Note: This was written more than two years ago but we are reposting it for the benefit of those who haven’t tried it and are missing so much!
GenSan’s rich are quite the finicky kind. They have so much money to spend and yet when it comes to entertainment, they hardly spend it in the city.
An example would be their alarming disregard for most of the local fine dining establishments in the city. A reason for this is their tendency to compare them with those from the metro cities. A few which have passed muster like Ranchero Grill, Sud-an, Big Chow (formerly South Park) and the newer Grab-A-Crab are more like the exceptions, so that when I heard about this small steak house which seems to be packing all my “affluent” friends in, I was quite surprised.
Named Euro Kitchen and established 3 months ago by the brother and sister team of Karl and Mae Macaraeg (of the famous Macaraeg Caterers) and her expat hubby Henrik Stork, this new diner occupies one 4×5 sqm stall at the Tiongson Street side of the Tiongson Arcade (the one with the statue of the Virgin Mary).
The place still has no visible signboard to identify it except for a small hanging tarpauline banner which does not even face the road (!). In fact, you could mistake Euro Kitchen as just one of the ubiquitous barbecue and native food eateries in this famous landmark of Lagao.
EK (as I will call it) shares a a common open dining area in the center of the triangle with 10 other eateries in the arcade. It could have been the last place on earth to serve steaks at this setting, but hey, their growing clientele do not seem to mind. So everyday, it’s always full house (EK only has 5 tables under their roofed dining area) and the spill-over would have to dine al fresco at the common triangle courtyard. [quote1]
As simple as it may be, the place has quite a character in its propensity for deco art. Instead of plastic, they use iron-wrought chairs. Their walls made of weaved local material contain framed european-inspired artwork and whatchamacalits. A good number of imported red and white wine brands also adorn another wall. The subdued lighting is courtesy of two art deco lamps hanging from the ceiling. The understated interiors make it charming, to say the least.
The first time I was there, the inner tables have been reserved and so we had to occupy the ones outside the common triangle courtyard. Immediately we were served fried peanuts together with the menu.
I had to try the t-bone steak and at that time, only the P360 size was available. The attentive waiter who took our order also enumerated the other things on the menu but we preferred to focus on the steak.
While waiting for our dinner, I tried to find out who the other diners were and realized that these were the people who would normally not be caught eating in such a humble bohemian setting. I noticed car dealer J and his family about to leave, while former councilor M with his wife, their daughter and her foreigner husband were just coming in. At the table behind us were a group of 2nd generation Chinoys attacking their steaks with gusto.
I also observed that owners Karl and May (when they’re not busy cooking at their kitchen) spend their free time mingling with these clients, making some small pleasurable talk, inquiring about the food and asking for suggestions. I made a mental note of that.
Eventually, our food were brought in by our waiter, each super large steak served in a really big plate which also contains vegetable sidings , pink rice (i swear!), and two slivers of butter. The mashed potato came in later.
I did not pour any sauce or gravy on my 500-gram behemoth steak wanting to sample my first bite as is. Then I started cutting. It was soft and tender and cooked rare as I wanted it. May’s marinade had just the right mix to it, not too salty, not too sweet that it doesn’t need to be, er “worchestershired”.
Despite its size, I finished my steak in no time at all together with the house salad of lettuce, tomato and onions and the chefs’ own version of the mashed potato which could have used less of the onions on it. Nevertheless, that one too disappeared inside my tummy even faster than the salad.
Seeing that we were finished, Karl served us their homemade “biko” (sweetened sticky rice), cooked with bits of langka (jackfruit) which was pure heavenly delight even for people who have sworn off sugar in their diets like me. It was individually wrapped in styro and could be bought separately. (Update: The biko is a creation of their caterer mom, Nene Macaraeg.)
We would have wanted to stay longer but more people were coming in, in small groups, mostly families. We decided to leave but not after congratulating Karl and May for their new venture.
On our way home, my companions and I decided that their steaks though excellent as they are, is actually only a secondary reason on why Gensan’s creme dela creme keep coming back.
The real reason behind their immediate success is actually Karl and May’s own brand of quality service, their personal touch of making each visitor count, treating everyone like royalty.
These, I believe are things no amount of condiments, spices or secret sauces can ever duplicate.
Euro Kitchen may be contacted at telephone #s 304-9209. I suggest you call them first for reservations to be assured of a table. Tell them Bariles sent you and earn free sidings. 😉
(Thanks to our dinner sponsors Architect Cecille and Fish Trader Beck. Mwah! I love you girls.)
NOTE: EURO KITCHEN has since transferred to a bigger location about 15 meters away. This time it can seat about 50 people, more or less. The food is still great though and they have additional menu. Try out Mae’s heavenly TACO PLATTER and crispy FRESH GARDEN SALAD with her own vinaigrette!!! They’re to die for!