One lunch break, my brother and I head to San Agustin Street in Salcedo Village to eat at Sofrito, a hole-in-the-wall serving Puerto Rican cuisine. It’s another restaurant in the area I’ve long wanted to try, mainly because I never have any idea what Puerto Rican food is all about.
When we arrive at the place about half an hour before noon, there are no other diners yet. The warm sun lends a cozy ambiance to the place, which isn’t that large. Pictures of Puerto Rico hang in the yellow walls, and latino music softly plays in the background.
The owner, Millie Gutierrez, opened this spot two years ago, when Latin American cuisine was yet to gain ground in the local dining scene. It was a risk considering that, aside from Mexican cuisine, Filipinos were mostly unaccustomed to the flavors of the region. Nevertheless, the fact that it’s still doing great and keeps on attracting customers who are mostly foreigners speak of the quality of the food here.
Upon ordering, we are served plantain chips. Plantain is a starchy banana-like fruit, and is a popular ingredient in Caribbean cuisines. It has a low sugar content, so it doesn’t taste as sweet as a banana. This actually catches as off-guard, as we expect something that tastes like banana chips.
For appetizer, we have a sampler plate of the empanadas. This order has the Beef, Chicken, and Cheese, Onion & Pepper (COP) varieties, which all are very addicitive, especially when dipped in the sauce. I don’t know how to describe the taste, except that it tastes very much like samosa.
We also have the restaurant’s signature item, the mofongo balls – essentially mashed plantains rolled and deep-fried. It tastes like chicharon, actually.
As lunch hour rolls around, more people stream into the restaurant, and our orders take long to arrive.
For the main dish, Joseph orders a Hamburguesa served with plantain fries.
I, meanwhile, have Mofongo Carnitas. A chunk of mofongo is topped with roast pork and served with rice and beans.
We also order a Pastelon, which we share between us. The Pastelon is the Puerto Rican version of the lasagna, in which ground beef is sandwiched between layers of fried plantain. The restaurant also serves this one with rice and beans.
We enjoy our meal, which is, honestly, quite good, before hurrying back to work.
G/F, LPL Mansion, 122 San Agustin St., Salcedo Village, Makati City(The restaurant has moved to a new location in Malate, Manila. I’m not sure of the exact address but it’s somewhere near the Plaza Remedios fountain, according to a printed sign on the window of the now-empty space the restaurant occupied.)
+63 917 8009570