What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Malabon? Is it the famous Pancit Malabon or the constant flooding during the rainy season? I bet that crispy pata or lechon pork belly did not come to mind at all.
Benny’s Lounge is a “homey” restaurant conceptualized by four friends that had the initial idea of opening a bar, but ended up becoming a full-blown Filipino restaurant and bar specializing in dishes with a slight twist – and thank goodness that they decided to do that instead!
While chatting with the friends (from left to right – head chef Ryan, general manager Ash, president JB, and kitchen manager Dave); they reminisced their hard times, humble beginnings, how the restaurant started on a whim that became a serious investment, and how it looked like a carinderia back in the day.
The team believes in quality over quantity as each dish is cooked to order, and since there will be a waiting time of 10-20 minutes once your order is placed; you are free to play around with puzzle games, read books, admire toys, or even just lounge around (pun intended).
Tortang Alimasag – Php180
I was told that the residents of Malabon have a distinct and a traditional Filipino way and taste; think of it as your Mom’s or Lola’s taste where even if you bring them to the fanciest restaurant, they will have an opinion that they know something somewhere or their cooking is much better. That is why their Tortang Alimasag is of Malabon style where it is cooked with the egg instead of on the egg. However it’s cooked, though, the rich crab and sweet egg taste still pushes through. Maybe these folks in Malabon know something that we don’t?
Bulalo Mami – Php390
It would be boring if you just play it safe and follow traditions all the time, right? Their take of the classic bulalo is surprisingly married with street beef mami. Bulalo mami is not a new thing, but actually emulates the taste of comforting street beef mami. It made me want to ask if they also have that sketchy red chili sauce that gives off a special kick. Rather than thinking of it as standard bulalo mami, which might confuse your tastebuds due to the added sweetness; approach it instead as glammed up street mami. That will make much more sense.
For the less adventurous, they also serve traditional bulalo (Php380); but either way, the bone marrow is to die for.
Crispy Pata – Php600
But why go all the way to Malabon? I’ve heard of good things and two very good reasons: Benny’s Lounge take on the crispy pata and the lechon belly. First, lets discuss the crispy pata. This is good crispy pata as you might expect from any quality restaurant, but what separates Benny’s Lounge’s crispy pata is the almost chicharon-like texture of the skin and the fact that it is boneless. Yes, there is no bone to hinder you in indulging in that sweet, savory, and juicy meat.
Benny Belly – Php680
Then there is the Benny Belly, which is not your typical crispy lechon belly. I am a frustrated chef. Heck, if I had the money, I would have taken culinary arts back in college. I do know how to make crispy pork belly Chinese style, and chef Ryan and I discussed ways to create good pork belly. My approach is basic and traditional (well, based on what I learned on YouTube anyway) and chef’s Ryan’s approach is somewhat something that can appreciate and understand the nuances of Invoker’s Tornado + Chaos Meteor + Deafening Blast combo in DotA 2. (Yes, I just gave a DotA 2 reference.)
The combined techniques used in creating the Benny Belly results in tender and juicy meat with crunchy chicharon skin, which I may say was not prepared separately and on the side. You can have either vinegar or the very traditional liver sauce. Again, making something new while still honoring tradition. But what makes the crispy pata and crispy belly great was that for something that should be really greasy, it wasn’t! I had the impression that these were baked rather than deep fried.
After all that rich and savory food, it is great to eat something sweet to mellow things out. The chocolate cookie is sweet and very dense, and goes perfectly well with the bitterness of the brewed coffee. But what really caught my attention was the cream cheese leche flan, mango panna cotta, and crispy leche flan.
Cream Cheese Leche Flan (Php95), Mango Panna Cotta (Php90), and Crispy Leche Flan (Php90)
If you are someone who loves cheesecake and leche flan, the cream cheese leche flan would be a match made in heaven for you since it has the creamy texture of cheesecake and the saltiness of cheese without overpowering the caramel and egg flavor of leche flan.
The crispy leche flan is an interesting dessert. It is crunchy and gooey at the same time, and would definitely go well with vanilla ice cream. Be careful, though, as it is very very hot.
The mango panna cotta is my favorite out of what was served due to the simplicity of it. It also has the tartness and freshness I need after having one rich dish after another.
One interesting thing that caught my attention at their counter before going home was their bottled gourmet tinapa flakes in oil (Php180). I’m a sucker for these. At home, a couple of spoonfuls over hot rice can be considered heaven. It was also my go-to meal for the next few days since it was quick and easy to prepare.
So why then go all the way to Malabon? Benny’s Lounge might be a good answer for foodies that want to try something new and something different, but yet something familiar at the same time.
721 JP Rizal ave ext., Malabon
0905 541 2366