Lugaw is the most literal comfort dish for Filipinos. It’s the only other dish you can have when nursing an upset tummy, but that warm bowl of soft rice almost cures the soul when you’re down with the flu. But the key to a comforting bowl of congee or lugaw can be tricky: the flavor usually only comes from the meat fillings—otherwise, you only get a bowl of bland soup with a lumpy texture. But the House of Bulalugaw, a hole in the wall eatery along Project 4’s JP Rizal, hopes to change how we have our lugaw.
The House of Bulalugaw or H.O.B blends in with the rest of Project 4’s residential landscape. Drive by or walk too fast and you might miss the open spaced eatery that is as rustic as your average street side carinderia. The tables, however, are a lot more spacious and there’s more room for groups to move between tables. H.O.B. opens at three in the afternoon, making your meal here either a quick merienda stop or a late night grub run. We were the only customers when we visited at around five in the afternoon, but the owner shared that a large group of customers had just left and finished the menu’s stock of Kaldelugaw.
H.O.B’s menu items prove that lugaw need not be bland and boring or that it can only be enjoyed when sick. Their lugaw combinations include the signature Bulalugaw, the other best seller Kaldelugaw, and lugaw with other Pinoy favorites such as tapa, lechon, tocino, and pares. For our visit, we ordered their signature dish of Bulalugaw (PHP 70), a plate of Bustek or the bulalo cooked like beef steak (PHP 130), and a plate of Mini Tacos (PHP 75), which was marked on the menu as a best selling item.
The Bustek was served hot and sizzling on a plate. Unlike other carinderias that only serve more fat over lean meat to cut costs, the Bustek was a dangerously delicious combination of lean meat, litid (ligament), and other parts found in bulalo or bone marrow. The beef cuts sizzled in their own fat, the litid was tender on each bite, and the lean meat cuts were just as soft as the other parts. According to the owner, the meat was slow cooked for nine hours before being fried bistek style. It was easily our favorite dish for that day, and despite the cholesterol count increasing on each bite, we just kept filling our spoons with more.
Unfortunately the Bulalugaw tasted bland next to the Bustek. Although the bowl was large and the lugaw servings were generous, the porridge itself was too watery and didn’t partner well with the bulalo bits. I personally prefer the rice to have more fluff so that it mimics a soft bed of freshly cooked rice. Unfortunately, the lugaw had too much water and it eventually became too runny midway into finishing the bowl.
The Mini Tacos were even more disappointing. Although the hard tortilla shells were crisp and the cheese generous, the ground beef was cold and minimal compared to the rest of its ingredients. The dish was lazily and hastily prepared despite the obvious effort in the Bustek and the Bulalugaw’s bulalo bits. The item also seemed off next to the rest of the menu’s lugaw and rice/ulam combinations; perhaps H.O.B can add more beef or use bulalo bits as the taco’s filling. Plus this item’s price was a rip off compared to the “sulit” rates of the other items.
If you happen to be in H.O.B’s side of Quezon City, this humble eatery is still worth the visit. The Bustek still brings back savory and tender meat memories. Although the lugaw needed more improvement, their servings did not hold back on the meat. Hopefully their lugaw improves on succeeding visits and the kitchen works towards better consistency in the future.
Have you tried the House of Bulalugaw? What are your favorite items on the menu? Tell us in the comments section below!
The HOB or House of Bulalugaw
Number: 0917 811 2189
Address: 199 J. P. Rizal Street, Quezon City
Follow On: Facebook