The other day, the Prodigal J sent me a BBM in his usual authoritative manner: "I had dinner at XO last night. For once we agree on a restaurant." He was referring to a blog entry I had written on XO 46 last month.
His message made me smile. It was a BBM begging for a detailed discussion. I replied: "So you liked XO? My friends will be happy to hear that, coming from you." Then I reminded him: "And you've agreed with me on restaurants before. You just don't remember - having a selective memory and all." I put a smiley face at the end just to make sure he knew I was just teasing him. But of course he knew this anyway, because he's always teasing me.
His reply came pretty quickly: "We didn't agree on XXX or on YYY." He mentioned one restaurant he likes a lot and which I didn't have a great dinner at, and another restaurant I frequent which he describes as not authentic enough -- so, not good enough for him.
Aside from XO 46, we do definitely agree on a couple of Paris restaurants and one particular restaurant in Manila as being very good -- but he likes to think I liked this Manila restaurant only because he used to take me there. So not true.
A GLASS HALF-EMPTY
Nevertheless, I left that other restaurant out of the picture and just focused on the two in dispute. I then said: "Ok, that's two out of a whole universe of restaurants. Do you always have to look at a glass as half-empty?"
So J and I have this type of discussion about restaurants and a couple of other things when he gets in the mood; but fortunately we were pretty much in agreement about XO 46, a new Filipino restaurant in Salcedo Village, which is currently earning lots of rave reviews. I'm happy J actually likes it as he's a natural critic and terribly hard to please; and I'm also happy to have been among the first to post glowing remarks about it, and since then there's literally been an avalanche of praise.
FULL HOUSE AND GLOWING REVIEWS
Every bit of the praise is well-earned. Since it opened, it has been serving a full house practically every night, and so many of the guests are repeat customers looking for comfort food. I'm one of them.
XO opened in June but I can't even count anymore how many times I've been back to eat there -- and each time, I've always just eaten way too much. My favorites are the bangus salpicao, the callos, and their mantecado ice cream. As of this weekend, too, a beef kaldereta was added to my list but it's not yet on XO's official menu. You'll have to wait a couple of weeks for this to come on the menu, but I can assure you that the wait will be worth it. Someone put a serving plate of this in front of me this weekend, and I had the whole thing to myself -- and then seconds. And this was after I'd already had the sisig and lots of everything else.
DOWN MEMORY LANE
However, my favorite memories of XO so far -- yes, it's two months old and already I have my favorite memories -- include a breakfast I had here with XO's owner, Sandee Masigan, one Monday morning. XO isn't open for breakfast, but I'd gatecrashed someone's board meeting and ended up having the most amazing breakfast with Sandee at the back of the restaurant afterwards. We had a dreamy Spanish tortilla (and to think I don't even like egg dishes), lots of spicy sausages, garlic fried rice, goto, bangus, and a wonderful chocolate cake all the way from Pampanga to end. That's got to be my favorite breakfast ever.
The other favorite memory is from a couple of weeks ago. I was due to have dinner with Andrew and Sandee, and two of their friends, but I'd been working late and so I'd only made it to XO at 10 PM.
Still, it wasn't too late to join the fun. Sandee had an entire dinner served up just for me (and everyone basically watched me eat), and then we stayed up till morning laughing about all kinds of things and getting sentimental on some of the OPM songs playing in the background. Yes, XO 46 only has OPM music on its sound system.
One of them really was so beautiful and it was something I hadn't heard in a very long time. So as soon as I got home that night, I looked for it on You Tube. Here it is...and it's now an integral part of one of my memories of XO 46.
And I'm sure I'll have a whole lot more XO46 memories from now.
Join our Travelife Italy events this September.
TRAVELIFE Italy Night
with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace
TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
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Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE