Last month, during my first week in my new work, when two of our co-workers would serve their last day in the office, we went to the newest restaurant at the Ayala Triangle Gardens, Simple Lang, and had dinner there. The restaurant was featured in a TV show hosted by a self-serving, egocentric celebrity and, thus, would raise such lofty expectations.
Does it live to the hype? If you skipped the restaurant’s soft opening, yes. For the past month, I’ve eaten here thrice and the dishes are consistently good. The service has also significantly improved since our first time, when it took more than hour for us to get seated, and another half-hour before our food arrived.
Simple Lang‘s decors and the Taglish lines that litter the place foreground the restaurant’s non-traditional approach to Filipino food. If you’re looking for Filipino comfort food, you’ll find it here – the dishes are still the familiar ones we grew up eating, only with a few creative twists. The restaurant is by the same guys of the acclaimed Kabila, so the dishes remain as some of the most flavorful and attractively prepared Filipino cooking around, although just as with that restaurant near the Ayala Museum, the prices are a bit heavy on the wallet.
The drinks, like Mango Sago, are great to offset the humid air outside and make for a great introduction to your meal.
I’ve never understood the essence of using hashtags in the offline world and it’s actually one of my pet peeves, but at least I can give #tusoktusok a pass, if only because I like its attempt to provide familiarity in an unexpected setting. So, yeah, you have the street favorites fish balls, kikiam, chicken skin, crispy pork tenga and squid ball with sweet and spicy dip, all served in a casual restaurant.
The restaurant’s bestseller, though, is the Crispy Palabok. It’s like the usual Filipino rice noodle dish topped with bagnet, shrimp, tinapa bits and egg, except the noodles are served dried and the shrimp sauce is served on the side. The setup is such so that once you pour the sauce on the dish itself, the noodles crackle as it relents to the weight of the sauce.
For the usual belt-busting carbs, go for the Sisig Fried Rice, an amalgamation of two Filipino favorites – sisig and sinangag. It’s large enough for two, and can be eaten by itself or with ulam.
Speaking of ulam, there’s a lot to choose from. The Sizzling Char-Grilled Liempo “Dinuguan” with chopped green sili and onions is a good place to start.
For a relatively lighter fare, there are seafood and chicken dishes, like the Ginataang Manok ni Kuya with ginger, green chili, fried sili tops. This particular dish feels less Filipino than Thai, highlighting Simple Lang‘s philosophy that Filipino dishes are ripe for globalization.
Ayala Triangle Gardens,