a commentary

November 5, 2008 after twelve hours of travel and 12 hours of enrollment, my friends settled at a local resto of KRUS NA LIGAS. I thought, "huh? KNL = fine- dinning meal?" It was my first time to visit the KNL resto and with much expectations, as if i was heading into Manila Hotel.

A jeepney ride at 6 pm took us into the shadowland of U.P. Passing thru FA road, we headed towards the luminous Barangay KNL. As always, local people and informal settlers, dashed through the streets, walking to and fro. Plunging into the crowd enveloped ones existence into nothing. One has no identity, faceless and featureless. You only know that you exist because it is self-referentially acknowledged.

It is highly unusual that Sefali is just a little walk from the jeepney. I have paraded these streets since i was first year in college and haven't spotted a decent restaurant. Nevertheless, we found it. I found it.

Sefali Restaurant.

As soon i entered, i felt the creative energy, a jolt like a wave from the sea. Flashed before my eyes are decorations that unique and compliments the darkness and hazy night at KNL. The drappings on the wall, the dangling, continuous crystal beeds of blinds that transparently covers the window, the exotic masked, a unique set of chairs and tables and a plain fish pond converses as if it was aware of its aethetic usuabilty. The place breathes life from the wonderful decor, most were African inspired. There were also framed newspaper articles detailing, as what i thought, important events and people who are historical referenced.

Gela examines designs.

Newspapers framed.

Blurred. Though aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Art masks!

I particularly like the style of their place. The style, North African-Mediterranean, is long gone in the Philippine context, but abroad, the influence is still emerging right now. It is a postmodern restaurant with a nice exterior. However, i do not like the idea of putting an open-kitchen where the guest and costumers can see what's cooking. Though this concept is highly influenced a postmodern thoughts of "Closer-to-reality-the-better" which is also emulated in today's reality TV. It was too "Rodickish" and too frontal that the value of surprise is lessened. I believe that when eating gourmet food, though this restaurant is assuming a gourmet status, surprise can increase better judgement of food.

Besides that idea, i am disappointed by what i received in the table. I ordered Oriental Chicken because i want to know how "oriental" it was, given that most our Filipino dishes are "orientally" influence because of topography. It was the only thing in the menu that is left among the things i have ordered, so i tried it. I must admit it was not as good as i expected.

Oriental chicken? You got to be kidding me!

"Oriental" refers to Southeast Asian cuisine, in our context. The exposition of an oriental cuisine is an effortless feat for Filipino cookers including my mother. What is oriental is a give away for Filipino cooking. Oriental food is reflected on some of our local dishes like the usual KUSIDO, or Simmered Fish. It uses considerably simple ingredients like Soy Sauce, Fish Sauce (patis), Rock Salt, Calamansi, which can only be found in our "oriental" homes.

Following this description of "orientalism", i say that most, if not all, of our local cuisines made by local people are "orientally" influenced. For this matter, i could say that an "Oriental Chicken" need not to be called "oriental" because it is itself oriental. It is redundant and highly unlikely. So it must have been called "Special chicken" or "Gingered Chicken" because the only difference it makes to other dishes of chicken is a sauce gingered indispensably.

Economics would then brag about the idea of Marketing. I don't really care because "oriental chicken" is a categorically incorrect name.

Some other images from the trip:

Lampshade with cloth. Rustic.

For desert: Customized Buko salad. (Odd but cute concept.)

Something to do with Squids and Sauce.

Guess what?

Urrggh! Dumb!