Monday, February 1, 2010

NINYO FUSION CUISINE and WINE LOUNGE...... Quezon City's Best-Kept Secrets...

Katipunan has always been Quezon City's University Belt. With big name schools ( Ateneo, Miriam and University of the Philippines )  located there, the place is surrounded by services that cater to the vicinity's huge student population.

Today, my son Iggy, his  wife Cris and I drove all the way to Katipunan in Quezon City for  a photo shoot and to try a new restaurant called NINYO FUSION CUISINE and Wine Lounge. It is located in the narrow back streets of Quezon City's univeristy and is one of the so-called gems in that area. It is a small home kitchen-turned-restaurant regarded as one of Quezon City's best kept secret.  To get to Ninyo may take a bit of effort since I live in Makati and we had to deal with the traffic along C-5... but according to Iggy ... this trip will be worth it.... I did not know what to expect... all I know was that it was formerly called " IN-YO " which refers to the Japanese term for yin and yang.  It is rare to find a gastronomic place like NINYO that prides itself in French -  Asian fusion cuisine. We met up with Iggy's  partner , Rommel and his girlfriend Cha at the restaurant... in short we came in full force for the photo shoot!!

NINYO is a novel place to entertain friends and family. I loved the look of the entrance of the restaurant which had vines dripping from the trees---- which added to the charm.

The food presentation is exceptional and even if there were some dishes that were not quite what I expected ( perhaps my expectations were high because they were so good!!!).... For the ambience, the quality of the food, its serving size and the whole dining experience, the prices are fairly reasonable. The dining room is tastefully done with a electic mix of local furniture.

The interiors overflowed with incandescent lighting,  capiz windows, Chinese lanterns and accent pieces from different parts of the world. The mix of old and new made the whole place cozy.

A koi pond greets you as you enter the door.   They have managed to play with the presentation of their food, fusing it right, while painstakingly plating them to look like works of art.

The wine lounge ( on the second floor ) will be formally launched on February 4, 2010.

I also met Genaro Yupangco , a wine-importer ( YUPANGCO WINES ELYSIUM ) who brings in Canadian Ice Wines and celebrity wines from all over the world. We tried a very good French wine called " CHRISTIAN AUDIGIER "( merlot )  - by Montpeyroux Estates. It comes in 4 different designs... green for white wine, blue for shiraz, red for red wine and black for merlot.

I was fortunate to meet the family who are behind this restaurant and I was able to get an impromptu interview with Carla Laus ( who is the marketing manager and public relations officer ),  chef Nino Laus ( pronounced NINYO ) and their mother, Edna, is the one who takes care of the cash register. All in the family!!... According to Carla, this was their old residence which they renovated and turned it into a restaurant. Carla transformed the second floor into a wine lounge.  NINYO FUSION CUISINE just won a BRONZE medal at the recent culinary competition, the MLA Black Box Culinary Challenge in Makati. I was told that the best sellers here are : HONEY GLAZED GRILLED SALMON ( 570 PHP ), DUCK LEG CONFIT ( 610 PHP ) and for the steak lovers ( like me )........... the US HANGING TENDER STEAK ( 595 ).

This was what we had for dinner...

I ordered UNI BALLS -  350 PHP
Fresh Uni wrapped in crispy fried puff pastry in balsamic wasabi. I loved this !!!

Cris tried their SMOKED DUCK BREAST - 470 PHP
Smoked duck breast tossed in wild cranberry ponzu dressing, assorted greens with grilled watermelon and cantaloupe.

there were other dishes that Carla made us try also...

Pig trotters Katsudon style   ( 550 PHP )
crispy fried Shiraz - braised pig trotters drizzled with Katsudon sauce set on foie gras fried rice topped with watercress relish in raspberry dressing. I must agree that it was artfully stacked!!

Baked pili crusted Unagi  topped with pan seared foie gras    ( 840 PHP )
in dalandan miso, truffled unagi sauce served with Oborio sushi rice, shitake confit and buttered asparagus then he garnished the dish with hajikame. I do not even know where to begin describing this dish... There were so many textures. It was almost too pretty to eat.

Duck with Foie Gras and dehydrated apples.. ( not yet in the menu ).

Miso marinated French rack of Lamb  ( 820 PHP )
wrapped in kampyo served with sweet potato mashed in coconut milk and grilled vegetables. The dressing is spicy Yuzu.

While Iggy and Rommel were busy with the photo shoot.... Cha and I went down to check out the kitchen where all these goodies were being prepared.... We caught Nino preparing his dishes... Carla mentioned to me earlier that Nino has gathered several awards already... He was named the youngest (I found out that he is only 28 years old !! ) Chef de Jour by Appetite Magazine, Rock Drilon of Mag:Net Cafe got him as F & B director to do the menu for Mag:Net, Philippines, plus Tatler and DineAsia consistently includes Ninyo in their Best Restaurants List..... plus...... CHEF NINO is going to have a cooking show soon.... AM I IMPRESSED with all his acccomplishments !!!!!!!

It is one of those places you will go back to, over and over again, to have a decent meal. Reading the dishes' descriptions was enough for me to want to try everything. Ninyo is fine-dining fusion cuisine minus the snobbish and intimidating factor so identified with that genre. It is a restaurant that is inviting and appealing.

Here are some of his mouth watering desserts....

Creme Brulee with cotton candy topping...

Tofu Cheesecake...

Chocolate! Chocolate ! -- best seller in NINYO

YOU should definitely try this restaurant!!!! a bit pricey though, an average of 500 PHP to 600 PHP for the main course. But I will tell you .... its worth every penny! I love their food presentation and you will find unexpected " treasures " in every meal. Glancing thru their menu ... I noticed they also had pasta which was 340 PHP... not bad huh!

According to their mom, NINYO is closed for lunch on Mondays but they are opened for dinner patrons with a special Monday Menu. Regular hours are from Tuesday to Sunday.

Overall, this was one of my most satisfying dining experiences. The restaurant was just so laid-back and welcoming, the food thoughtfully prepared. The prices were just right for the kind of food we got. The entrees were served WARM ( that was very important to me tho ) ... NINYO is the kind of restaurant that I dream of owning one day, so I can hang out there as long and as often as I want. If you are in the QUEZON CITY area... why not go and try out .... NINYO FUSION CUISINE and Wine Lounge........ you will not regret it!!

To Carla and Nino Laus.... congratulations for having such a nice romantic place .... I will  definitely be back to try more of your new discoveries... CHEERS!

Truly one of Quezon City's best kept secret!!!!!


66 Esteban Abada Street
Quezon City

tel. nos. ( 632 ) 426 - 0301
              ( 63917 )  538 - 5813

Monday   6:00pm - 1:30am

Tuesday thru Saturday   11:00am - 2:pm
                   6:00pm - 1:30am

Sunday 11:00 am - 2:00pm
                6:00pm - 10:00 pm

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