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Bamba Bistro, BF Homes Review: Soul Food in the South

October 10, 2013

Chef Tina Legarda’s name, as a private chef serving up great food at Tina’s Table, has been bandied about in local culinary circles for quite some time now. I never did get to try her fare, but with everyone serving up praises, I expected the food at her flagship restaurant, Bamba, to be great. Tucked away in BF Paranaque, a village that is becoming more and more known as a culinary destination, Bamba is a great and welcome addition to the ever-growing list of restaurants making their home in the area. There are a few problematic dishes on its menu, but overall, Bamba is a great place for Southerners to get no-frills, comforting grub.

The menu at Bamba is pretty extensive, with dishes that one would expect in a more high-end establishment. The fact that Legarda personally makes some of the pasta and bread is also a really admirable thing, as even some of the more well-known restaurants don’t do that. I really think it makes a difference.

Duck Ravioli with Porcini Cream Sauce and Truffle (PHP 495)

Bamba’s Duck Ravioli is a well-conceived dish that you can definitely imagine coming from an upscale restaurant. I’ve slowly started hating truffle, but her use of it is subtle and restrained rather than being an assault on the senses. The duck and ricotta filling is generous, the flaky shredded duck is never overpowered by the ricotta’s creaminess.

Le Cochon Sliders: crispy pork belly, red cabbage slaw, fried wontons, eel sauce (PHP 350)

Bistro St. Salad: grilled tenderloin, blue cheese, walnuts, crispy onion, balsamic cream (PHP 390)

The Cochon Sliders should be hailed as Bamba’s signature dish.

My favorite item on the menu is the Cochon Sliders, crisp pork belly with eel sauce. Maybe it’s just me, but seriously, how many times have you ever seen eel sauce on a menu? The Cochon Sliders are a great study in textural contrast, with the fried wonton, crisp slaw, and chicharon-esque skin providing a much-needed crunch to the eel sauce-soaked bread and unctuous fat of the belly. This is such an innovative take on a classic banh mi, and something Bamba should hail as their signature dish. Most of the items on the menu are actually riffs on old classics, but with surprising new combinations, and it serves Bamba well. The Bistro St. Salad with balsamic cream, fried string onions, and blue cheese is something you would never really find on a salad, but add some grilled tenderloin, and it suddenly makes for a great starter.

Steak ala Manila with Truffled Scrambled Eggs (PHP 690)

However, not everything in Bamba is a winner, and sometimes the combinations do fall flat. The Steak ala Manila was a general disappointment. The waiter told me that this was what people kept coming back for, but I didn’t find it very good. The concept itself is great, steak with a tapa marinade, but the flavors were weak, neither sweet nor garlicky. The quality of the meat made it very tough to both slice and chew. I suspect this has something to do with the PHP 690 price tag. They probably sourced their meat from somewhere more affordable. The lamb adobo was also hard to deal with, full of unrendered fat and bony pieces with too little meat for a main course. I’m willing to blame this on costs and meat suppliers, though, rather than the chef’s cooking.

What’s my name again?: chocolate, cream, crunch (PHP 150)

The Verdict

It’s hard not to like the place.

For what it is, Bamba is good. Nothing about this place is pretentious, and what they promise their customer, they deliver. The premise, as well as the food, is straightforward, with some concepts that are definitely new and interesting. It’s hard not to like the place, especially when the chef is all smiles, and seems to be having a blast playing in her kitchen. If it were located anywhere else, however, it might suffer from stiff competition from better joints with similar concepts. As a comfy little bistro in a quaint neighborhood, however, it holds its own.

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The opinions in this review are solely from our writer. If you’re curious about how we conduct our reviews, please check out our ethics page.

Bamba Bistro
55 Aguirre Ave cor Arsenio
Luz B.F. Homes, Parañaque
(02) 519-7097

Pamela Cortez Pamela Cortez writes about food full-time, and has honed her craft while writing for publications such as Rogue, Town and Country, and The Philippine Star. She once rode on a mule for a mile just to eat mint tea and lamb in Morocco, and has eaten a block of Quickmelt in one sitting. Her attempt at food photography can be viewed online @meyarrr. FOLLOW
15 comments in this post SHOW

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Mark
Mark

This review is spot on! Awesome work. I guess that the point on it being different from the competition of Aguirre Ave. is true but I really hope that their prices wont disenfranchise the regulars of Aguirre.

On a totally illogical note: the spot of Bamba is “bad luck”. 3 restaurants opened and closed on that spot in the past 2 years I think. All of them weren’t even that bad.

Lars Roxas
Lars Roxas

i call forgotten graveyard under the foundations.

Mark
Mark

Well, Chill box was the very first one. It was the one that renovated the house into a restaurant (which is the usual case for most Aguirre restaurants). I admit, that was totally crap. I forget what was after, but the one after that was Felix tacos. That restaurant was good. It served…well..tacos. But what was good about it was the fact that it was in the authentic style tacos (like army navy). After that was another restaurant that kinda merged with felix tacos, but then, it closed.

Ramona
Ramona

I agree that the mains are nothing great, but everything else is super good!! Their artichoke crostini is delicious and very instagram worthy. How often do you see a whole artichoke served on a crostini? We are fans of the bistro street salad, duck ravioli and the cochon sliders too. A must try is their milkshake. So thick and worth every calorie! Everyone should head to the South and try Bamba even just once.

Jack

very good review ms pamela!

cris
cris

yipes! maybe it was a bad day. when we went the tapa and lamb adobo were ace! I was contemplating on orderinf the sliders. now i know to order it when we go again.

NYSee
NYSee

Is that chocolatey thing in the bowl champorado with breakfast cereal?

Eduardo
Eduardo
GGNM
GGNM

The Huevos Rancheros is the one I always order when I dine there. I totally agree with your review of the Steak ala Manila, I too was disappointed. I also agree with one of the comments earlier about the Artichoke Crostini, that was surprisingly good. But if you guys/gals have not tried the Huevos then schedule another trip back to Bamba’s!

trackback
[…] When I first reviewed Bamba, a lot of readers went off in the comments, saying that I was mistaken, or that it must have been a bad experience. And truly, since then, Bamba has become one of Aguirre’s most beloved restaurants, and Chef Tina Legarda has grown with it. There is hardly any complaint, nay a bad review, about the place, which serves international, slightly upscale comfort food in a setting that makes one feel at home. I always thought Bamba had potential, but had mistakes that were easily fixable. So it was time to revisit the neighborhood restaurant, and… Read more »
Madeline S. De Leon
Madeline S. De Leon
We ( group of 7) had dinner at Bamba last night . Since I reviewed the blogs prior to going there…………I ordered for the group. We had Huevos Flamencos, Patatas Fritas and the Artichoke Crostini for appetizers. Then we had Bistro St. Salad, Duck Ravioli and the Lamb adobo. The number 1 favorite is the Duck Ravioli . For the dessert, we had S’ mored dip, the Pizzokie and Apple Pie a la mode. The group had different favorites with regards to the dessert. Mine was the Pizzokie and the Apple Pie . The place was cozy. Thanks for all… Read more »
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