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Ground Floor Maripola Building,
109 Perea Street, Legaspi Village
Tel. No. (0917) 547-4188, 846-0744
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Curious about Yugoslavian food? Click for more.
(SPOT.ph) You don't hear a lot of people craving Yugoslavian food in Manila, not even in the most discerning, adventurous foodie circles. Balkan, a new neighborhood food haunt in Makati, just might change that.
Balkan is the swankier sister of Balkan Express in San Juan, tucked away in a quiet area of Perea Street in Legaspi Village. Run by Martin Batricevic, a hands-on 20-something restaurateur from Serbia who moved to Manila a year and a half ago, the red-themed restaurant is the kind that casts a spell on meat-eaters with a seductive menu of popular Yugoslavian food.
What exactly is Yugoslavian food, you ask? Simple. Lots of hearty meat, lightly seasoned and grilled. Flavors are kept simple—often, the chef lets the meat's natural robustness speak for itself, adding only a few spices to do the wooing. Most dishes are served with rice, mashed potatoes, and a specifically rave-worthy bread baked fresh on-site that's like a cross between a pita and a pandesal (a must-try!).
If you must try just one thing here, go for the Jagnjetina Lamb (P700), which Balkan lists as a house specialty (and rightfully so). The meat is boiled until soft and tender so it literally slides off the bone; its flavors kept spectacularly straightforward. If you're not big on lamb, try the Cevapcici, a popular dish made with tasty Serbian sausages that's easily one of the friendliest, most likable things on the menu. Served hamburger-style, each bite is a mouthful of juicy, spiced ground beef.
Comfort food takes form in the Pljeskavica (P320), a mozarella-stuffed burger served with fries—unsurprisingly one of the bestsellers here. If you're in the mood for something heftier, order the Sarma (P260), a specialty typically served during Christmas according to Batricevic, which throws together pickled cabbage rolls stuffed with beef, and a generous serving of mashed potatoes. Vegetarians (and cheese fanatics) will love the Sopska (P200), a refreshing salad that owes most of its flavor to a slathering of feta cheese atop crisp cubes of cucumber, tomatoes, onions, and olives.
For dessert, Balkan serves a mean apple pie that adopts the look of pocket pastries with a flaky crust, filled with chewy strips of apples spiced with cinnamon. They also make pretty stellar Serbian crepes (P120) here—ones you might just purposely seek out—filled with your choice of chocolate or apricot jam.
Photos by Pocholo Mendoza