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Restaurants & Bars 7

Cebu: 'Euro-Castillian-Orient Cuisine' aka Filipino(Downers Grove)

tony | Nov 24, 200206:14 PM

The words 'Euro-Castillian-Orient Cuisine' in the subject are not mine, but they seemed important. This place is in a nondescript suburban strip mall, but if you can get past that, it's pretty nice inside. It's not a hole in the wall type of joint, it's casual with a few nice pieces of tropical art on the wall.

We started with fried vegetable & shrimp lumpia served with a soy, vinegar and garlic dipping sauce. I could've drinken several shots of this dipping sauce. It had some sort of vinegar I'm unaccustomed to, but would really like to know what it is. The lumpia were nicely done with shrimp more as a flavoring to the still crisp vegetables including cabbage, carrots, sprouts and actual haricot vert or French Green Beans. The wrapper was thick and properly crunchy without being greasy, while still remaining chewy on the inside.

I went with the traditional dish of kare kare or oxtails simmered in a peanut sauce with bok choy, green beans, maybe some eggplant, sprinkled with toasted peanuts and topped with a big ol' dollop of bagoong which after research I learned was fermeted shrimp and anchovies. Strong stuff even for the salt lover. This sounds like an odd group of ingredients on paper but after you mix in some rice and then spread around the fermented shrimp and anchovies it works. Kare kare is also sometimes served with tripe. It was a good size portion leaving you full but not stuffed.

The wife tried the caldereta or beef chunks braised in tomato sauce with beef stock along with red and green peppers, green olives and potatoes. This dish had a little bit of heat to it and they are willing to make it hotter upon request. Basically a filipino take on beef stew. Good and hearty with very tender beef.

For dessert, halo halo or a parfait glass filled with jackfruit, fresh coconut, jellied pineapple, lychee, sweet red beans, covered with crushed ice and milk and then topped with vanilla ice cream, purple yam and a cherry. The fruits, ice cream and yam were good but I could've done with out the shaved ice, which just sort of seized up and watered down the ice cream. Oh well. Small complaint.

The service was friendly, if a bit clunky, but not unpleasant. The place is a good value if you are looking to try something different out in the wasteland here. For two glasses of wine, an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert we came in right under $40. The menu has a lot of interesting other choices including lechon, kingfish ceviche, lots of pork and chicken and an good sounding vegetable dish of sauted taro leaves in spicy coconut milk with shrimp. Enjoy!

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