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Meats served in this Davao restaurant are grilled using coconut shells

Featured image- PakitsGrilled scallops

By Gene Gonzalez

Chef Darrence Patrick Co (The Fat Cow and Asian Cow), our good friend from Davao, took us to this restaurant called Pakits Grill at Ecoland, near the bus terminal of Davao City. It took separate occasions for him to accommodate me and the Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS) chefs Gino and Toto.

Customers are immediately greeted by the tasty aroma of grilled meat and seafood at the entrance of a separate kitchen housing a long charcoal grill. What I find enticing from my visits is the type of charcoal the restaurant uses, chips of coconut shell that deliver searing and intense grilling temperatures with good flavor.

On my first visit, Chef Patrick ordered a serving of grilled swordfish belly that had juices oozing out between the fine flakes of its flesh. The rich, creamy flavors of the fish fat, combined with the entrapped moisture of the fish meat, were wonderfully creamy and tempered by the flavors from the coconut chips that were used to grill the protein at high heat.

swordfish bellyGrilled swordfish belly

A crisp garlic topping seemed to be the signature style of the restaurant’s charcoal-grilled dishes. The same topping, but in less quantity, was found on a dish of grilled scallops also topped with a buttery, cheese mix. The scallops had a tasty sea brine flavor, enhanced by the cheese that melted on and enveloped them.

Chef Patrick made sure I had a taste of one of my favorite cuts of tuna, what was called ubol ubol (esophagus). Served to us on a sizzling plate, it had a garlicky and spicy flavor, as well as the unique crispy texture of calamari. I guess that quick, yet delicious dinner got me thinking about coming back to the place. Remembering they served their beers straight out of the chiller, I thought about calling the staff ahead of time before my next visit so they could load a few beers in the freezer at subzero levels (which is what I prefer).

sizzling uboll ubol 1Grilled ubol ubol

After a few weeks, I came back with another set of friends, Dianne and Jedi LuceƱara, who run the prolific blog Davao Food Guide. Since they always share their discoveries with me, I was quite proud of showing them mine. Jedi was impressed and both were wondering how they never encountered the place before since it was just close to their home.

We had the same order of grilled swordfish belly, scallops, and the sizzling ubol ubol that were just as good and consistent as the first samples I had on my previous visit. I asked the friendly staff what other dishes I should order.

They recommended the sizzling chicken liver, which was accurately cooked and fresh since some juice would spurt. The garlic topping balanced the mineral flavors. We enjoyed the dish. The other recommended items were the well-loved soups from Visayas and Mindanao, which we also sampled.

One was balbacua, simmered beef feet in pepper, ginger, onions, and garlic resulting in a collagen-rich soup. I liked this version as the gaminess of the meat was well-tempered and richly flavored. The other soup was hinalang, a simple dish of boiled beef cuts spicy from a huge quantity of ginger and pepper loaded into the stockpot. The restaurant’s version changed my mind completely about the dish as its bony cuts (still composed of many connective tissues) gave great flavor to the hearty soup. It also doubled as a viand for the working class.

hinalang pakits 2Grilled hinalang

As I write this article, it seems as though my cravings have intensified and I’m longing for the excellent grilling and well-executed cookery at Pakits. It’s now on my list of restaurants to visit when in Davao.

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Source: Manila Bulletin

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