Not Your Usual Surf and Turf at El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro in Timog

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When a crab with a hat welcomes you to come inside a restaurant, it should be intriguing.
If there's one thing to say when it comes to places I love to hang out or eat, places like Tomas Morato, Timog, and all its sergeant and scout streets aren't new places for me. Then again, it always becomes a little more exciting whenever I see new restaurants popping out of the corners at these areas. One of which is El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro.

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Different shots of local scenes and seafood
For a fact, El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro not associated with any other El Cangrejo restaurant you would see on Facebook, neither it is a Spanish restaurant (because of its name), and most of all, neither it is like any other crab restaurant you would typically know of here in Manila. 

Let's just say, I'm a self-confessed chicken and shrimp allergy-stricken foodie who is now a fan of their dishes. And nope, this is not hard sell. I'm just someone eager to tell everyone that the place is worth the trip and trying. And yeah, after my first El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro experience, I just hope that my schedule can permit me to come back soon.

El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro is a seafood lover's getaway from the usual, as it is neatly (and I mean that) located inside Jardin de Zenaida at Sgt. Esguerra. It's very much 'neatly' located there that you cannot see it when passing by the street, so make sure you have keen eyes when looking for it. 

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Rustic, homey interiors at El Cangrejo
Although a signage may be coming soon, the almost 50-seater El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro opened earlier during  the last quarter of 2013 and has already built a cult following of nearby condominium residents, nearby office workers, those working at nearby television networks and even some resident doctors.

So what is it exactly about El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro that's so unique? Though it might be a tad obvious as to what they are offering, the restaurant is based basically on the owner's love for seafood and wine. It boasts of fresh local seafood, both usual and unusual, done in French twists, but priced just right.

So, with a mighty heart and a dose of antihistamine, here are some of the dishes I've tried there:

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Baked Scallops
 El Cangrejo's Baked Scallops, served on its own shells, comes as a kick start to our dinner. Each piece is drenched with a special butter sauce and tasted divine. The scallops were cooked perfectly, not chewy at all. A light spritz of fresh lemon juice greatly accentuates it altogether.

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These Clam Steamers, served with bread that's baked in-house and a bit similar to focaccia, is very warming. Back at home, we used to eat clams the traditional way: cooked with a few tomatoes, onions, and white wine until all the clam juices oozes out and gets combined with the rest of the ingredients, forming this wonderful seafood flavor.

El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro's Chefs, however, doesn't mind putting a healthy dose of cream on this dish. Even the bread is quite a star, as it's made with a special yeast that El Cangrejo's Chef called 'Lala Yeast'. I must admit I had a lot of 'Lala bread' when these clam steamers came out. I can't help but soaking it up on the sauce and getting away with it.
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Clam Steamers
If you are a fan of Buffalo Wings, then it's a surprise to see that El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro serves the same thing. But they offer it in chubby, boneless portions, so no worries about having to get into those chicken bones from time to time. Me and my boyfriend usually cook this before as a beer snack, so this dish tastes a bit like how we used to make it. It's crispy, tangy and more on the spicy side so this is perfect for those who like it that way. This dish is served with a generous amount of blue cheese sauce with yogurt.

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Boneless Buffalo Wings
There's always a classy vibe when you get prawn cocktails on your table, especially when they are this huge. Armored with its own cocktail sauce which resembles salsa, and a bed of freshly julienned cabbage and carrots at the bottom of the glass, it's an appetizer made from the most basic ingredients, but packaged in its highest order. As much as I wanted to chow it down myself, El Cangrejo's Prawn Cocktail is good for two people to four light eaters aka chicks. Haha.

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Prawn Cocktail
To be honest, seeing the prawn cocktail already caused me to have a bit of caution to not eat it, until I saw this dish. El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro's Grilled Ulang is another obvious reason on why I instantly fell in love with seafood all over again. It was supposed to be scary, but nooooo...I took my time and challenged myself to eat this.

