At 1953

Stella A. Estremera

IT WAS my big bro's birthday and we were having early lunch at this new place along Juna Avenue called 1953 Kusina Leticia right beside The Big House of the Robillos.

That was just perfect because schedules have been so tight the past days, there wasn't time to gather the food buddies and try out some new place.

My sister said it just opened and is where the pool area of the Robillo residence used to be.

It's the venture of the brood of the couple behind Casa Leticia, who apparently were brought up with good food surrounding them. It's new and apparently designed to exude an old world appeal in a modern setting. Chic. Except that, the centralized aircon conked out, so all customers were led to the second floor where there was an air-conditioning unit. There was a pretty good crowd for a new place.

I counted four tables occupied, aside from ours. My sister did the ordering, I was there to eat. My only other role was to insist that we order pansit because it's a birthday.

First came the lumpiang sariwa. I liked that detail of having thinly sliced sibuyas dahon embedded in the freshly made wrapper. It appealed to the eyes, and gives a teeny-weeny bit of flavor to the wrapper. We gobbled those fast. The main course was composed of... pork. All pork. Except that I demanded that there be pansit because... birthday. So we got bam-i, the very Bisaya pansit, on top of our crispy dinuguan (it's dinuguan topped with a big slice of lechon kawali, the lechon rondalla (four slices of deep-fried pork belly roll served with four sauces), and grilled pork ribs.

Don't worry, they have seafood and beef and chicken and a lot of other non-pork stuff there, including organic salads (plural) and vegetables that include laing, gising-gising, Bicol express, and lumpiang hubad (vegetarians and those who have other dietary restrictions won't starve there).

That was just us celebrating a birthday in the family: Pansit for long life and pork to keep you young, that kind of morbidity.

The verdict? The dela Paz kids know their stuff and their portions. Regular servings are good for two to three, so there's enough to share and you can order a few more if you're in a group without the trouble of leftovers. It's a highly recommended place if you want familiar Filipino food. I'll try the salted egg chicken next time...