What I love most about Makati is that it’s a great haven to discover hidden gems of restaurants. Each street offers its own resource of food shops and all sorts of what-nots. When in Manila and if you’re in the mood or daring to try out something new, there’s a restaurant at Perea St. where you can eat some Yugoslavian Home Cooking.
Balkan is a small restaurant in Legaspi Village offering authentic Yugoslavian dishes that were kinda hard to pronounce but were oh so good to eat. The sign outside the restaurant may be a little too hard to read due to the fact that it’s written in their native language. Once you see the sign that reads similarly though then you’re at the right place.
The interiors do try to incorporate an authentic feel. Nice choice in the use of the color red on the walls to simulate one’s appetite and the touches of black and white photographs which show famous landmarks and people from the Balkan states. The owner himself (Mr. Marko Batricevic) came from one of those countries. The ceiling is also adorned with patterns that are native to the country.
First up is a traditional Goulash (Php 250). While some of the bloggers who were at the tasting event liked it, I found it a little too oily for my taste.
If you like feta cheese then you can do no wrong with starting off your meal with a Sopska Salata (Php 200). It is a salad made from cucumber, tomatoes, onions, olives and lettuce.
Our taste buds were further teased by a serving of Cevapcici (Php 280) which are traditional Serbian sausages made from spiced ground beef. I’m not a big fan of ground sausages but I liked this one very much. The spice wasn’t too overwhelming and the meat’s consistency was just right.
Next on my tasting plate were two ways that the Pljeskavica was served. One in the traditional burger way and the other was stuffed. The traditional burger, Pljeskavica (Php 200) had a big serving and with a generous side dish of fries. The patty tastes almost like Cevapcici but flattened to fit a bun. Quite delicious.
The Stuffed Pljeskavica (Php 320) blew my mind though. It’s the same meat used in Cevapcici and on the patty of the traditional burger but this time stuffed with mozzarella. I gotta say, the rice that came with it was by far the most delicious rice I’ve ever tasted. I’m saying this because I’m not a big fan of it but this type of rice might actually make me love it from now on.
The Sarma (Php 260) is a dish of pickled cabbage rolls stuffed with beef, rice and spices. It’s more because of my preference though but I wasn’t a fan of the cabbage rolls. The others seemed to like it though.
Of course, the tasting wouldn’t be complete without us getting a serving of Balkan’s famous Batak (Php 290). Batak is made from chicken meat, boneless chicken thigh to be precise which was grilled and then topped with melted mozzarella. Now I get why it became their trademark dish.
I love bell peppers and one dish that we were served wasn’t on the menu but I’m hoping that it will become a regular someday. This red bell pepper dish doesn’t look as spicy as it might look and smell, I loved it so much! It just offers a refreshing break in between meat dishes.
The two main highlights of the evening were lavishly prepared but ultimately very tasty dishes. The Butkice (Php 650) is a must-try if you’re eating at Balkan. The pork knuckles in the dish has been cooked for several hours for the meat to be as tender and soft that it’s almost like butter in your mouth. I kid you not. This is easily the best dish of the whole bunch. It’s a bit pricey but well worth it.
For fans of lamb meat, the Jagnjetina (Php 700) will be the best choice. This one has also been cooked until the meat is tender. You don’t get to slather it with mint sauce though, trust me when I say that it’s good on its own.
To finish off the feast, there’s the Palacinke (Php 120) for dessert. It’s a simple crepe dessert filled with Nutella. Nothing special here but it’s a nice way to cap off a full meal.
For meat lovers, Balkan will be a sure hit. Although it might not be as popular as Chinese or Japanese cuisine, Yugoslavian home cooking can easily become Filipino favorites. The taste palette is not as foreign as you might deem it to be, in fact I’m pretty sure most people will like it. Sometimes it’s really best to try something new just to shake things around. When in Manila, dare yourself to have a happy tummy at Balkan, the home of Yugoslavian cooking in Manila.
Yugoslavian Home Cooking
G/F Maripola Bldg. 109 Perea St., Legaspi Village, Makati City
Mobile: 0917-5474188 (look for Marko) Tel: 846- 0744 Delivery: 2121212