Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Coming Home to Mooli

In a previous post I’ve mentioned that Mooli is another name for daikon (white radish). Little did I know that Mooli has a deeper meaning to anyone who speaks the Visayan dialect. A fellow blogger (Edik Dolotina of The World According to Melchizedik) has kindly informed me that Mooli (read as moo-lay in Tagalog) also means “to come home”.

pre-dinner chaos
The name is very apt for what you get at Mooli, Mermaid Beach. Having a meal there is less of a restaurant experience but more like visiting one’s aunt to share a sumptuous meal of aged old Filipino recipes that have been passed on from generation to generation. Thanks to Tita Liz Solatan who highlights the experience by being the warmest and most welcoming host. Tito Rodi Solatan, on the other hand, says it all with the food that he serves.

more pre-dinner chaos

So for the second time in as many months we went to Mooli for a special Queen’s Birthday weekend dinner. The experience was not worth keeping to oneself so I brought some more of my dearest friends on this follow up visit.

post dinner smiles

We had the requisite longanissa, adobo and siopao. They are consistently good, of course. We also ordered some fresh lumpia, fried lumpia, pinakbet, chicken teriyaki and fried rice with prawns. To finish the meal we had halo-halo (in the middle of winter, I know but that weather didn’t matter). Everything was good!

fresh lumpia



But what made that dinner more impressive were servings of fresh octopus ceviche (kinilaw na pugita) and jack fruit salad (langka na may gata). We did not order these as they were not on the menu but Tito Rodi gave us generous helpings of these delectable dishes…gratis! Them, being complimentary, did not mean they are less scrumptious. In fact the opposite is true. I could have had another bowl of the ceviche and still want more! My wife specially enjoyed the jack fruit salad. According to her it is reminiscent of a favourite Laguna dish. This salad together with pickled bitter gourd (ampalaya) is normally served with lechon (which we should have ordered as well!). I did not know you can actually pickle ampalaya! You learn something new everyday, they say. A taste of the pickled ampalaya was definitely a first for me. And it was also very good!

octopus ceviche

green jack fruit salad

Sweet sourish ampalaya pickle

There was certainly one fault that evening and it wasn’t on the Solatans’ part. It was our failing for not being more specific with the dishes we want at the time of booking (to include even those not on the menu). Another lesson learned! We’ll be better next time!

So thanks once again to the Solatans! A big thank you to all my friends (the Adinas, the Mendozas, the Samsons and the Vicencios) who drove quite a distance to join us!

Chef Rodi in his domain

Chef Rodi & Me (& mini me) - unprecedented access to the control centre


By the way, thanks also for the Sharon Cuneta tapes playing on TV that evening. That made the wife very happy!


Joelen said...

How I wish we had such a place here in Chicago! (PS: I *adore* Sharon!!) (I’ve missed commenting on your blog for a bit so it’s so good to have some time and catch up with all your cooking/baking! :) )

The Beancounter said...

Hello there Joelen! Maybe this should be a new business venture for you... ;)

Yup, my wife is a die-hard Sharon fan...that's why she was extra pleased that evening!

Tangled Noodle said...

I would LOVE just one small, tiny bite of that octopus kinilaw! How fortunate you are to have such a place - all the dishes sound great and the proprietors even more so.

Looks like I wasn't the only one to have gone AWOL for a bit! Glad to be back and seeing what's up, Pinoy-style, Down Under! 8-D

The Beancounter said...

It certainly has been quiet lately... ;)