Try This: Buen Comer Poquellas’ Takes on Comfort Grub Are Made Special With Homemade ComponentsSeptember 7, 2017
Teacher’s Village in Quezon City is known for its dining scene—most prominently, the restaurant- and café- (and more recently, food park)-lined streets of Malingap or Maginhawa, which has led to the area’s oversaturation over the years. Along a more unassuming part of town however (the more serene residential corner of Mapagkawanggawa and Mahabagin streets, to be exact) is Buen Comer Poquellas, a small establishment with a stall front just about the size of an Angel’s Burger kiosk where you’ll find the team taking orders, cooking, and serving up grub specialties to hungry diners in the area.
As a venture between five food-loving friends, two of whom are of a culinary background, Buen Comer began as, in co owner Chat Umali’s words, mere “katuwaan”: a fun way for the gang to bond over their longtime love of food. Though initially meant to go the Tex-Mex route, their first event—a Filipino-themed bazaar held in Makati—had them looking for ideas to incorporate the cuisine into their repertoire. The result: a kare-kare burrito that would become a hit with customers, and an inasal-infused take on peri-peri chicken. From there, the five would continue to experiment with dishes based on their own favorite flavors, incorporating not only Mexican and Filipino influences but also American and Japanese.
Much of the Buen Comer menu today is down-home comfort food—the kind to be enjoyed with the gang when you’re looking to stuff yourself silly sans pretense. It’s easy to dismiss them as just another one of the millenial-catering grub hubs common in the area—but the difference lies in Buen Comer’s use of homemade components, from the sauces (three of which you’ll find on the table for drizzling onto any dish as you please: the Creamy Cilantro, Garlic Sour Cream, and Hot Sauce), marinades, and the longganisa they use to top a number of their dishes. As co-owners Miko Badillo and Francis Buhay happen to be culinary instructors themselves, Buen Comer takes the time to formulate their own recipes and make whatever parts they can (almost everything, save for the tortillas) from scratch. Food is always cooked fresh, so expect to wait a bit from the time you place your order. But it pays off when you get your warm plate, where crispy parts stay crispy and flavors are always vibrant. The team is also looking to go the farm-to-table route soon, having started to plant vegetables in their own backyard.
Though out of the way from the other food districts of Teacher’s Village and open only from Wednesdays to Saturdays from 4pm onwards, Buen Comer Poquellas has built a steady following, mostly of students and young professionals from the neighborhood and beyond, with regulars who continue to make return trips to get their weekly fix—and for good reason. Here are some of our favorites:
Buen Comer’s flagship item, as mentioned, was concocted for their very first bazaar which so happened to have a Filipino theme. “It started as a wild experiment,” shares Umali, but one that would also allow them to showcase her grandmother’s signature recipe for bagoong. This handheld dish lets you savor the classic Filipino dish on the go, stuffing a tortilla blanket with kare-kare rice flavored with their own scratch-made kare-kare sauce, homemade bagoong, chunks of crisp lechon kawali, and grilled pechay. Served as is, you get a sizable bite of flavors that fit together as one familiar, cohesive jigsaw puzzle—or, enjoy kare-kare in a new light with a dollop (or more) of any of the homemade sauces; the Creamy Cilantro, in particular, adds a refreshing zingy counterpoint.
Nacho Potato Crisp
Looking for something to munch on in between burrito bites? Look no further than this giant stack of paper-thin potato chips, layered with a homemade cheese sauce, lettuce, salsa, their homemade longganisa, and coins of jalapeño. Freshly-fried potatoes make all the difference here, carrying a light (but satisfying) crunch with nary a hint of oil. And though ultimately indulgent, the components harmoniously balance each other out—creamy meets vibrant, salty meets piquant—that keeps you digging back into your plate. Don’t be surprised if you end up finishing the entire thing by yourself.
Steak and Rice Pilaf
Co-owner Francis Buhay concocted the Steak and Rice Pilaf inspired by a favorite dish he’d enjoyed in Siargao: the roasted chicken from local barbecue joint Barrel Bar. Buen Comer takes strips of USDA rib-eye and sears it just enough while keeping the interior juicy before layering it atop a spiced beef pilaf that wonderfully captures all the beef’s juices. By no means a run-off-the-mill steak plate, the use of quality beef shines here with its unbeatable tenderness and hearty, full-on flavor. We’re happy with it as is, but served alongside for drizzling is a special “pilaf sauce” that also takes inspiration from the one served at the said Siargao restaurant but given “more acidity”, according to Buhay, as his own Buen Comer twist.
Buen Comer Poquellas
A hole-in-the-wall joint serving casual grub with Filipino, Mexican, American, and Japanese flavors.