This squid-ink rice is date-friendly and delicious
Mama Rosa's latest menu additions feature home-cooking at its finest.
9 East Capitol Drive, Kapitolyo, Pasig City
Contact: 0923-172-4127, 942-1125
Open daily from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
(SPOT.ph) Let us get the bad news out of the way. Mama Rosa doesn’t have ice cream anymore. No more gata-based, ultra-creamy treats that come in nutty gabi and refreshing calamansi. Even the sneaky, fiery heat from the eat-it-on-a-dare sili flavor would be missed.
Owner Ticks Dula Laurel probably noticed how shadows crossed our faces when she told us about the ice cream. Right now, she’s looking for a new supplier and assures us that at the very least, a gabi ice cream would be making a return.
The demise of most of her dessert menu, however, doesn’t take anything away from her cozy Pasig eatery. The Sinaing na Tulingan is still beautifully earthy and flaky, the Monggo Soup will still make even the most committed of carnivores turn to veggies (even ampalaya!); and the Crispy Tadyang still slides off the bone in impressive tenderness. Everything is still good, homey, with exceptional seasoning that starts with a sprinkle of nostalgia.
While waiting for her new ice cream deal to come through, the prolific owner has come up with four new items for the menu, and each is just as lip-smacking as the last.
Smoked Bangus Rolls
Since Mama Rosa takes its cue from Filipino family meals, having a spring roll feels overdue. Instead of lumpiang shanghai, however, Ms. Ticks' takes the form of Smoked Bangus Rolls (P220); and instead of short tubs, this Sunday staple comes in slender, grissini-like shapes. This new look rearranges the ratio of filling and filo to something more equal, so you get a more resounding crunch every time. Ketchup feels automatic, but the slightly sweet vinegar on the side does the job as well. The beauty with Mama Rosa dishes is that everything tastes lovely with or without condiment.
The Pan-Fried Sole (P420 to P650) isn't meant for sharing—or at least not for those who have hearty appetites. The fish is all flavor, but not much meat. This dish was actually one of Mama Rosa's offerings from the original 1989 menu, which is probably why the frying is so incredibly precise: just enough to create a delicate, crisp skin without toughening up the fish inside. The saltiness is relevant without being overpowering, but you can add Ms. Ticks' ginger sauce because, well, her sauces should be slathered on everything.
French Beans Oriental
If our beloved Monggo Soup's bitter-rich complexities are too much for vegetable-hating kids, tempt them first with the French Beans Oriental (P220). There's a light heat from the chilies, but nothing that even those averse to spicy food can't handle. It's tossed with ground meat and in a special mixture that they call "kropek sauce." It's sweet-tart and hoisin-like.
Squid Ink Rice
It's the Squid Ink Rice (P220), however, that impresses the most. You order anything squid-ink with the acceptance that you'll probably end up with your lips and teeth stained black. Amazingly, with Mama Rosa's rice, your dental area stays clean even after a few mouthfuls. A mild squid note wraps itself around each grain, but you get stronger flavors from the dried squid that's added to the mix. Fried leeks layer on some crunch and bit of brightness, while Chinese chorizo plays up a slightly sweet character. The balance is beautiful, certainly one of Ms. Ticks' best. You could actually come here for this alone, but those sauces are just too good to pass up.