These two giant freshwater shrimps that's being sourced locally is served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and topped with a lemon wedge. Rather than just getting an entree at other restaurants for the same price but without the add-ons, El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro offers all their entrees in a set, complete with your choice veggies (salad or sauteed) and carbs (potatoes or rice). Now that's value for money.

I am very pleased with the quantity of the dish, but in terms of quality, I just think that seafood is never wrong to eat just as long as it is fresh. The ulang, however, is a bit sinful, thanks to the fatty portion when trying to eat its head, and the very impressive siding of Beurre Noisette (brown butter). This is where sucking isn't considered a bad thing....right guys? :)

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Grilled Ulang tossed in Beurre Noisette
Another unique dish that El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro offers is their take on the Italian classic ravioli, but instead of the usual white sheet of pasta, they made it a little more majestic and used squid ink to come up with this black and white striped pasta, or as they call it, 'zebra pasta'.

And it's no fatty joke, because it's only filled with fresh crabmeat, and replaced butter/tomato sauce with aligue (crab fat) sauce. It's a piece of crab heaven inside a blanket, I must say.

After a few bites of the Crabmeat Ravioli in Aligue Sauce, I preferred to eat this with a splash of lemon. And yeah, all the dishes here basically needs the same thing, hence a rule of thumb: If it becomes a bit overwhelming, cut it down with lemon.

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Crabmeat Ravioli with Aligue Sauce
Speaking of lemons, there's more when you order this massive plate of Fish and Chips. Best served hot and crispy with a bottle of either a local or imported beer that's available at El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro.

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Fish and Chips
Just when I thought I was having enough fish and shellfish on my stomach, I wasn't really hoping for more. But when these metal shellfish set of openers and spoons came, I knew that I was in for another surprise.

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So here are El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro's Steamed Mudcrabs and tossed in Beurre Noisette. Brown butter, used in a lot of their dishes, is a killer in all sorts of ways. Nutty, hearty, warm tones balances each and every piece of seafood. Thank you El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro for giving us a lot of brown butter to devour all throughout our meal.

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Steamed Mudcrabs tossed in Beurre Noisette
Now I'm no wine connoisseur, but washing down all that seafood goodness is never complete without a glass (or maybe a few glasses) of white wine. Here we had a bottle of La Umbra Pinot Grigio 2011. I'd have to leave the wine to the experts though. For me, the thought of me drinking is already enough, so I don't need to explain it further hahaha!

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El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro offers a number of special wines, both red and white, that you can order to accompany your dish. And as I've said earlier, they do serve local and imported beers, but they usually don't get the drinking crowd because of the other nearby bars who serve it by the bucket.

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Apple Pie als Mode
Of course, dinner at El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro isn't complete without dessert! Here we got this classic homemade Apple Pie ala Mode, served with caramel sauce. Fruity but not too sweet, a simple way to end your meal.

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El Cangrejo's Special Cake
El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro may have limited list of desserts, but I've got no complaints with their 'Special Cake', only in the form of a no-bake chocolate cheesecake with blueberry topping. Quite a special name for a cake, isn't it? It tastes like non-fat chocolate ice cream on a graham crust with a sweet blueberry sauce. My kind of dessert!

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El Cangrejo totally changed my perspective on eating crabs and scallops and fish. I admit I am a big meat eater and haven't really appreciated much from our shelfish friends. I thought seafood was meant to be a light option. I never knew I'd get full eating just seafood...

...and I've never had that much brown butter my entire life. I've had my dose of guilty pleasures, and it's I've had an awesome dinner indeed!

Not everyone may know this, but El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro also has this aim to promote local farmers from various provinces in the Philippines. It's nice to know that a restaurant that's fairly new to the public looks forth to doing good deeds especially to those whom they consider as important sources of main ingredients.

El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro is also available for lunch and dinner, caterings and special seafood take outs as well. The chefs and owners are looking forward to coming up with new offerings in the coming months, so I highly suggest you visit the place soon!

El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro Official Website (coming soon)

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