El Cangrejo: An Incredible Rustic Seafood and Wine Experience!
When In Manila, it is very rare to find a restaurant you’ll truly fall in-love with in terms of the food, the drinks, the place, and especially, the experience. It’s never easy to find such a special dining experience that you would truly seek as the weeks pass – a sort-of de-stressing and indulging place to both soothe and satisfy yourself and your palate.
Let me tell you my story about El Cangrejo. El Cangrejo is a crab, seafood and steak bistro that aims to give a very casual or “rustic” experience to seafood, steak, and wine lovers. It’s so easy to be taken by the word “rustic” from other restaurants and yet, they emboss a very fine dining feel and experience.
This is why El Cangrejo and their dishes are so special. They are not just about the fantastic food and drinks, the experience takes the taste and flavors to something more enjoyable.
Let me take you through the food first. Ah yes, seafood heaven! El Cangrejo’s owner, Mr. Mikael Degilla, has had an extensive experience with seafood and wine throughout his entire career. He may not be the chef, but he definitelyknows his seafood. It even shows through El Cangrejo‘s menu! It’s not everyday that you find true fresh scallops and slipper lobsters in a seafood restaurant!
Combined with the chef’s artistry, Mikael Degilla‘s experienced palate creates magnificent dishes that are amplified by El Cangrejo‘s rustic experience! As I write this article, I am actually trying to think about when I can go to El Cangrejo again and make time in my busy schedule.
Anyways, back to the food! We were served the Clam Steamers, which was heavenly matched with their bread that was fermented from live yeast. We also had their New England Clam Chowder. I must say, you should order their bread; it is fantastic with the seafood appetizers! We actually had 2 rounds of the bread alone!
The entire “rustic” experience of El Cangrejo begins here. I dove in with my bread through the appetizers with my bare hands and just enjoyed every single dish. It is an experience you can only truly appreciate in El Cangrejo. It is, so to say, difficult to go all rustic in those seafood restaurants that amplify a fine dining experience. Here at El Cangrejo, the food is top class and yet, going rustic is the perfect way to enjoy it!
We were also served their Boneless Buffalo Wings that had very good thick texture of flavor, a right amount hint of spice, and a very nicely thin covering of the sauce. One deal breaker with Buffalo Wings is usually the thickness of the sauce that interferes with the spice most of the time. El Cangrejo has this nicely in-check.
Crab Claws with Cocktail Sauce was also part of our appetizers and I instantly became a fan of their Cocktail sauce since it fused well with the crab’s slightly sweet and tender taste and texture.
We had a Rincon Del Sol 2013 Chenin – Chardonnay Argentina white wine and I must say that seafood and white wine is a perfect cap to end the night! Very relaxing, very blissful. I actually drank a little over my limit during this night without me noticing it. The wine and the seafood is heaven combined. Perfect to reset the palate for each serving.
The round of Oysters was really fresh and the different sauces that came with it. Each had a great unique taste for your preference.
Moving on to the heavy weights of El Cangrejo: their Grilled Slipper Lobster with Lemon Butter Sauce really had a good balance, having the lemon come out on top of the butter and sightly neutralize the flavor of the butter to give a little bite to the slipper lobster’s taste! The texture of the slipper lobster was very gummy and soft.
The Grilled Prawns in Chimichurri Sauce had a very tender texture that was amplified by the Chimichurri sauce. Oh, and it was easy to skin-off too! These are rally big fresh prawns that are quality selected by Mr. Mikael and the chef themselves. You won’t find the prawns very fishy or “malansa” at all, that’s how they are very fresh and grilled very nicely.
With the Steamed Mud Crabs Tossed in Beurre Noisette, to be honestly speaking, I don’t really eat much crabs except for the claws. This day was something special, though, since I really dug in and feasted on the crabs. It’s the sauce they make that is just extremely perfect with each seafood dish that they were assigned to. Very similar to how sir Mikael has thought of and planned El Cangrejo‘s birth, it is precise as well on how they have created and matched the sauces and taste characteristics to each dish!
The Fish and Chips with Homemade Tartar Sauce was very appealing to me in the sense that, the tartar sauce was not too overbearing, and because the breaded fish was nowhere near oily. I loved the tartar sauce! It has a very good sweet bitter taste that I cannot comprehend how my palate enjoys it so much.
I was so caught up with all the seafood glory that when the dessert arrived, I had barely any expectation of it. I was thinking that maybe since El Cangrejo is fantastic with all the seafood dishes, the dessert might have to compromise. Lo and behold, their desserts might just be 2 dishes, but no doubt they are exquisite as well! The Apple Pie ala Mode has a very thick texture that is encompassed with its full bodied flavor. It’s not the usual Apple Pie ala Mode that gets dry and the taste is lingering inside of the texture, this one has it all full-bodied around that cinnamon-like apple taste.
The El Cangrejo Special Cake is more of their own take on the New York Cheesecake with blueberries on top. The texture here is more on the soft side, even the bottom and crust side exhibited a slightly soft gummy texture that works nicely in your mouth. Usually, cheesecakes have it really soft and then the crust being too hard, not much of a pleasant feel in the palate and overpowers blueberries since the flavor is magnified by the crust. The textures and sweetness here of the El Cangrejo Special Cake allow the blueberry essence to settle nicely in the middle of the cake.
All in all, El Cangrejo requires you to go all bare hands and go totally rustic – not the fine dining seafood type of experience, but more of a rustic seafood, steak, and wine experience where you can just relax and enjoy the great food. It is an experience that brings you closer to the dishes and love them all the more special.
For those who want to avoid getting down and dirty with the seafood with their bare hands, though, El Cangrejo also caters to them with their crabs being already cracked and ready to be easily opened. You can enjoy the same fantastic dishes while avoiding getting dirty if dining in the middle of work.
The food is fantastic, but the true love for El Cangrejo is with the experience brought out from the dining experience you get. All the freshly hand-picked and very very selected dishes that Mr. Mikael Degilla brings through El Cangrejo screams quality and a true unique seafood experience that you can almost impossibly find anywhere else! For seafood and wine, El Cangrejo will always be at the top of my mind!
El Cangrejo Crab, Seafood and Steak Bistro
Unit D1, Jardin de Zenaida, 34 Sgt. Esguerra Ave., South Triangle, Quezon City
(Jardin de Zenaida is situated along Sgt. Esguerra Avenue, between Wil’s Events Place and Packo’s bar and just behind Livestock Resto Bar.)