Restaurant Review: Carinderia ni Tandang Sora
We Filipinos love our puns and laughs. No matter how dark are the times, we still love making jokes, making everyone smile through songs, performances even just having a simple meal together. So if you read the title a little faster, you get the pun. Carinderia.
Kain means Eat. And carinderia is a Filipino term for a road side eatery with wooden tables and benches located everywhere in the Philippines where travellers get to stop for a quick meal, selecting food from soup to ribs to barbecue to dessert even an ice cold beer.
When I retire, I dont mind opening a carinderia, not just a good one… but the best one. As they say when you retire, you go back to the simple life. I dont mind. So Kain There Ya?
Tandang Sora. One of the national women heroes in the 19th Century during the revolution against the Spanish occupation in the Philippines.
Talking about revolution. Filipino food in Dubai or in the UAE needs a remake. A revolution. In terms of quality. We Filipinos tend to go over quantity over quality. Best example is during fiestas, which is so common in my province, Iloilo. Where town fiestas are weekly. That’s why my mum loves living there so much. She gets to go around towns and eat for free! =) That’s our hobby. Eating.
Hosts in fiestas tend to cook too many dishes quickly since they are scared they might run out of food being served to guests so they ignore quality and go for quantity rather than being gossiped and laughed at by their neighbors. Gossip. Filipino pastime. Small town mentality. Fact.
So combining Carinderia and Tandang Sora? Why not. Its a revolution of how we eat Filipino Food.
So I got an invite on a lazy hot Friday weekend to check out their newly opened branch in Karama. Bigger and better. I heard their first branch, the one in Deira is always overflowing with customers that you need an hour to wait for a table. Well, I hope the quality is maintained in that branch with their busy operations.
So gone are days of Filipino restaurants in Dubai serving you food heated in a microwave. That was so 2005-2008. Who likes their Sinigang Soup fresh from the microwave oven anyway?! That was crap and full of bull… That’s why I dont eat out and rather cook at home if I am craving for Filipino food.
So here comes Tandang Sora and her Carinderia. The place looks good. Clean. Sanitized. And good interiors. The bricks on the walls make it a little homey. Reminds me of my Grandmother’s ancestral home back in Iloilo.
When I saw the menu which was like 8 pages filled with microscopic text mentioning all the dishes they had, I instantly looked away and asked my friend to order for all of us. *vertigo— I am guessing they had all the Filipino dishes from all the regions and islands, more than 100 I assume. But I might be wrong. I’m guessing its a good way of them testing what do customers usually order then select the best ones and consolidate their menu into a really good one that nothing goes to waste. Maybe.
So we ordered for starters, the Crispy Isaw as requested by my brother. Isaw is what. Isaw is intestine. Chicken. Crispy chicken intestines served in spicy vinegar. Not my favorite tbh. Soup came next. The classic Sinigang Soup of a head of a Salmon. Nice. Sinigang is always good for me wherever I go or whoever cooks it.
Now, I know this Filipino Boodle Fight thing has been there for awhile but never tried it. I was never a fan of sharing my meal if it is served in the same leaf as the others. I just dont. I dont even share my spicy soy dip with anybody. I just dont like it. But sharing, I dont mind. I heard Boodle Fight was a military way of eating where all the food is served in banana leaves and eating everything with your hands. Very Filipino. So here we go. My first Boodle Fight. I remember seeing these Boodle Fight meals in my friends’ Facebook years ago. And I get to finally try it four years later.
They had several types of Boodle Fight or Group Meals. We had the one named Mindanao.
The Mindanao Boodle, which is good for 4-5 people cost only 200 AED, which is really not bad in terms of cost and value. I was surprised. It was a good sign. This restaurant will go places. Oh did I mention you also have unlimited rice and ice tea in the package?! Yum!
The food was served in a tray with Grilled everything, prawns, chicken, beef, fish, squid and some all time Filipino favorite, noodles or pancit. We were given our own banana leaf for our plates. So no sharing. Happy!
Another happy tummy.
If there is such a place that I need to bring guests from different countries to try out Filipino food, I don’t mind bringing them here. They just have to be ready on what they’ll be eating. =) The place is clean, service is attentive and quick. Prices are reasonable. Just some feedback on the grilled food. The time I ate there, the grilled stuff like the squid and chicken were a little bitter to my taste. The marinade was a little too sweet where the sugar didn’t completely dissolve so when the met was grilled, the sugar was burnt. So I hope next time it doesn’t happen again. Because that wont stop me from recommending this place.
I have yet to come back and try the dishes and completely declare that this restaurant really deserves the Filipino stars on their badge on representing true Filipino cuisine and service.
Carinderia ni Tandang Sora is located in Karama, near the park behind Kalyan Jewellers.
Parking is easy here compared to the one in Deira branch.
Check out their Facebook page here