My love affair with THE BAGNET started when my Mom's good friend and my ninong, Robert Kuan, former Chowking owner, opened a Filipino restaurant in Rockwell back in the early 2000s. It was called Hot Cafe, hope you guys still remember it! Back then it was being managed by his older son, but alas, he seemed to not have inherited his father's ala-Midas-touch with restaurants and food.
Before it closed, every time Mom and I would be at Rockwell, I made sure I ate bagnet at Hot Cafe. It was a must!! I liked how the meat was soft, not the rubbery type. When you chewed on it, the meat breaks down into tiny pieces, good enough to swallow wihthout having to choke to death. It was pure bliss. And with rice, PATAYAN NA!
And also because I am of Ilocano decent, bagnet is a familiar dish in our family. My lola made HEAVENLY bagnets before Mom became the health freak that she is now. Ever since my lola died, Mom who has been in control of our food, we've stopped eating "unhealthy" food for fear of dying from cholesterol overload. And yes, for my very dearest mother goose, bagnet is one of the deadliest sins!!! My lola on the other didn't give a hoot, as long as her apos were happily filled and contented, she was at peace with herself! *I MISS YOU LOLA!!* :)
Anyway, back to my post. I haven't eaten bagnet in such a looong time! It was only this year when my best friend Amanda told me of her interest in opening a BAGNETAN in Sucat for our business venture. So, the bagnet is back in the groove, me thinks! She insisted I tried the bagnet place near our former school, somewhere in Estrada. But we never got to.
But there was a bagnet place near our house. The name: 8065 Bagnet. Literally just a stone's throw from our place, the funny thing is that I have never set foot in it. I drive past it every damn day, but I still haven't gotten that chance to try it. When I take a quick look inside it's filled with customers, some times even foreigners. So it must be really good.
So one night one of my closest college friends, Mariko, decided to swing by Makati (which is like once in a blue moon). While waiting for her mother's call to pick her up in Manila, me and Mariko decided to try that much-talked about bagnetan. She laughed at my sorry ass because I lived nearby and it was just my first time to try it.
When we got there, the ambiance was relaxed and quiet. Exactly like a home, but way funkier! There were 4 tables outside, and several more inside. It was homey and I loved it! We opted to stay outside, and I must say it was well-ventilated. There was even a little "pond" at the side, where a cute Kermit the Frog, a lone turtle, and a couple of shy fishes, welcome hungry diners.
Of course, we came there for the bagnet, but there were other entrees available. It was unbelievably cheap! It was Mariko's first time to eat bagnet, I had to tell her it was like lechon kawali but WAY better! The bagnet virgin decided to try the original platter, which had the bagnet, a cup of rice, achara, and green mango with bagoong. She fell in love with the bagoong and even wanted to order more green mangoes. She reported to me that the bagnet was delish! She loved the tenderness of the meat, and I tell her that's exactly how bagnet should be served. It should be soft and tender, but the meat should still be intact. That would be her lovely plate, with the disturbed rice. I had to stop her so I could take a picture first!
I, on the other hand, decided to play around with my order, since I've had original bagnet way back! I tried the kare-kare bagnet. And when it came out, I made some gagging sounds. The food presentation was sooo not okay. So I thought the taste would make up for it. Alas, I was a bit disappointed. There was no way in hell that it tasted like kare-kare! But at least, the bagnet's meat was tender, or else I would've made a fit! Hello! ILOKANO HERE! I KNOW AUTHENTIC BAGNET Y'ALL! And as a kare-kare lover, they all should have been struck by lightning from God above with their sorry attempt at "kare-kare bagnet". I should have just stuck to the original! That would be my food...eeww right?!
But since I found Mariko's order more yummy looking, my fork found it's way to her bagnet, more often than it was on my plate. And it was YUMMEEEEYYY!!! :) I don't eat rice anymore, but the occasion called for it! I felt guilty afterwards, since my meal wasn't as good as I expected it to be.
And please don't be discouraged. There are other meals to be tried and other bagnet variants to be ordered! So yes, I give 8065 Bagnet a 50-50 on my food-o-meter. I'm no food critic, but I know my food, especially when I've had them since I was a kid! My lola would've gone stark raving mad with the kare-kare bagnet. But she would've also given them a two-thumbs up with the original. :)
So if you guys want to try 8065 Bagnet, come on over to 8065 Estrella Ave., San Antonio Village, Makati City. Give them a ring at 508-1807.
Hit this and be a fan of 8065 Bagnet on Facebook!