sweet and tender, pork lovers won't be disappointed with the quantity with the food at Ninak. Even I can't keep up with the generous serving of this dish. 

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Another noodle dish which Ninak serves is their Pha Ga, which they serve in the most authentic way possible. Clear chicken broth with noodles, sliced chicken, bean sprouts and herbs. DJ Jose carefully puts a good amount of sauce, both sweet and spicy, and when mixed, is the ultimate foodgasm. I have been to a number of vietnamese noodle houses in the metro, but I think that Ninak's Pha Ga is the ultimate comfort food. I would love to come back for this especially since a lot of rainy days are sure about to come.

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So I was telling you guys about this picture of all the dishes above, and before I finally discussed the dishes one by one, here is how I ate EVERYTHING. I thanked the owners for doing a great job in choosing to have this type of dining plate for Ninak, as all the dishes fit perfectly on it! I would really like to make this a cover photo on my Facebook page in the next few days.

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After a moment of silence, I can fairly say that I did finish everything. In the words of Adam Richman, man won. Oh wait, I was wrong. Food won. Especially when the desserts came one after another.

Red Rubies is made with coconut milk, shaved ice and water chestnuts, which resembles strawberries in terms of color and texture. Taste is cool and tropical, and not that sweet. Really good. Another unique idea of Ninak is their use of sweet fried wonton wrapper in replacement for the usual cornflakes (they also have a savory version which they serve as nibblers while waiting for your order, and they're called Ninak Crunchies).

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Of course, how could you not include our own Halo-Halo as a comfort food? See the colorful layers on this glass, and that huge slab of leche flan too! I really cannot finish this without the help of my boyfriend. I was literally having a food coma by the time I was eating this.

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Soon enough, we were served with Onde Onde, a Malaysian sweet treat. I wasn't able to tell if this was made with either glutinous rice flour or sweet potato flour, but these pingpong ball sized treats are rolled in coconut, and be careful though, because when you bite into an Onde Onde a burst of palm sugar syrup starts to ooze out of the package. Both the Red Rubies and the Onde Onde are soon to be included in Ninak's updated menu.

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Another signature from Ninak is the Turon Halo-Halo. Same ingredients, different packaging. It's crispy and sweet outside, and even sweeter inside! It's one hot sexy Halo-Halo I must say. Garnished with sesame seeds and syrup, I was telling over and over again that food won.

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They also served us these solo treats of Creme Brulee and Leche Flan. Both with the same ingredients but different techniques to make it. I really love the texture of the creme brulee, as always. Although it has added a bit of France to the menu, it didn't ruin the flavors that were being enjoyed in the first few parts of the meal. Even our leche flan stood out. It's the usual leche flan, yes, but hey, this is comfort food we're talking about. And Ninak delivers that authenticity with flying colors.

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So here's the thing. As simple as it gets, if you want to ease up the travel time and additional expenses to roam around Asia just try these dishes, then Ninak is the most convenient place for you to try all of them. It's a foodie's Asian comfort food paradise and I am looking forward to take my family and friends to come back here very soon. Appreciate!

I've decided not to include the prices because they might change without notice. But if you wanted to check out more (yes more) of their dishes and their prices as well as promos, feel free to like and share their official page below.

Ninak Restaurant's Official Facebook Page

1 comment:

  1. This is a place where food that is familiar to one's palate comes with a twist, or for those not familiar with asian food need not be adventurous to try a dish or two